Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Who Wears the Pants?

Just recently, I met with a new client who went to my shop with the simple objective of having pants made. He had seen the work we did for his friend and liked the way we were able to get his buddy out of his 80’s style inertia. So, he figured it was time for him to invest on some tailored clothes as well, starting with the easiest and simplest article –- pants.

What he thought would be a measure-and-run session ended up to be an almost hour-long orientation on the details to consider when having a pair of pants made. Here’s a summary of the check list we went through:

 FABRIC: Yes, there are other fabrics aside from khakis and denims. For office and smart casual dressing, favor light wool. For the first few pieces, stick to the basic shades of grey, navy and black. If you’re not up to dry cleaning and want a low maintenance fabric, polyester blends are what you are looking for. If you’re going to the beach or looking for something more casual, have a pair of linen pants made. This is the perfect fabric for the summer and goes well with leather sandals.

 PLEATS: For those who haven’t noticed yet, pleats, those tucks or folds found on the front part of pants, are OUT… for now at least. While pleats serve a practical purpose of allowing for extra room and movement, they are generally not flattering to the figure. They can cause your pants to balloon, if not pressed properly, adding an illusion of added pounds or unflattering bulges. If you’re still having anxiety attacks at the thought of wearing unpleated pants, take the baby step of having single-pleated pants made instead. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to retire those Sperry topsiders soon too.

 WAISTBAND: There are generally two ways to execute your pants’ waistband -- Center-button or Overlapping. I prefer the overlapping waistbands for a more contemporary look. I also find that this style is best for flat front pants.

 BELT LOOP: Make sure you tell your tailor if you’re going to wear your pants with a belt that’s wider than average. This will make sure he adjusts your pants’ belt loops wider than the standard 1 to 1½ inches width.

 SIDE POCKETS: I bet you never thought there were options when it came to pockets did you? Well, there are basically two styles to choose from: Continental or On-seam/slide pockets. Continental pockets are those that are cut on the front part of your pants, almost parallel to your waistband. This style is also more contemporary and stylish, but less functional. It’s just a little bit more difficult to reach into continental pockets, especially if you’re pants fit exactly to your body. If you’re the type who uses your pocket a lot, like me, I suggest you go with the traditional on-seam/slide pocket.

 BACK POCKET: Decide on one, two or none. Typically, dress pants only have one. Apart from your wallet, what else would you put in our back pocket anyway?

 CUFFS: I’m not a big fan of cuffs largely because I don’t like the way they break the clean silhouette that a good-fitting pair of pants creates. Having no cuffs also creates a vertical illusion; perfect for the average 5’6” tall Pinoy. Should you prefer cuffs, they are typically 1¼ inches wide and are more appropriate for casual pants.

 BREAK: And lastly, pay attention to how your pants break. This refers to how the ends of the legs of your pants fold when they hit your shoes. The break needs to be subtle. A large break makes you look like you borrowed a taller friend’s pair of pants, while having no break, makes you look like you had a Cherifer™ or Growee™ overdose.

As we wound up our discussion, Mr. New Client leans forward and whispers, “Oh, and do you think you can give me a butt with my new pants?” Mind you, this is a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) to which the answer is, “I can only work with what the Almighty has given you.” And if that’s not enough, my shop is 10 min. away from Dra. Belo’s clinic.

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