The Dude Society

An Online Magazine for Guys.

Hem Your Pants The Right Way

When you buy a suit off-the-rack, the pants will come one of two ways: with a raw end or hemmed at some arbitrary spot. Typically the latter applies to more casual suits. In either case, you will need to have the hem finished. If you are relatively tall, sometimes the built in hem happens to be right for you, but this is often not true.

If you just walk into most cleaner/tailor shops, they will tell you to try on the pants, the man or woman will pull the back of the leg down to meet the sole of you shoe, put in a pin or make a chalk mark, and be done with it.

Not all pants should be hemmed at the same length. This varies on two main factors: Mainly the style and fit of the pant, and secondarily, your personal style. Generally the slimmer the leg of the pant, the shorter it should be hemmed. By “shorter” I don’t mean like Thom Browne short, but I am talking about the about of “break” the pant leg has at the bottom. “Break” refers to the amount of the pant leg that hits your shoe and bunches up or “breaks”.

If your suit pants are slim, having excess material bunched up around your shoe will look really sloppy. So, the proper thing to do is have the pants hammed to a length that allows the pants to just touch your shoes, without bunching. This is called no break, or very minimal break.

Modern suits are trending toward slimmer pants these days. Now, I am not talking about Russell Brand, skinny jeans, type pants. By “slim” pants, I mean pants that don’t look too tight, but don’t have a lot more fabric than is necessary. If you are in decent shape, a slimmer pant will actually make you look more fit than a larger, billowy pair will.

If your pants are a more traditional cut, you do want some break. If the end of the pants aren’t anchored by your shoes, the fabric will likely flop around and make it look like you bought the wrong size pants. If you open your eyes, you can see guys wearing pants like this all over the place.

Often when you are standing in a tailor shop, you might feel pressured or rushed. One good tactic is to stop by a fabric or sewing store and pickup a box of very thin straight pins, like the ones a tailor would use. This way, you can put on the shoes you expect to wear with the particular pants, and try out a few lengths in the comfort of your own home before going to the tailor. If you do go straight to the tailor, it is very important that you bring the shoes you expect to wear with these pants, otherwise you could have some unexpected results when you go to actually wear them!

About the author

Jamie is the Founder of The Dude Society and a New York City based web designer & developer. He really likes telling people how to think, act, and dress.

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5 Responses to “Hem Your Pants The Right Way”

  1. Diane says:

    I find your description of the slim pant hemming technique to be incomplete. How does the hem lay at the back of the shoe? Should it be level with the front of the shoe or should it taper down towards the heel or the floor?

    • Jamie says:

      Well, that depends how slim the pants. Very slim pants would hardly touch your shoe, if at all. You really need to put on the type of shoes you'd be wearing, and try them on with the pants to see how you'd like them to hit. If you leave slim pants too long, they will bunch up in an unattractive way. You mention taper. Should what taper?

      • Diane says:

        Thanks, Jamie. This was very helpful.
        the pants were to a slim suit which with the help of a tailor are now properly hemmed.

  2. Najib says:

    Hi, Ive got a suit and ive actually tailored it and forgot to take the Pants with me, And now i think they are too slim and make my shoes look big, whats the best thing to do?

    • marvin says:

      Get shoes that make your feet look smaller.
      Avoid shoes that are extra long and pointy.
      If you are enough of a fashion victim and can't be seen wearing dress shoes that are not the height of fashion now, you are doomed!

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