Men's Dress Pants Buying Guide
by Stephanie Petersen
Published April 28, 2010 | Updated April 17, 2015
A well-dressed man needs men's dress pants, and this buying guide will give you the tips you need to find the men's dress pants that are perfect for your life and your style. Once you know the details to look for, you'll be able to choose the perfect pair, even when you're online shopping.
Details of Men's Dress Pants:
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- Pleated Front or Flat-Front
Pleated front pants work well if you have larger thighs or if you carry extra weight low on your torso. One or two pleats can give a classic look to dress pants, but they can be too much on a slim man. This style requires a cuff. Flat front pants have a modern style which flatters men with slim builds. If you have larger thighs, this style may not accommodate your size.
- With or Without Cuffs
Cuffs are flattering on tall, lanky men, and pleated pants need the weight of a cuff to hold the pleat in place. Shorter men will look taller without cuffs, and cuffs are not necessary when wearing flat-front pants. If pants have cuffs when you buy them, a tailor can't take them out without dramatically changing the pants. Men's pants purchased without cuffs can have cuffs added by a tailor, if you'd like.
- Button or Zipper
Some men care and some men don't, but if you have strong feelings about button-fly pants or zip-fly pants, check to see the closure on the pants you want to purchase.
- Slash or Slit Pockets
Most slacks have angled pockets on the sides (also known as slash pockets), but there are slight variations on the back pockets. Dress pants rarely have patch pockets, and instead you'll see slit pockets most often. The slit pockets may or may not have a button closure, and sometimes only one pocket has a button. If the back pockets aren't described, be sure to look at the picture.
- Slim-Fit or Wide-Leg
It's not just a matter of fashion; different styles work better on different body types. Slender men will want to choose slim-fitting slacks, so they won't look like they're borrowing clothes from Dad. Men who are larger on top -- either with a belly or a muscular chest -- will want to choose wide-leg pants to balance their upper and lower halves.
- Lined or Not
Some pants -- usually those made from wool -- have a lining, often from the waist to the knees. If you prefer the feeling of the silky lining fabric to the feeling of wool, look for lined pants. Besides comfort, a lining can also help pants retain their shape.
Men's Dress Pant Fabrics:
Wool can be lightweight or heavyweight, so there are wool dress pants for all seasons. Wool is a durable fabric, but it does require a bit more care. Wool pants should always be dry cleaned, but you only need to have them cleaned about every five times you wear them. You may want to store them with cedar chips or moth balls. For wool with the softest feel, look for super 120 wool or higher, because this fabric is woven from the longest strands of wool.
An excellent choice for hot weather and warm climates, rayon dress pants have a similar feeling to cotton. Like wool pants, you'll need to dry clean them, but you don't need to wash them every time you wear them. This material does crease easily; to keep your pants looking fresh between cleanings, try using a steamer.
- Polyester Blends
For added durability and wrinkle-resistance, polyester is often blended with other fibers to create poly blends; this also makes dress pants more affordable. Poly-blend pants can be laundered at home. If you iron your pants yourself, you may want to place a cloth between the pants and the iron, so the iron won't create a shiny effect.
Men's Dress Pants Tips:
- Hem Your Pants
Many men's dress pants come un-hemmed, so you'll need to have a tailor add a hem. Additionally, your tailor can add a break, which changes how the pants hit the top of your shoes.
- Get a Perfect Fit
A tailor can add a cuff, which you'll want if your pants have a pleated front. He or she can also bring up the crotch if it hangs too low and take in the waist. Men with athletic builds will want to buy pants that fit in the seat and have the waist taken in.
- Always Hang Up Your Dress Pants
Use either a clamp hanger and hang the pants by their waistband or cuffs or use a fold-over hanger with a wide bar, preferably with rubber of some other type of padding. Remember to empty your pockets and line up the seams before you use either type of hanger.