The HSS Guide To Pant Breaks

3 / 12
When wearing this style, it's important that your pants be tapered as well. Unless you're Thom Browne.

4 / 12
Slight break. Very close to no break, but a touch more classic and does not require the same amount of taper.

5 / 12
For when "no break" is a little too aggressive and/or fashion forward.

6 / 12
A good choice to style-conscious men who don't wait to appear overly trendy.

7 / 12
The medium break: a classically conservative style choice.

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The full break.

Proper pant length and the amount of break is ultimately a personal style choice.

Let’s start with a definition.

The break in a pair of dress pants (or jeans or chinos, for that matter) is the fold or creasing of the fabric above the bottom of the front of the pant leg where it meets your shoe.

“Proper” pant length is matter of much discussion when it comes to the rules of style. Ultimately, however, the length of one’s pants – or how much or little break one’s pants have – is a personal style choice and very much a matter of personal preference, aesthetics and body type.

Here are four of the most common pant breaks and hemlines you’re likely to see as well as some guidance on choosing what pant length is right for you.

1. No Break

proper break in pants pant length no break

Thom Browne’s shrunken suit forever changed the face of men’s dress pants. While the above-the-ankle style can only truly be pulled off by some, many guys feel comfortable with a “no break” hem, where the pant leg just kisses the top of the shoe.

While the Thom Brown aesthetic makes no allowance for shaping the width of the pants down the leg, this style looks best with a well-defined taper. My personal preference is to have around a 7″ leg opening at the bottom.

What It Says About You: I’m modern, hip, care deeply about precise tailoring and aspire to be a fashionable European gentleman.

Looks Best On: slim dudes, short dudes, Italian guys, wannabe Italian guys, young bucks, the fashion set.

2. Slight Break

proper break in pants pant length slight break

If “no break” and the requisite aggressively tapered leg is a little too fashion-forward for you but you still want to be a bit contemporary, the slight break is for you. This looks best without a cuff and with the back of the pant leg angled a little longer than the front.

What It Says About You: I understand that fit is everything and I desire to be contemporary and up-to-date, but not trendy.

Looks Best On: pretty much everyone, slim (not cropped or skinny) trouser widths, the modern businessman.

3. Medium Break

proper break in pants pant length medium break

This is an ideal look for those with a more conservative style, who don’t want a tapered or slim trouser and want to go with a cuff.

What It Says About You: I’m serious about style and have a quality tailor with a conservative approach that I respect and embrace.

Looks Best On: middle-aged guys, conservative businessmen, gentlemen carrying around a little extra weight.

4. Full Break

proper break in pants pant length full break

Full disclosure: ideally, to pull off this style and for it to look “right,” the pant leg needs to be wider than is pictured here. This is my widest pair of pants and I did my best to show what a full break might look like. In a perfect world, there is a decent amount of fabric pooling at the ankle, but it should look a bit more elegant than shown.

What It Says About You: I’m either older, wiser, heavier and stylistically conservative or I live in my own private and perpetual Jazz Age Lawn Party.

Looks Best On: older gentleman, heavier gentleman, wide-leg trousers, vintage/throw-back dudes.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

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Chime In

  • DJ Hargrave

    Great tips Bryan! Essential for every man.

    DJ | Menswear Enthusiast

    http://www.tailormade-style.com

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      You got it. Thanks for the continued support, DJ.

  • http://thefashionformen.com/ centimo123

    Hi Brian,,
    Thanks for the articles
    But, I have another thought..The breaks is cools, depends on where you live..
    Every part of the world has its own style, and every generation too. Let’s say people in Asia in their 60’s.. They will choose medium break or full break..

    Regards
    The Fashion For Men

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Great points. Thanks for chiming in.

  • Jim Voll

    I’m 60 and prefer the slight break on my dress trouser. My chinos vary depending on shoe or boot choice

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      A great choice. Thanks for chiming in, Jim.

  • Thomas Hynes

    I typically go slight-break with a 1.75″ cuff. I’ve also been experimenting with a higher rise and suspenders; they make for a surprisingly comfortable fit!

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Higher rises are definitely making a comeback. As are high rise trousers with pleats.

  • disqus_72GXGq6drQ

    You learn something new everyday!

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      Cheers.

