I recently talked to Mark Cho and Ethan Desu, two of the three men who run The Armoury, about one of my favorite men’s style topics: trousers. Both Mark and Ethan style and fit men of different builds for a living, so I thought it would be worthwhile to ask them what they think flatters men the most. We talked about three aspects: the height of the rise, style of the fronts, and fullness of the legs.
For the height of the rise, Mark has found that almost all men (with the exception of those who are lanky) look better in a high waist. By “high waist” he means something that either sits at, or just below, the belly button. “We deal with many Asian men who often have longer torsos and shorter legs,” Mark noted. “A high-waisted trouser does wonders for them. It is pretty rare that we recommend a low-waisted trouser, but often customers will prefer it for fashion reasons.”
As for the style of the fronts, a man can choose either flat fronts or pleats. Which is best depends on his overall size, total height, and proportions above and below the belt, as well as the thickness of his legs, shape of his stomach, and size of his posterior. Depending on these configurations, pleats can serve a number of purposes. They can break up an otherwise flat expanse of fabric at the front of the trouser, add comfort, and put a bit of fullness around and in front of the thighs. A corpulent man, for example, may need a fuller leg, and pleats would not only give him some room, but also visually break up the flat, empty cloth at the front of his body.
In general, Mark recommends a flat front or single pleat for men with flat seats, and flat fronts, single pleats, or even double pleats for those with rounder ones. As the number of pleats increases, the fullness of the legs should also increase in order to maintain a balance.
At the same time, Ethan added, fit is everything. He’s a slightly bigger guy with big legs and a big seat, but a reasonably flat stomach. He wears everything from flat fronts to single- or double-forward pleats, as well as single- or double-reverse pleats. He finds that they all have their advantages. “If trousers are well fitted,” he said, “all styles can look good. Anything that doesn’t probably has more to do with the fit than style."
Finally, as to how full the trousers’ legs may be, the gentlemen at The Armoury are fairly open to any size, as long it makes sense. While they dislike tight trousers, they find that a nicely tapered leg with no break can work on the right frame, and a full leg can be good as well. It just has to make sense on the person. They personally prefer something with a bit of shape in the leg rather than something that is narrow and goes straight down. That means a small curvature in the taper, and a nice cinch to the waist above the buttocks.
These days, as I near my mid-30s, I like my trousers to have a high-waist, very slight taper, one break, and slim, but somewhat full legs. Luciano Barbera and Ethan Desu, pictured above, illustrate this style well. I find that anything narrower and lower-waisted exaggerates the size of my feet, length of my torso, and width of my hips. Of course, this is just what I’ve been finding works well for my build. In choosing something for yourself, I recommend you refer to the more generalized guidelines above and remember to pay attention to proportions, as well as what flatters.