Like most guys, I spend my clams on Instagram-worthy kit: the sartorial triad of watches, sneakers, and jackets. However, it’s easy to forget about the thing doing the leg-work in your wardrobe.
Pants, or trousers are – almost – always worn, but rarely get the respect attached to the cool stuff you took out a third loan to purchase.
Think about it. You can leave the house without your Patek and your favourite blazer, but you’ll always need pants. Face it, ‘pants-free’ parties are rarely on the cards these days as disappointing as that sounds.
If you need another reason, remember that pants can determine an outfit’s formality. Pairing shmick wool trousers with your go-to jacket will create a different look compared to the same jacket, but with chinos or jeans.
Spare a minute for the examples we’ve selected with your current wardrobe in mind, you clever chap.
Uniqlo are advocates of affordable menswear which won’t have you cringing. Their pleated trousers represent a sartorial ace that will make you look like those cool guys at Pitti Uomo (or at least, someone who wants to be one).
Before arguing, it’s obvious that pleated trousers have returned to the menswear zeitgeist. A glance through #menswear demonstrates how they look mustard with either streetwear, or a three-piece suit.
Versatility, without nuking your wallet into orbit. Caveat emptor – you need to be on the slimmer side for this look, so persist with that New Year’s resolution, you lazy bastard (you know the one).
Like most switched-on blokes, you’ll know that Japanese craftsmanship is the business.
Beams Japan offer that desirable ‘Made in Japan’ assurance for hard-wearing investments that pay off with repeated wear.
With elasticated cuffs, these pants are a solid choice for your weekend muck-about, without risking a premature split seam.
They’re also a wicked alternative for informal occasions, where a bomber jacket and a white tee replaces the shirt-jacket combo. Bonus points in that they make you look like the kind of guy that streetstyle photographer’s follow.
J. Crew has weathered the storm of men’s fashion like champions. Any brand that can survive the sartorial peril of the 80’s, and the rise and fall of the graphic tee deserves another look.
J. Crew’s chinos offer a ‘something for everyone’ philosophy: pick the relaxed fit for knock-about pants you aren’t afraid to thrash, or tailored options that won’t look silly on the corporate battlefield.
J. Crew might not enjoy the obscure factor smaller boutiques have – but you’re a grown up, so competing for ‘cool points’ no longer matters.
Most guys fret over the murky casual-formal spectrum of menswear. Where do the two meet? How do you dress up x item? Scandanavian up-and-comer Cos, has refined casual-formal in such a manner that we can’t really tell where they sit.
Their wool-flannel trousers are a staple: wear them with a plain tee for easy style in summer, or an open-neck shirt for when it’s not mild enough to whip out a blazer. Smart enough for town, without the risk of overdressing. Cos aren’t trend-hunters, and weather seasonal tumult
For Italian collective Slowear, Incotex started it all. They’re the self-described ‘pioneers of smart-casual’, an assessment that passes the D’Marge sniff test, having been in operation since 1951.
Incotex blend structured pieces and workwear, contrasting a rugged and tailored aesthetic – as demonstrated with their new cargo pants. Now, most blokes avoid cargo pants, because it’s not 2006, and who needs that much pocket space?
That aside, Incotex offer a tailored cargo variant that works in casual ensembles with colour staples like blue and grey. You can introduce some workwear inspiration, without looking like you’re trying to impersonate a mid-century railroad worker.
Everyone should get ACNE at some point. No, the brand isn’t named after a traumatic bodily function many of us suffer.
ACNE stands for Ambition to Create Novel Expressions, a nod to their overall mission to create interesting basics that underpin a male wardrobe. ACNE have the only denim product in this list, and with good reason.
ACNE denim is top shelf stuff that fulfil two important sartorial criteria, which is to a) look good after a thrashing and b) stand the test of time after repeated thrashing. This skinny-fit choice will be your go-to striders for weekends, with either a plain tee, or that hilarious floral party shirt you’ve been itching to wear.
WooYoungMi are a fresh offering from South Korea (yes, you can get good kit outside Japan, Italy, or the UK). Wooyoungmi are a family brand, with Woo Young Mi’s daughter joining as creative director in 2014.
Their current collection is oriented towards a tailored aesthetic, with a modest tonal range of black and grey. These pants are a wide fit, with a shorter cut for those style pioneers who brave the no-sock look. Wooyoungmi, in our mind, works best in an ensemble that is on the tailored end of the spectrum, for occasions that demand a blazer-shirt-tie combination.
You’ve probably heard that Scandinavian design is no joke. NN07 – stands for No Nationality – are committed to seeing their kit on as many blokes as possible, regardless of background. They embrace minimalism, for long-term wardrobe mileage.
The ‘Marco’ slim fit are on the cusp of a formal dress-pant, without looking like part of a suit. They feature a herringbone weave, for when a plain weave isn’t enough.
These pants are also a stretch fabric, offering peace of mind for those nights on the move – it takes a special gent to walk away from a ripped crotch, dignity intact.
It’s hard to make sweatpants look schmick. You’ve either just come from the gym, or are brutally hungover. NYC-based Theory have overcome this impression, turning sweatpants into something that blends tailoring with the essence of comfort everybody seeks in a pair of sweats.
The ‘Runnor’ slim fit are designed for weekends where your dressier numbers need a rest. They’re made from softer materials in a stretch fabric, so expect long-term enjoyment.
And with a tapered leg and contrast detailing, you can avoid the impression you’ve just reactivated your neglected gym membership.
Topman are a popular option for those leaner months, when most of your paycheck has gone towards more sneakers or your third iPhone screen replacement.
Topman’s essence is in dependable basics, and their pants are usually plain texture and block coloured.
Nothing too complicated; easy to incorporate in the weekly rotation. Now, these guys can go pretty snug, so go for a tapered fit. That is, of course, if you intend to leave something to the imagination.