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!