First thing first, let’s start with the definition of a “Pant Break”:
A pant break is the fold or creasing of the fabric above the bottom of the front of the pant leg where it meets your shoe.
There is no absolute answer to what is the “proper” pant length.
Pant Break is a matter of personal style choice. It is important because it determines a man’s demeanor and aesthetic in an instance.
Generally speaking, higher break creates a younger vibe and edgy aesthetics; lower break creates a mature demeanor and vintage aesthetics.
There are four of the most common pant breaks and hemlines:
1. Cropped 2. No Break 3. Slight Break 4. Medium Break 5. Full Break
Some pant breaks are highly selective with suitable body types; while slight break is the safest options when you invest in pricey apparel.
1. CROPPED PANTS
Vibes: Casual, Creative, Young, Care-Free, Optimistic, European, Fashion-Forward.
Suitable Features: Men with slim body, slim legs; men who are short but not buff.
Best Outfits: Light-weighted fabrics, high-waisted, skinny or slim pants and chinos.
“Cropped Pants”: When the the pant legs are cropped higher than or around the ankles.
We’ve been in the era of ever-shrinking men’s pants since 2015. There is no limitation on how short the pants should be cropped.
Men often crop or simply fold their dress pants or chinos way above the ankle to pull off the look. Patterned socks, tan brogues, and white trainers have become the staple accessories to this trend.
The style is edgy.
And it’s slowly taking over the conventional look of the Suit.
These pants are versatile. With different combination of statement pieces, the aesthetics of cropped pant breaks can transform dramatically.
Cropped pants work best with plain white sneakers, no socks, minimalist t-shirt.
But If you’re looking for a less casual look, go with dress socks, leather shoes, and an overcoat.
The style is highly recommended to men with slim lower body.
Be brave, be creative.
2. NO BREAK and SLIGHT BREAK
Vibes: Contemporary Classic, Modern, Young and Driven, Perfectionist, Stylish.
Suitable Features: Men of slim to average build. Not suitable for men with strong thighs.
Best Outfits: Business Suits, woven or wool. Slim-cut trousers or chinos.
“No Break”: When the pant leg skims the top of the shoes.
“Slight Break”: When the pants are cut just long enough to sit on the top of the shoes, causing a very minimal amount of crease at the front.
Both styles are about fit and precision; as a result, it looks best without a cuff. Well-defined taper is common tailored for suit pants; it should be slim-fitting to keep the lines sharp and tight.
Traditionally, the pant leg is often tailored with slanted hemline (where the back angled a little longer than the front) so it sits perfectly on both sides of a pair of standard brogues.
A straight hemline, however, is the contemporary classic and speaks the style of a modern gent.
A suit that is “well-fitted” to every part of your body is the basis of personal styling. When investing in pricey suits, no break or slight break should be your top choices and it can only be achieved through professional tailoring. It is also suitable for other type of pants, including jeans and chinos.
These breaks look best on most body type for a reason: it brings out your natural body proportion.
It works best with slim or straight-cut pants because it has the best fit for most lower body shape.
The perfect fit of your pants is the paramount to look lengthened and stylish.
3. MEDIUM BREAK
Vibes: Timeless, Classically Well-Dressed, Mature, Trustworthy, Conservative, Gentlemanly.
Suitable Features: Men of all body type. Most suitable for men of heavier weight.
Best Outfits: Conservative Business Suit. Heavier fabrics such as flannels and tweed. Cut with roomy thigh areas.
“Medium Break”: The traditional standard for dress pants with a single horizontal fold dipping across the front of the ankle.
Medium break is by far the most comfortable and universally-loved pant break, be it dressy or casual.
It has the perfect length to cover the socks and to be pulled up when seated.
Medium break is widely-accepted for its comfort and conservative. But it might not be the best choice for pants acquired for aesthetic purpose.
Although in that case, you can always fold it up to the desired length.
For men with larger build or stronger thighs, straight-cut pants with medium break or slight break will always be the better fit.
Heavier fabrics or cuffs often shift the weight down to your ankle and draw the attention away from less flattering body parts.
Personal styling is about balancing your body’s proportion so that your bottom half complements your upper half.
4. FULL BREAK
Vibes: Vintage, Old-School, Bold, Retro, Throwback Soul, Jazz Age.
Suitable Features: Only suitable for elderly gentlemen and men with long legs.
Best Outfits: Wide-leg trousers. With vintage connoisseurs. Soft and lush fabrics.
“Full Break” means a fold that runs all the way around the leg.
While it is the trend to have as many creases for casual chinos and denim jeans, it is not the case when it comes to pants of any other fabrics.
There is a very thin line between full break and just looking like you forgot to hem your pants.
It is an extremely tough look to pull off well! Only very tall men might be able to appropriate the excessive folds.
Full break pants require vintage or retro outfits and accessories to complete the style.