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What’s a break? The break is when the front of your pants or trousers hits your shoe and creates a little dent that is elegant and not too extreme. No break is when the hem of your pants just hang straight and doesn’t even touch the shoe at all. Half break is if you see a slight dent in the front and full break if you have a noticeable dent in the front of the pants but none in the back. If you see pants that have dents in the front and in the back they are simply too long and it looks extremely sloppy.
Why should you care about the break in your pants? It really has an impact on the overall neatness of your outfit. If you wear a nice robe stripe double-breasted suit and your pants are either too long or too short, it makes you look goofy or sloppy. Also if you’re a tall man and you have very short pants it exaggerates your height and you look even taller and sometimes like a clown. Also if you have a certain pair of socks that you want to show off maybe a half break is exactly what you want because with a full break your socks will be invisible.
To determine what break is right for you, first look at your pant hem. Is it cuffed or is it uncuffed? If it’s cuffed that means you need less of a break. If you have an uncuffed pants and you go with no break it simply looks too short and the lack of the weight means that your pants will probably get stuck to your socks and stay further up.
If you wear cuffed pants you already have an advantage because you have more weight which pulls down your trousers more and it just creates a cleaner line and therefore you can have a shorter pants length and less of a break. If you prefer uncuffed trousers you could talk to an alterations tailor and add little lead weights to the size of your pants that way you have the same effect as with a cuffed trouser and you can get a very neat look.
Now with a tight pair of pants they touch your shoe a lot earlier than with a wider cut pair of pants where they touch it at the bottom of your laces. The wider the pants are, the longer you can hem them. The slimmer and tighter they are the shorter you have to hem them.
If you have uncuffed trousers in a wide full cut style you have to cut them a little wider but keep in mind even with a full break you just want a nice dent in the front and none in the back.
One thing I’m personally extremely fond of is a angled hem. This is something you usually only find in bespoke garments especially when it’s a cuffed angle hem. When you angle a pair of pants with cuffs you actually have to create a faux cuff that is separately cut from something but it has the advantage that it’s always long in the back and it probably can even touch almost the heel of your shoe but in the front it’s cut higher so you get that slight break. It looks elegant with a black tie or white tie outfit because you get that slight break but that long line in the back.
Having angled pant hems is definitely one of the little tricks of the trade and if your alterations tailor doesn’t know how to do an angle hem with cuffs you probably have to seek out the tailor or someone who is really experienced with custom clothing. Of course you can only do that if you have a lot of extra width or an unfinished pair of pants.
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