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.

10 / 12
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


Chime In

  • DJ Hargrave

    Great tips Bryan! Essential for every man.

    DJ | Menswear Enthusiast

    • Brian Sacawa

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

  • 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..

    The Fashion For Men

    • 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

    • 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!

    • Brian Sacawa

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

  • disqus_72GXGq6drQ

    You learn something new everyday!

    • Brian Sacawa


  • 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.

    • 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.

      • La vespa coomologica

        “Europe” is an entire continent. I understand US people have such an egocentric attitued towards the rest of the world they don’t realise this but from all these article it seems that people “in Europe” all follow the same trend.

        Trousers with no break or slight break have never been traditionally seen as “elegant” in Italian fashion. Look at the movies from the 50s or the 60s, when the worldwide famous Italian style is better depicted. Trousers always had a very slanted hem, nearly reaching the top of the heel at the back and folding slightly (but firmly on the shoe) at the front.
        On the contrary, in UK the Savile Row traditional hem is nearly horizontal, which implies the trousers’ leg will never reach the heel of the shoe unless multiple folds are allowed at front.

        Of course we are talking of trousers with HUMAN and CLASSICALLY PROPORTIONED widths (at least 8”) not those abhorrent tourniquets that are sold as men’s trousers since 2009.

    • 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. 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.

    • AlexandreM

      Socks matching your tie?! Example please! :)

  • Noel

    Like article.
    Visit our Men’s Fashion site

  • Jeffrey

    @hespokestyle:disqus Hey Brian! Thanks so much for the informative article, I really learned a lot. I know this is an old article, but do you remember the names of the shoes here? Any help would be much appreciated :)

  • Admin

    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…

  • Flo Schmidt

    Cool article. There are so many things to consider when buying and fitting pants, as it turns out. Aside from pant breaks, you also need to choose the type of pants you want according to cutting forms. Some have wider while others are narrow. There’s straight cut and there’s baggy pants, too. You’re right, though. There may be some traditions or standard practices when it comes to how pants should fit, the decision ultimately depends on one’s personal style.

    • Flo Schmidt

      Some of the typical cuts include: boot cut, regular, baggy, relaxed, drop crotch, slim fit, and more (Source:
      I also think people could also stand to benefit from taking the time to learn how various sizing systems for pants work.

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    Gostei, muito legal!
    Blog ArroJada Mix|Blog Prosa e Texto|Blog Vapor da Cozinha

  • Niro Fashion

    Fashion is such a trade where new things blossom everyday . This small guide on pant breaks is really awesome and I would definitely share it.

  • joycew.skidmore

    Key element for all new bloggers.. Thanks for share such a wonderful blog.. Good luck

  • joycew.skidmore

    Wonderful article!! Best of luck for your next post. Keep it up!!

  • Arnold 1

    I wish you, or someone like you, would crusade against men letting their pant legs pile around their ankles as though they were cut 6 inches too long. I’ve found that a “boot notch” on each seam creates a nice break in front and a straight drape in back covering the back of the shoe almost to the heel.

  • Alleged-Comment

    What about working pants like cargo pants I use for contractor work? I usually make mine look past full break to a completely BROKEN break.

    Does this matter?

  • Joseph Tonelli

    Interesting read, but not a mention of a hemline. While I often shift between no and slight break (depending on the fabric) I always have a similar angled hemline – shorter in the front and longer in the back.

  • Sleek Studio

    Big thumbs up for your article, it is very brief, i also want to add something Unlike denim, dress pants should sit at your hips or even a touch higher for the most flattering look. Bunched-up zippers are not your friend. And the waist should fit snugly. … Nothing bricks a killer suit like a pair of too long pants, so make sure yours have little to no “break” at the ankle.

  • S Kenzig

    Where are your shoes in the Break picture from and/or what brand are they?

  • BigMike

    I wear medium break but I’m 6’4”. Anything less and I look like I’ve out grown my trousers!

    • ivyleaguer

      hi…I seen tall guys do no break with stylish colorful socks showing. It’s looks great. Tall and skinny though, if you’re tall and little more rounded may not be so flattering.

  • ivyleaguer

    I am medium break kind of guy and now have gone to no break. but it feels awkward though I know it’s the trend right now. I had about 15 of my pants hemmed like this but it feels weird.

  • Howard

    what shoes are those in the “Full Break” photo?

  • Yuri Orloff

    There is no such thing as “medium break.” There is, however, single-break, double-break, and the oh-so-hipster no-break length. Traditional suit pants were single-break with a no-cuff hem. More conservative men who wore heavier fabrics like flannels and tweeds would often opt for a double break, which resulted in a more dowdy appearance. Skinny pants have ruined the entire concept of break, because there simply isn’t enough material in the pant leg to render a proper break.

    My advice is to dump this garbage and get yourself a decent tailor before you show up at a business meeting dressed like you’re late for the gay bar.