If the pants fit…

If the pants fit…

Q. I have a difficult time getting pants to fit me properly since I have a 37-inch waist. I have to buy the next size larger — 38-inch — and the result is that the crotch usually looks like it is too big, even if altered. Do you have any solution for suit trousers and other pants? Please do not suggest custom made clothes as I have to live within a budget.

A. The reason a lot of men have trouble finding trousers that fit is that men’s pants are made in exact sizes from the smallest (28 inches) up to 36; but for sizes larger than that, the numbers skip to only even sizes. So, if your waist is an odd number measurement (37, 39, 41, or larger), you need — as you have found — to buy an even-number size, then have the waist altered, and perhaps alter the seat as well.

It also sounds as if you need trousers with a “short rise.” These make all the difference when you are looking for pants that fit well, especially if you are a shorter man. The rise on trousers is the measurement from the crotch to the waist. Men’s trousers are made with three different rises: short, regular, and long. Unfortunately, this is not something that is easy to recognize. A man’s correct rise depends not only on his body type, but also on where he likes his pants to sit: at his actual waistline, above it, or below it. Different makers have different ways of cutting clothes; they do not all make all three rises. That helps explain why some pants fit you better than others.

If you need a short rise, you should investigate which of the manufacturers specialize in making them. Quite a few do. Ask a knowledgeable salesperson in a reputable store which companies that they stock make a short-rise trouser. When buying “odd” (separate) trousers, limit yourself to buying those with a short-rise. As for suits: they may fit you perfectly in the jacket, but not so perfectly in the pants. That is where a store with a good tailoring department becomes a big plus; having clothes altered is much less costly than buying custom-made clothing.

Here are some adjustments and alterations that a good shop can make without a great deal of expense, and also a few helpful tips:

  • If you are not wide across the seat (which it sounds like from your description), you might take the opposite approach. Instead of taking in trousers that are too big in the waist (your size 38’s), you can instead buy size 36 trousers and have the waist let out. Manufacturers of wool suits and dress pants build in extra fabric to allow for this. The pants will have a cleaner and leaner fit, and you may not need to adjust the seat at all.
  • If the pants you like do not have a waist as large as you need, another type of alteration can be made, lowering the waist. This enlarges the waist and also creates a shorter rise.
  • For a perfect fit, slip the pants on without a belt. Put in the pockets the items you normally carry. Position them where you regularly like to wear them. Don’t allow the tailor to adjust them. This will allow the trousers to settle naturally and let you judge the fit.
  • While being fitted, wear the shoes you plan to wear with your new suit or trousers. If you have come shopping with shoes that have a slightly different height heel, ask the salesman for a pair from the store’s stock to wear during the fitting.
  • When you go shopping for a new suit or new dress trousers, bring a pair of pants that fit you the way you like, and show them to the tailor. It will help him get yours right.

For another approach, there is something between having a lot of alterations done and custom made; it is called “made-to-measure.” Made-to-measure is a middle category of men’s clothing, an alternative that falls between the luxury of custom made (also called “bespoke”) and off-the-rack (ready-made). This option allows for variations in choice of fabric and for a great many customized possibilities to be made during the actual manufacturing process, rather than re-cutting and remaking an already-made garment. Although it costs somewhat more than off-the-rack clothes, made-to-measure is often a wise and worthwhile choice for the man who wants to indulge in something special, but does not want anything nearly as expensive as true custom made. And the fit is usually outstanding.

Send your men’s dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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