When men go to buy a suit off the rack, they try on the jacket first. Maybe they look in the mirror, check the shoulders, do a little dance to check the fit and even ask the clerk how the jacket looks. Even if you’re not buying off the rack because you prefer custom suits made to fit you like a glove, the jacket is likely the piece that gets the most attention.

While it’s understood that pants aren’t the glamorous part of a suit, they do play a huge role in how you’ll look in the finished product. In fact, how your pants look really does amount to about 50 percent of how your overall suit looks. Even if you’ve got the best-looking jacket in the world, a suit that only scores a 50 shouldn’t leave the shop with you.

The problem is that many men simply don’t know how to get the right fit when it comes to custom dress pants. An experienced tailor can help, but there are some things the average man should know.

Use this guide to learn more about custom dress pants and how you can get the right fit when you order a custom suit.

Understanding Dress Pants

A perfect pair of dress pants fits your body naturally. For the most part, a streamlined pair of pants that doesn’t bunch, pull or make you look like you’ve borrowed your little brother’s – or your big brother’s, for that matter – shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

The problem is that most men don’t really understand how dress pants are supposed to fit.

A photo posted by JJ Kalliath (@chase.happiness) on

Get the Right Fit

When made properly, custom dress pants follow the natural shape of body, with the widest part of the pants sitting at your waist. From there, the pants should be tapered to the ankle without excess material or bunching around the thighs, which should be a good indicator that your pants are too tight.

Unlike jeans and many other modern styles of pants that men are used to wearing, custom dress pants sit above the hips, not at or ever below them. The fall of the pants – the area around the groin – is also longer, which is an indicator that custom dress pants need to be worn higher than your skinny jeans. Even without a belt or suspenders to hold them up, the nature of dress pants is that a properly fit pair will never be able to come off without some unbuttoning on your part.

Excess fabric anywhere on the pants, as well as sagging around the crotch, is a sign that your pants are too big. Wrinkles or bunching around the thighs should tell you that your pants are too small for your body type even if they fit in the waist.

Know Your Style

When it comes to custom dress pants, you have the option between a few different basic styles. If you ask 100 men which style they prefer, you’re likely to get 50 answers one way and 50 the other.

In general, pants that are not pleated tend to look more modern only because they haven’t been around as long. Pleated pants look more traditional, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t for younger men.

Plain-Front Pants

Plain-front pants have been popular for the last few years, partly because of the 60s revival that has made men under the age of 30 a lot more likely to wear suits for fun as well as work. They’re not always the right answer for every man though.

Plain-front pants have a tendency to give a sleeker look for many men, at least when they are standing up. When seated, that lack of creases and folds can cause pants to look a bit tighter than normal.

Just like with most things related to custom dress pants, your body type is a major deciding factor in which type of pants to pick. Men that are tall, slim or a combination of the two tend to do best in plain-front pants.

Guys with a little bit of extra fat, or even guys built more like football players than runners, especially around the mid-section and thighs, may prefer pleated pants instead.

Pleated Pants

Pleated plants have a tendency to look a bit more formal, and if you work in a stuffy or more corporate environment, you may feel a bit more comfortable with your older counterparts. Even if you could get away with plain-front pants, pleated pants can be a very smart choice for many men.

Pleated pants allow for a bit more room in the legs and waist because of the extra material used to make the pleats. This means that the legs of your pants have more room to expand when you sit down or move. That can make them more comfortable for many men.

Custom dress pants with pleats also have a slimming effect on larger men when compared with plain-front pants. If you’re carrying extra weight or you’re just a big guy, pleated pants provide more flexibility, a better fit and a better overall appearance in most cases.

Pick Perfect Features

Like choosing between plain-front custom dress pants and pleated versions, men have a lot of choices when picking the features of their pants. What you choose will play a big role in how your suit looks and how you look in your suit.

Cuffs vs. No Cuffs

Just like the eternal debate over plain-front pants or pleated pants, the argument about whether men should wear cuffs or not probably won’t ever die. How you look and why you’re wearing a suit are often deciding factors.

When it comes to cuffs, they have a tendency to break the length of the leg. For men with very long legs, this is often a good thing, as it helps them to look a bit fuller. Men that are short or stout however may do best with uncuffed pants since they provide a longer silhouette.

Of course, many slim men have worn pants without cuffs. For more modern ultra-slim suits, wearing cuffs is almost out of the question. More traditional suits, like those with an English or Italian cut, tend to look unfinished without cuffs.

Like most things fashion-related, your personal sense of style should be your guide.

Pockets

Custom dress pants usually come with a straight up and down slit for pockets. This is traditional, and in most cases, the best choice for almost every guy and suit.

Some men looking for more casual suits, or guys who don’t have to dress any certain way, may prefer a slanted pocket instead. These pockets tend to call more attention to the details, and when stitched with a contrasting thread or fabric, make a bold statement.

If you’re buying a basic suit, however, straight pockets are by far your best bet.

Why Custom Dress Pants?

Custom dress pants make a huge impact on how you look when you’re wearing a suit. Without a pair that showcases that perfect fit, the details you pick or that expensive material won’t mean a thing. You won’t feel like you’re wearing a nice suit either and for many guys, comfort will also be an issue.

When you buy custom dress pants, you have the ability to choose from different materials, styles and features. More than that, you get to work with a tailor who takes precise measurements and works with you in steps to get that perfect fit.

The ideal pair of dress pants fits your body exactly in a streamlined fashion. Without a tailor working with you, getting that from an off the rack suit is going to be nearly impossible.

men's fashion advice

About Ralph Lauretta

Ralph is a co-owner of Sal Lauretta for men. His areas of expertise include custom clothing as well as being the primary clothing buyer for the store. When not at work you can find him hanging out with his family, reorganizing his garage or watching a Denver Broncos game.