Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?
Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?
Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day — it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 
For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs — which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here. 
The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 
So, finding that sweet spot — where a rise is high, but not too high — is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 
Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit — which I thought was great — but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 
Outside of them, there’s Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O’Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring Jacket, Jack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire. 

Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?

Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?

Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day — it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 

For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs — which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here

The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 

So, finding that sweet spot — where a rise is high, but not too high — is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit — which I thought was great — but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 

Outside of them, there’s Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O’Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring JacketJack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire

Finding a Higher Rise Chino
For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 
The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.
The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 
A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 
More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 
A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.
(Photo above by The Armoury)

Finding a Higher Rise Chino

For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 

The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.

The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 

A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 

More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 

A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.

(Photo above by The Armoury)

The Custom Shirt Series, Part IV: Where to Get a Custom Shirt

There are hundreds of places to get a custom shirt made. This week we’ll review some of them, starting with some of the traditional (and not so traditional) models for custom shirtmaking.

The Traditional Tailor

The most traditional way is going through a specialized custom shirtmaker. These include places such as Turnbull & Asser, Anna Matuozzo, and CEGO Custom Shirtmakers. What’s available to you depends on where you live, and if you search around StyleForum, you may find a number of recommendations. 

There are a number of advantages to seeing a specialized tailor in person. For one, you’re more likely to get a bespoke and not made-to-measure service. This means that a specific paper pattern, from which your cloth will be cut, will be made for you. In made-to-measure models, a computer adjusts a pre-designed pattern to fit your measurements. Depending on your body type, bespoke may result in a better fit. Seeing a specialist also means the tailor can account for things not captured by simple measurements – things such as whether your shoulders curve or slope, what your natural stance is like, and whether you have protruding shoulder blades. Other shirtmakers mentioned in this series may be able to do these things for you, but your chances go up when you see a renowned specialist in the field (though, again, not everyone in this category can, so it’s best to inquire first).

I myself use Ascot Chang, and couldn’t recommend them more highly. Of all the custom shirtmakers I’ve gone to, none have made anything as cleanly, precisely, and consistently well fitting. In addition to the product, you’re also paying for their expertise and service. They can advise you on what cloths and collars suit you best, and once they make your order, they keep a stock of your shirting on hand so that they can make replacement collars and cuffs when you need them. If well taken care of, a custom Ascot Chang shirt can last for quite a long time.

The downside to these types of tailors is the price. Most shirts in this class start around $200, and there’s often a minimum first order of three to six shirts, depending on the tailor you use. At the same time, it’s important to note that these tend to be the best of the best. When compared to the price of high-end designer shirts – none of which will fit well – these represent an infinitely better value.

The Traveling Tailor Model

If you can’t go to a specialist, a specialist can come to you. A number of tailoring outfits travel around Europe and the United States in order to meet with clients. Such outfits include Napoli Su Misura, Dege & Skinner, and MyTailor. The upsides here are generally the same as the ones mentioned above (quality, fit, and service). The downside is that they can sometimes take longer to get your pattern right. With a traditional tailor, once you get your first shirt, you can take it home, wear and launder it a few times, and then bring it back so the tailor can see where adjustments need to be made. If your body changes over the course of time, your pattern can easily be adjusted as well. With a traveling tailor, you have to wait until they return, which sometimes isn’t for another four to six months. Still, if you’re not able to see a renowned specialist in your area, a traveling tailor is a good alternative. 

The Hybrid Model

Lastly, we have J. Hilburn, which represents a sort of hybrid model. J. Hilburn has a number of regional representatives that meet with clients around the United States. These reps take clients’ measurements, walk them through the custom shirt ordering process, and deliver shirts to their home or office. I have a couple of shirts by Hilburn, and admit to being skeptical about the model at first. These aren’t people who have lifelong experiences in tailoring, after all. However, the woman who met me knew her stuff quite well and noted that everyone who works for the company gets trained in Texas.  

The upside to J. Hilburn is that they have representatives in almost every city and they’re much more affordable. The starting price for a custom shirt here is about $90, which is about half of what a good tailor in the other categories will charge. The downside is that this is made-to-measure, so the fit won’t be as precise. My Hilburn shirts are just a touch tight in the chest and lower back, which makes the shirts a bit slimmer than I’d like. A friend of mine, The Silentist, also went to them, but found the shirt to be fuller than he’d like. Still, mine are perfectly serviceable, and although Hilburn offers to remake or alter any shirt that clients are unhappy with, I haven’t made a fuss about mine. Like with all made-to-measure clothing, I don’t expect the fit to be as good as bespoke; it’s simply meant to be decent enough for the price. To be sure, my Hilburn shirts certainly fit better than my off-the-rack garments, just not as well as Ascot Chang’s. 

If you care to go with Hilburn, you can use my referral link to knock $50 off your first order (full disclosure: I get a small referral bonus). You can also learn more about them in an earlier post I wrote here

The advantage of each of these models – the traditional, traveling, and J. Hilburn’s hybrid - is that you can see someone in person. This means being able to show someone how the first shirt fits on you, so that they can better make adjustments. It’s a mistake to think that you can figure this out on your own, or that you can turn to places such as StyleForum for “fit critiques.” How well a shirt fits is more nuanced and complicated than people give it credit for, and if you want something truly perfect, it’s best to see a specialist in person (particularly one who will make you a bespoke shirt). You can also rely on them for advice regarding collar and cuff styles, try on different collars (if they have samples you can see), and handle the fabric swatches in person. 

On Wednesday, I’ll review some of the online custom shirtmakers, and talk about which I’ve had the best experiences with. 

(Photos by Michael Williams and Simon Crompton)