  • Steffen Hein

    Gentlemen, be careful here: This article is valid only in the US. Never-ever-under-any-circumstances wear a no-break in european countries. Especially not while doing business in Germany. This break vs. no-break thing doesn’t seem to be of a big thing here, i.e. in the end you can wear it in the way you want. NOT so in Germany. It is a huge thing there and even decides getting a job or not after an interview if self-presentation is a mandatory aspect for that said job. Including aspects of quality of clothes, brands, colors, fit and cut – there is nothing worse than wearing too short pants in Germany. Experience: one of my newly bought business pants started to wrinkle up laterally during the day – making it around 1 to 1.5 inch shorter while the whole pants were already a little on the short side to begin with.., the amount of bullying comments from my colleagues were countless. On the other hand however, my German colleagues or myself never commented on this topic when meeting one of our american colleagues – we simply know about the differences. Besides, we never won’t understand why 1/10th of the pants should be missing.. :) (Historical reason in for the no-go in Germany: traditionally, circus clowns wear too short pants. We associate that fact immediately when seeing someone with a no-break pants.)

  • Eric Nguyen

    As someone who used to do MTM for brooks Brothers and Zegna, a full break is also the standard military break. Same for all of our armed forces.

    • http://hespokestyle.com/ Brian Sacawa

      That’s correct.

  • Nihilux

    Someone once told me that people in europe generally never go for full break, is that true? What do you think the standard for breaks would be in italian tailoring as my belief is that italian cut suits are superior to any other.

    • MyOpinionsJust

      Commonly in Europe I would describe the customs like so: no to slight
      break for younger people, slight break for middle age, slight break to
      medium break for the older population.

      That doesn’t mean no break
      or medium break can’t be right for a middle aged person, however.
      General advice: go with slight break. For Italian, go with no break or
      as close to it as you are comfortable.

    • RepublicOfKekistan

      The hip style is slim/tailored fit, and no break trousers. Though this is more of a “young banker” type of look, nothing 90% of the older generation looks like.

      The main problem IMHO is acceptance. Some conservative firms will look at you weird if you look like you came out of Zara or Armani, and would prefer a more conservative cut.

      That said, if we are talking pure fashion, then any fabric that isnt needed is considered to look bad.

  • Chris Orlikowski

    Great article – the length of trousers is tricky to get right. Too short can easily look wrong, but I think it really depends on the whole look one is going for and most importantly the shoes. If they are very flat, any trouser looks like it has no break ;-)

  • Jimmy Scott

    Yo, no mention of pant length when sitting…

    I guess because I am really tall, my pants ride up when i sit. I cannot really see going no break for myself, and i prefer full break but it does look a little sloppy when standing. Should i go for a medium break on my suits? TIA

    • RepublicOfKekistan

      It’s no problem if trousers rise up when you sit. The problem is not having long enough socks at that point.

  • Winston H

    Truly amazing blog. Very useful. I am blogger I like your blog & also i like so many blogs. manningcompany.com is one of my favorite blog.

  • RepublicOfKekistan

    This is a very tricky thing.
    First of all the trousers should never be too long, with tons of fabric hanging about. THAT SAID, going no break will actually look ridiculous on tall men.

    It’s all about balance. Short trousers will make a tall man look ridiculous, whilst long trousers will look ridiculous on a short man.

    In addition, I feel fit is important, even more than length. Unless you are strongly overweight, you should never wear so called “regular fit” clothing. Wear slim fit or other tailored fits.

  • Straw_Men_On_Slippery_Slopes

    I vary my suit pant’s break according to planned activity. I am not a huge fan of the no break and do not wear it (even when in Europe), and find it a fashion trend for the youngest in the labor force. If working in the office with presentations planned for internal personnel where I will be standing in front of people, I wear a slight break pant. When giving presentations to customers, I always evaluate the customer and wear the appropriate break (full if ultra-conservative or military, medium if contemporary conservatives, and slight break if modern and of a younger generation). Also, if there is a lot of walking planned, I will lean toward a medium break unless I plan to wear socks as a highlight and flash of personality (usually matching my tie).
    I guess you could say that personal style is always something to consider, but you must also consider the norm of your surroundings and respect it. If you want respect from others, you must offer it as well.

  • Noel

    Like article.
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