Collegiate Cut Chinos Part 4: The Saga Continues

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.
Vintage Collegiate Cut TrousersI 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.
Collegiate Cut Chinos

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.
Chino Knee Bulge ProblemAfter 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:

  1. (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.
  2. (Be Patient) Don’t get all of your clothes altered at once unless you are certain that will like the result.
  3. (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.

Collegiate Cut Chinos First Attempt
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.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

8 Comments on "Collegiate Cut Chinos Part 4: The Saga Continues"

  1. Jerrod,

    Is it possible for you to post a photo of your calf and thigh (whilst wearing shorts) so readers can understand what you are saying. Afterall, a picture paints 1000 words.

    Your friend,


  2. Erik says:

    I know the feeling of over altering, so I completely sympathize. Have you considered starching the chinos? John Tinseth swears by it and it would add weight and stiffness to them, helping to maintain the knife edge crease.

    Lately I’ve been wearing Bills M2s that I have tapered a little and LL Bean Double L chinos. Bills are more authentic, but the Beans have the higher waist with a slim and tapered leg. They are perm press, however, and are treated to reduce wrinkles and stains. If you can swallow that, they’re some of the most trad ready to wear pants you’ll find.

  3. oxford cloth button down says:

    Erik – Thanks for the short review of the Bills and Bean chinos. I may have to try the Double L’s. Also, I don’t use starch, but I do use light body Magic Sizing (basically light starch).

    Andy – I made add in an illustration. Good idea.

  4. fxh says:

    oxxy – good post – I think you’ll find that a “proper” mens’ tailor – not an alterationist or seamstress is a better bet for the “Golden Fit” task.

    A mens tailor – who can make a suit – has a lot more knowledge of how mens trousers etc fit and respond to alterations in width, length, openings, rise, waist etc. And he will give you feedback and often – usually rightly – refuse to do certain things. I have had great friendly tension with my tailor and the push and pull and compromise over the years is usually the right thing and turns out better. Years ago I ruined jackets and suits by using seamstresses who would do what I wanted!

    I do realise that access to a tailor isn’t always possible.

    Keep us informed. AS my Dad used to say “Much better to learn from the mistakes of others than your own”

  5. fxh says:

    btw _ I do think that 7.25″ or too much under 8″ is not a mans width – more boy territory.

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    FXH – Thanks for the comments. I do go to a tailor, but if you are not getting a suit made he is passing off the work to a seamstress. Is this common? Also, I am right n between boy and man size, haha. I am just trying the perfect leg opening for me.

  7. Bernie says:

    I think you may be trying to chase unicorns or something. Clothes get creases, baggy knees, wrinkles… That is the nature of clothes. If you’re trying to get that perfect look you saw in a magazine, that will not happen. The picture was taken under labatory conditions. It cannot be reproduced outside of the lab. It’s like a teenage girl trying to look like an air-brushed super model in a fashion magazine. It’s not real. It cannot be reproduced without Photo Shop . Just get as close to the look as you can and realize it’s the imperfections that makes it perfect.

  8. snakeninny says:

    I have found the same thing after getting my 20 pants hemmed to “slight break”. The perfect look is destroyed after several hours sitting and the knee bag makes the pants look “no break”. So like you said, leaving an extra 1” may do the trick

I would like to hear from you