A subscriber to my subreddit Ask A Tailor, wants to find the perfect pair of pants. It’s hard to find what some would call a “Unicorn”, a pair of comfortable, long lasting, and specifically designed pants that aren’t something you can find on a rack.
Honestly, the conversation was great, with him asking a multitude of questions that I had the answers to. It’s wonderful speaking with people that have a genuine desire to learn about the ins and outs of a topic you love, isn’t it?
I’m going to copy his initial post here in bold italics with answers I gave. Feel free to chime in on the subreddit as well!
“I WANT THE MOST PERFECT PANTS FOR MY BODY. M, 60, 5’9”, 280LB, SHORT LEGS.
Every pair of pants I have first give out by the cloth disintegrating where it rubs together at my inner thigh. That pants are gone within 5% of their life. I can repair, but that gains me another 5-10% of the pant life. Can this be prevented by design?
1) Every pair of pants I have first give out by the cloth disintegrating where it rubs together at my inner thigh. That pants are gone within 5% of their life. I can repair, but that gains me another 5-10% of the pant life. Can this be prevented by design?
A: Not particularly by design, unfortunately. What’s happening is you’re taking two pieces of fabric “sandpaper” and rubbing them together with varying degrees of force, and it’s inevitable that wear and tear happens — quite literally. How this CAN be combatted is trying to make these pants with durable fabrics that resist this type of wear and adjusting the fit to stabilize the movement between your upper inner thighs, aka the “fork”. Heavier weight worsted wools are ideal, with pleats and a lower/longer rise with front and back lining are three solid ways to begin. The downside is that let’s say you go for super heavyweight worsted and you live in Florida or another hot area, you may be miserable. The key here, though, is to experiment. Although costly, it’s the best option.
2) I have had pants that had satin cloth loosely sewn in rectangles in front of my thighs. These were fantastic for sitting down – the pant leg slid smoothly up my legs as I bent my knees. For most pants, I have to grab the front part of the leg and yank it up as I sit down.
A: I touched on this above, but I can’t stress enough the importance of double pleats and full front and back lining! Not only are they comfortable, but it will let the legs almost rotate around your legs rather than stick and rub.
3) Most pants, like jeans, end up with the belt under my belly, and my belly hangs over them. I’d like pants where the belt secures the pants higher on my belly. I like the function of suspenders, but they look unusual nowadays. Is there such a thing as hidden suspenders (maybe they invisibly go underneath a long-sleeved dress shirt?)
A: I’m stumped on this one. I don’t believe there is, and the rubbing on your shoulders would be excruciating pretty quickly. That’s most likely why they’re not a thing. I will say that suspenders are making a comeback, and functional rather than currently stylish clothing is as well. Remember that you’re never out of style, just ahead of the next trend.
4) The other reason I would like the belt to sit higher is that makes my short legs look longer.
A: Suspenders and a looser waistband leads to a looser seat which leads to a looser fork which leads to less wear and tear. It’s a beautiful combination!
5) I like pleats (vertical folds) at the front of my pants. I like the feeling of some roominess. I like front pockets that have a more vertical opening, and if there is something in my pocket, it is not visible from the outside.
A: This makes me so happy to hear because every bit of what you just said will make it easier to engineer the perfect pant for your body!!
6) I have had pants where the top of a vertical pocket opening integrates with an expandable elastic waist. I don’t like it being elastic because the elastic soon weakens. I would prefer some sort of hidden lacing (like shoe laces on each side). If my waist gets smaller, I tighten the laces; if larger, I loosen the laces. The fit can always be made perfect so that the circle of the pants about 2-3″ below the belt rests snugly against my hips. This might be able to support 90% of the weight of the pants, and the belt might become more decorative than functional.
A: You’re needing beltless waistbands with side tab adjusters and a dinner split in the back. Ditch the belt unless you’re wearing jeans or similar, and live the life of a comfortable person in suspender land.
7) I do not like back pockets. My butt is big enough and pockets make it look bigger. I also don’t use them.
A: Then in design and patterning I’d definitely tell back pockets to skeedaddle. (Spelling?)
8) I like the look of upturned cuffs at the bottom of the legs, but they collect dirt and wear out quickly. There must be a better design.
A: There isn’t, unfortunately, without closing off the cuff at the top. I will say that with proper heel guards and the right length, they won’t wear out as quick.
9) A wider looser leg is more comfortable. In my younger days, bell bottom pants were a fashion. I always loved the way those wore.
A: I touched on this above. I think a looser leg is ideal.
11) Needs to last a long time.
A: This right here is the unicorn you’re really looking for. From a Tailoring perspective, we can engineer the pants to react in a much better way to your everyday wear. But it’s going to be somewhat costly to iterate on until we find the near perfect solution, then the importance of duplicating that pant so you never re-wear the same pair more than twice a week. Remember that 5x week wear is quite literally 5x the wear and tear. If you have 5 pair of the right color and fit, you’ll get the added benefit of less dry cleaning, which cuts down on cloth breakdown.
12) I don’t wear suits. A pair of pants like this, with a dress shirt (sleeves rolled up) and maybe a tie would be good enough; maybe a sweater, sometimes a vest.
A: All of this is possible. I can’t help with making sweaters, but I can help you source good looks if ones that pair with what’s in your closet that you love.
READY TO READ MORE?
For those of you that don’t know, Reddit is a navigable archive of information that’s broken down into what’s called “subreddits”. Each sub is kept on-topic by a group of moderators that are dedicated to ensure that if you want to learn about dogs, there aren’t any posts about cats. Or in our case with my sub, learn more about tailoring rather than cooking. It’s a data rich website that you can learn so much from when used for that purpose.
I invite you to join my sub called Ask a Tailor, where you can ask questions about tailoring and clothing, and be given answers by those of us that are thought leaders and masters of the craft.