More polished than jeans yet less formal than a suit, dress pants stand out as an essential component of every man’s closet. Whether for weekdays in a business casual setting or on weekends for brunch or dinner, it makes perfect sense to invest in a rotating assortment of styles to wear throughout the year. Regardless of the season, just make sure they fit well and feel comfortable.
How to define a dress pant? It’s generally a heavier-weight wool trouser with a front crease that pairs perfectly with a dress shirt and a belt on its own, or works equally well with layers (i.e., a sweater, topcoat or dress jacket). Dress pants sometimes come with pleats, but we suggest avoiding this style, as the excess fabric tends to look unflattering on our guys. Stick to the plain fronts.
Perhaps the best quality of dress pants is their unsurpassed versatility, in terms of how to wear them. With shirts, jackets and shoes, the possibilities are endless. For a business casual setting, nothing could look more timeless than dress pants with a white or blue dress shirt, navy blazer or sport coat, and a tie. At Peter Manning, we sell our dress pants and dress jackets separately, so you can mix and match away. Make sure the color combinations work, and then have some fun with it.
For a casual yet tailored ensemble on weekends, dress pants pair perfectly with a dress shirt/sweater combination or simple turtleneck sweater (fall) or a crisp white T-shirt, classic cardigan and tennis shoes (spring). Pro tip: While we’re used to always wearing a belt with our dress pants, try going without, especially when wearing them more casually. And just as a dress pant bridges the gap between formal and casual, so should the shoes matched with it. In addition to sneakers, “in-between” footwear styles such as oxfords and loafers can complement the look.
Regardless of when, where and how they’re worn, all dress pants need to fit accurately. The best approach is tailored, but never too tight; also, dress pants are designed to sit at the waist, not down on the hips like a pair of jeans.
To check the comfort factor while trying on dress pants, always sit down while wearing them. If the thighs feel strained, maybe size up. And while the leg opening should be tailored, it should never feel constrained.
Also, bear in mind the break of the pant—i.e., the amount of fabric that grazes shoes while standing. The most modern approach is a slight/no break: The front of a dress pant covers the top of shoelaces, while the back falls between the top of a shoe and the top of a heel.
Thankfully, alternations won’t be necessary with Peter Manning’s dress pants. Made specifically for the “not so tall” guy, our 100% Italian wool and stretch-cotton styles are designed with shorter inseams, a proper rise and proportionate leg opening. Dress pants from other brands are typically made with 34-inch inseams, which are then tailored to fit. But shortening the pant so significantly eliminates much of the natural taper, resulting in a large ankle opening that covers too much of your shoe. Our pants have finished inseams starting at 25 inches, so you’ll always get a perfect fit. It’s like custom-tailored, but without the tailor!
How to get the look right: