Statement jackets and the latest sneakers are always likely to be top of men’s lust lists but do not let high-wattage clobber blind one to the essentials. The right pair of trousers may be the most quietly powerful item you wear, but get it wrong and you’ll immediately dull the glow of those trending pieces you spent long pursuing.
Yes, it’s easy to simply plump for your tried-and-tested slim-fit black jeans to the umpteenth time, but there’s a whole wardrobe full of top-notch trews that will look as slick given half the opportunity. Below are a few of the unsung trouser styles which you might not have considered, but need to.
- Corduroy Trousers
Once just the preserve of fictional (and actual) inhabitants of academia, corduroy is among the most underutilized materials in men’s style and, even if worn properly, can result in an indispensable set of trousers. There’s a 1970s revival going on in menswear, also, so there has never been a better time to pay your legs in the cord.
The cord is a textile composed of lace, twisted cotton, or wool, leading to parallel lines (called ‘wales’). Wool corduroy is the most durable type and wears particularly well. So, in addition to bestowing a bit of shallow intellect, cord trousers will defy a fair bit of rough and tumble. The Indiana Jones of legwear, if you will. They can find a little warm, though, so it’s best to save them when the cold begins to bite.
Unlike its sometimes stuffy connotations, corduroy is amazing when dressed and worn casually. Try teaming a set of dark corduroy pants with a sweatshirt and practical leather shoes to signpost that you’re not a fellow in Oxbridge.
This stripy cloth also comes with an excellent job of adding a little personality to more formal apparel. A slim-cut corduroy suit will make an excellent companion for a light-gauge roll neck and monk-strap shoes include party season. Swerve the shirt and tie, though — Doctor who has rendered that combo unwearable anyplace out of Comic-Con.
- Wool Trousers
A firm favorite of style bloggers (the Type who don’t dress like anime astronauts, which is) and art directors all over the world, wool pants offer a throwback to the times when jeans were not the de facto king of legwear.
While you’ll often see them dressed down with a pair of sneakers by arbiters of cool hanging out loft offices leisurely puffing on roll-ups, they work just as well-styled in a more traditional way. For inspiration, throw your attention to Pitti Uomo where they are often grounded with a pair of brogues, Derbies, or double monks.
- Twill Chinos
A fantastic piece of workwear places in a change if you would like to assert your old-school manly credentials. In twill chinos, quality craftsmanship matches reliability and style in an ideal ménage à trews of cool that’s still exceptionally wearable.
Cut from heavyweight cotton, woven to create a surface comprising diagonal parallel ridges, twill is a traditional material which, if invested in, will give excellent cost-per-wear calculations thanks to its hardy nature.
Additionally, every scuff on a pair of twill chinos tells a story — even when the only ‘work’ you end up doing in them is loafing about on Twitter. In twill, the beleaguered chino also breaks out of the domain of ‘Ibiza lads on tour’ to an altogether more grown-up sense of tradition and place.
The style is still, strictly speaking, a casual trouser therefore wears them with an easy-going set of shoes (such as anything with a contrast Vibram only), a T-shirt or item of knitwear, and top with an overshirt or denim coat for an effortlessly cool off-duty appearance.
- Relaxed-Legged Trousers
The skinny jeans backlash is officially on. Tired of indecently outlined genitalia and trying (and failing) to remove our skinnies with dignity after a night out, relaxed-legged jeans and trousers are looking more and more appealing by the day.
Harking back to 1950s-inspired garments, The Levi’s 501 cut is firmly back on the radar of menswear’s most stylish and the version has attracted its mates along for the ride, too.
While they are perfect for providing a platform to get a standout piece of footwear, looser-cut chinos and pants will need to split perfectly. Too long and they will look like the floor-dragging boot cuts, too high and you’ll seem as if you are wearing three-quarter lengths. The main purpose is to steer clear of a pooling situation, so we’d suggest aiming for the hem to fall somewhere between the peak of your shoe and its original pair of eyelets.
