I am still in pursuit of a pair of collegiate fit chinos (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). I recently picked up a pair of vintage chinos from Newton Street Vintage with the perfect taper (or so I thought) and I set out to reproduce them. This seemed like a pretty straight forward task and I thought that it would be the answer to all of my chino problems. Spoiler alert: They were not the cure-all. However, I did learn quite a bit about tailoring and myself in the process.
I brought 4 pair of Lands’ End Tailored fit chinos (Which have suddenly disappeared from the website…discontinued?) to my tailor along with the vintage chinos that would serve as the pattern. This was mistake number one. I should have started by altering one pair of chinos and if that was successful then brought in the other pairs. However, my desire for a wardrobe full of perfectly fitting chinos and the fact that my tailor is an hour haul from my house prevented me from seeing the flaw in my plan.
A week later I picked up my chinos and once again experienced the thrill of holding what I thought to be the perfect chinos in my hands. I rushed home and tried them on. They looked great! I could not wait to wear them the next day.
I left my house with my collegiate fit chinos creased up and looking very sharp. I took a picture (Picture above). I reviewed it. I was very pleased. Unfortunately this feeling did not last long.
After a few hours of sitting at my desk the once sharp looking trousers with a sleek silhouette now looked much different. The area from my knee to my ankle had completely lost its shape and the trousers that had looked perfect on me only a few hours ago now looked way too small and ill fitting (Picture above). This is when I realized my 2nd mistake. I should have asked the seamstress to leave some extra material so that I could let the chinos out a little if the experiment did not work. I will be doing this going forward.
I don’t want to let the negative outcomes of this portion of my journey overshadow the good that came from it, as I learned quite a bit. Here are a few things that I learned:
(Know Yourself) I have muscular legs and I will have to take this into consideration when tapering trousers. I used to think that my chinos flared out below the knees because the leg opening was too small. It turns out that they did this because my calf muscle was pulling them one way and my knee/thigh the other.
(Be Patient) Don’t get all of your clothes altered at once unless you are certain that will like the result.
(Be Cautious) If you are not certain that you will like the result of your alterations ask the seamstress to leave some material so that the operation can be reversed.
I also learned a little bit more about collegiate fit chinos specifically. The percentages that I gave in my first post (Collegiate Cut Chinos Part 1) seem to hold true. In this post, I attempted to go slimmer than the numbers recommended and I learned my lesson. The leg opening on these trousers is 7.25” (Picture at top of page), but the trousers that I had tapered to 7.45” in the previous collegiate fit chinos post worked a lot better for me (Picture above). However, the skinnier thigh on the new pairs fit better.
The biggest lesson I learned from this experiment is that what I want and what looks best on me are not always going to be the same thing. My hunt for collegiate fit chinos appears to be merging with my pursuit of the perfect chinos. I now have more questions to answer such as, “Would a heavier chinos help reduce the knee bulge?” , “Would a poly/cotton (Yeah I said poly) help?”, and “Is this just the nature of chinos?”. If anyone has any thought I would love to here them.