This post is a reprinting of a post on a forum that is frequented by Billax. Billax is not only one of my style role models, but a friend and a man that was Trad back when it was called Ivy League.
Hypothesis/Justification for trousers – cuff/no break and tapered leg casual pants.
I’ve worn the cuff/no break (see here: Cuff, no break)look for 56 years. I’ve also worn tapered-leg-opening casual pants for the same number of years. It’s a deeply ingrained preference for me, but can one work backward to an analytic justification for that look? Maybe.
I’ve been speculating on a set of principles that might/could justify the “look” of the pants I’ve worn so long. I’m at a point where I’ve stopped grinding on it, so I am writing it up to have thoughtful guys tear apart my principles and reasoning. Here goes:
There is one practice I always follow. If you can’t buy in to it as part of this thought experiment, what follows will make little or no sense. Here’s my practice: When standing, while wearing a jacket and tie, I button my jacket, except when wearing a vest or waistcoat. This practice (right or wrong) comes from my principles (up until recently completely inchoate)
Here are my three rules:
1) In TNSIL Men’s apparel all cinches, closures, and adjusters are invisible when standing.
2) In TNSIL Men’s apparel all ornamentation is exposed when standing.
3) When rules 1 and 2 are in conflict, rule 1 takes precedence.
So, what are cinches, closures, and adjusters? Firstly, they are NOT the top layer of apparel. Here’s a partial list:
- arm bands to adjust sleeve length
- shirt buttons
- tie bars (when used exclusively for promoting tie arch and verticality)
- shoe laces
All the above serve to organize, adjust, and hold the relative positions of one’s garments. They are not seen by others during business, professional, or formal settings.
Now, what are ornaments?
- cufflinks & studs
- Tie Bars that express one’s interests or have a ornamental design element
- Tassels, horse bit, or penny straps on loafers
- Lapel pins
All the above are designed to attract the eye
Issues that come up with my hypothesis:
- Shirt buttons are not covered by a bow tie. While I am not a bow tie wearer, I am a Bow tie fan.
- Monogrammed and otherwise fancy belt buckles are ornamentation on belts. When standing, while wearing a jacket and tie, a buttoned jacket with TNSIL rise trousers won’t show the ornamented buckle. (Rule 3)
Now, getting to trouser length and leg opening taper, here are side views of a classic dress shoe and a classic loafer. It is not necessary to like or dislike these shoes in order to make my point.
I’ll add a black rectangular overlay to represent trousers as they touch the dress shoe and the loafer.
First, a very dressy captoe – Allen Edmond’s Park avenue. To meet Rule 1, the leg opening must cover all the shoe laces on this 6 eyelet shoe. This shoe widens the required leg opening, and because of the high quarters on dress shoes, exposes no sock.
Second, an ornamented loafer – Allen Edmond’s Manchester. To meet Rule 2, the trouser leg must be both more narrow and sit a bit higher on the shoe. In addition, the low quarters on loafers will expose a little sock at the requisite height for ornamentation to show.. Whether the ornamentation on the loafer is a penny strap, a horse bit Gucci, or a tassel, the same result occurs – trou are narrower and sit higher on the shoe when wearing the more casual shoe.
Exception 1: Monk Straps and double Monk straps require trousers to drape lower on the shoe than any other footwear, so as to not violate Rule 1, which states that all cinches and closures must be covered when standing. No getting around it, monk straps are problematic for the TNSIL guy. Maybe that’s why I have never owned a pair.
Exception 2: Venetian loafers have no ornamentation and no closures, thereby having no min/max point for trouser height or width. Fifty-two years ago I bought my first (and only) pair of Venetians. I could not make them look “correct” with trousers of any height or width. That was the first time I ever thought to myself that, “There should always be some natural suggestion as to the relationship between apparel elements.” Still think that.
So, loafers with their ornamentation and lower quarters look best with a slightly narrower leg opening and sit slightly higher on the shoe. Laced dress shoes require trousers with a slightly wider leg opening sitting a little lower on the vamp. Socks will show with ornamented loafers, given their lower quarters. Socks will not show on dress shoes. THIS IS A DESIGN FEATURE, NOT A DEFECT. Any way, that’s my story and I’m sticking’ to it!