- Linen Trousers
Not too long back, lace trousers were sweaty, misshapen bloomers that had no place in a modern man’s wardrobe. Thankfully designers have done a lot of effort to rehabilitate them in the past couple of decades. Gone would be the shapeless cuts, replaced with tapered, modern leg-lines that flatter every body shape. And linen blends make them far more practical, less prone to impossible creases — while still being as breezy as ever.
Try them as part of a linen suit for a dapper old-timer vibe, but the more modern way to use them is cropped, with sneakers and a plain T-shirt.
- Drawstring Trousers
Without needing to be overdramatic, smart drawstring trousers are the best thing to have been menswear within a decade. Until lately, drawstrings and elasticated waistbands were restricted to sportswear and usually considered to be a sign that you did not care. That’s dumb. What a revelation it’s been to sit for a large plate of pasta, not feel as though your pants might slice you in half by the meal’s end.
Nowadays, drawstring trousers come tailored and in a lot more stuff than jersey. Wool and linen offer the best choices at the wider end of the spectrum. Once you’ve felt comfortable your dressed-up wardrobe can be, then you will never return.
- Slimline Joggers
There have been some excellent hybrids over the years: the shacket, the snood, er, Kimye, but none boast as much staying power as athleisure, which is a rare example of fashion and function joining forces for the greater good.
The sports-luxe motion remains a draw stateside, and while UK labels took slightly longer to catch up, young Brits have taken the look to their hearts. Mixing the “it feels as though we are wearing nothing at all” relaxation of joggers using the slim-fit of a more contemporary work trouser, they are equally at home in the bar or the gym.
While there could be an argument made for the right jogger paired with the ideal overshirt, we would suggest maintaining the streetwear vibe moving with a symbol T-shirt in the likes of Palace, Stussy, or Undefeated, a non-traditional lifestyle runner around the foot along with a slightly smarter bomber jacket.
- Cropped Trousers
Ankle swingers, as some wish to call them, are here to stay — and with good reason. Allowing your ankles to breathe in the summertime while still giving airtime to their footwear in cooler months, cropped pants are a great way to liven up what could be a tiring formal outfit. Disclaimer: by cropped pants, we mean shorter than your average, displaying a sliver of ankle or sock, not to be mistaken with pantaloons.
Along with providing your footwear a platform to glow, a precise harvest accentuates the line of the trews — since there’s nothing worse than puddling substance at the bottom of your ankle. Acquiring the length right is crucial, though. Unless they match perfectly off-the-peg, visit a tailor and take their guidance, but if you’re feeling braver, anything around three or four inches above the ankle is a safe bet.
Cropped trousers lend themselves well to both formal and off-duty configurations, though you are undoubtedly in the safer territory with the former. Cropped chinos in a sand color will work well with a simple white shirt, premium suede bomber, and whitened sports-luxe trainers on the weekend. Meanwhile, for more formal occasions, black cropped trousers worn with a grey blazer, charcoal roll throat, and oxblood dress shoes are ideal for a relaxed business-casual office.
- Cargo Pants
Cargo trousers have enjoyed something of a potted history, moving from army essential to early noughties oversized monstrosity. Now, enough time has passed that things have calmed down a bit and they’re back in a big (and much more stylish) way.
The key to getting cargo trousers right is ensuring they hit on the middle ground between slim and broad, so think tailored. It is indeed possible to technically fill their big ol’ pockets to the brim, however also in this case clean lines trump practicality, so leave them empty.
Standard-issue khaki green pairs well with almost anything in navy so think about an overshirt (yet another workwear workhorse) to get a weekend look that grafts. Meanwhile, if mild layers aren’t an option, a pair of contemporary black cargo trousers can be recruited alongside a white Oxford shirt, grey sweatshirt, and navy overcoat to get a look that passes inspection.