The length of dress pants, or suit trousers is defined by what is called the ‘break’. This is how much of the trouser leg is folded or creased above where the bottom of the fabric meets your shoe. There are four different types of break: full break, half break, quarter break and no break at all.
Mainline Menswear has done some research into the matter, to provide you with a simple explanation to trouser breaks and lengths. We’ll let you know all about what the different breaks are, and how and when to wear them.
What are breaks?
To summarise; the break is where the bottom of your trouser meets the shoe. It’s noticeable by how much your trousers bunch up, or fold around the ankles. Different types of breaks are more suitable for certain trousers or situations. But we’ll get onto that later.
No break is when the trouser hem kisses the top of the shoe. Sat down your socks will definitely be visible for this look, as it occurs with shorter pant lengths. This style looks best with a tapered leg and well-defined tailoring. It’s easy to pull off but you just have to be careful about your choice of socks. This is something you may notice Jon Snow on Channel 4 News taking advantage of quite a lot…
Quarter break is the most stylish look out of the four. It’s a contemporary look where you have between a half inch and an inch of fabric slightly creased around your ankle. Ideal for the modern business man, it shows off that you know how suit trousers should fit. But you’re also not trying too hard to be trendy with no break at all.
Half break is another smart look, ideal for a more conservative gentleman. For a half break there will be roughly between one and two inches of fabric creased or folded above the shoe. This look works best when your trousers are not tapered. It can also work very well with a cuff – where there’s a few folds at the bottom of your trouser leg.
Full break; this occurs when you intentionally wear trousers that are slightly too long for your leg. Anything above 2 inches of extra fabric will create this look, and it works best with a slightly wider style of trouser. The full break is perfect for the older, or heavier gentleman. It can look very elegant but you need to be careful the trousers aren’t too long. Otherwise the excess of fabric will just look clumsy and untidy.
How to wear your trousers
For smarter, suit trousers, a quarter or half break provides the neatest look. The fabric over the back of your shoe should end slightly lower than it does at the front, where the break will be noticeable. Suit trousers can be specifically tailored to have this break, and is becoming the most common look for most men. If you don’t want to stand out in your business suit, and are simply going for the look of a well-dressed gentleman, this is a look you should work on pulling off.
When wearing chinos, to achieve the best look you should opt for a shorter pair, with no break at all. Chinos are a versatile trouser, which can be worn to work with a shirt and tie. They also work equally well in casual situations. If you’re wearing slim fitting chinos, no break will help to show the shape of the trousers, and further accentuate your style.
Jeans are the final trouser style we’ll assess, and by far the most worn these days. With jeans, you can tailor them however you want, going from a full break to no break to provide different looks. The safest option with jeans is a half break, which is suitably casual, without looking too long. Wearing jeans with no break is fine, just make sure you choose a suitable pair of socks. A full break on jeans can also work, but you need to be careful that you’re not dragging extra fabric along the ground when you walk.
The most important thing when choosing your trouser length, is to make sure you think it looks good with the rest of your outfit. Try the trousers on both standing and sitting – and always try them on with shoes.
Mainline Menswear sells over 250 different pairs of trousers, from a huge number of different brands. If you want to find out more about how trousers should fit, check out this recent post on how to measure your clothes.
You can also visit our website here to browse our extensive collection of trousers, as well as footwear and other clothing.