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4 Essential Trousers for the Summer

When we think of tailoring, the suit is usually what first comes to mind. In fact, the suit is so synonymous with tailoring in the popular lexicon that even if you’re wearing a blazer with odd pants, you’ll almost certainly be told “nice suit.” Of course we know better, and if you follow my posts on Styleforum or my personal blog, you’ll know that I rarely wear suits. My personal preference is for tailored odd jackets and trousers. I love suits and absolutely would wear them every single day if my job or other circumstances necessitated it. As it is, however, I have flexibility in what I wear for work, and I like the versatility of odd jackets.

But in practice, I’m pretty repetitive with my jacket-trouser combination choices. In the warm months, the choices differ from the cold months, but the principle is the same: I basically rotate the same 3-4 pairs of pants with basically every jacket I own.

In that light, here are the four pairs of trousers I find easiest to pair with my tailored jackets in the summer:

1—Mid-Gray trousers in some form of lightweight, breathable wool

Photo: @sebastianmcfox

My personal preference for this category is fresco, because it keeps its shape and is so hard-wearing (which is a boon for trousers). Fresco is a trademarked name for a specific weave developed by Minnis, but many different mills have developed their own version of the cloth. It stays cool by being open-weave, but it keeps its shape by having tightly-woven yarns. There are other weaves, of course. I owned a pair of gray summer weight hopsack trousers once, which also wore fairly cool. But I ultimately did not like how they draped on me—too loosey goosey. Tropical wool is kind of a catch-all term that means lightweight wool meant to be worn in the warmer months. I say: stick with Fresco if you’re unable to examine the cloth in real life to know if you’ll like it.

Spier & Mackay 1 • Brooks Brothers • Suitsupply • Suitsupply 2


2—Off-white trousers in whatever fabric you like

Photo: @sebastianmcfox

I personally go for cotton-linen blend trousers in off-white for summer, because I can wash them. But off-white wool trousers work, too, but I have a personal aversion to them. I have this very specific memory of a used car salesman who had a very 1970s vibe wearing some (honestly they were probably polyester) with a yellow shirt, selling my parents a 1989 Mercury Sable that turned out to be an absolute lemon of a car. That, and I am too cheap to dry clean unless I absolutely have to. But I fully endorse off-white trousers in whatever fabric floats your boat. They literally go with everything (tan jackets, tobacco/cigar jackets, dark brown jackets, navy jackets, green jackets, the list goes on).

Drake’s in stone • Polo linen-blend • Spier & Mackay cotton-linen

Spier & Mackay cotton stretch • Brooks Brothers cotton-linen • Ring Jacket


3—Warm khaki cotton chinos

Photo: @sebastianmcfox

Go toward dressier versions that hold a crease and have either an unfinished seam or a finely finished seam, and you’ll look better for the office. Broken-in, more rugged chinos also can work well with a tailored jacket but will look out of place if you’re trying to dress them up more. For instance, I wouldn’t wear polished calf leather shoes with broken-in chinos, nor would I wear a tie. But with a creased pair of chinos, I’d wear both no problem. I personally think the warmer khaki tones are the most attractive—British khaki, copper, caramel, whatever the retailer you find them at calls them. I prefer its warmth over standard khaki, which is a dustier, more faded tan. That has its place, too, of course (I personally think it works best in the broken-in configuration, worn with a beaten-up OCBD or navy polo shirt).

Brooks Brothers dressier •  Brooks Brothers casual •  Unis • J.Crew


4—Dark or slightly faded-looking denim

Photo: @sebastianmcfox

Dark jeans have ruled menswear for a decade or more, and I’m pretty sure there are more selvedge denim companies than there are Styleforum members. There’s a good reason for that: they are more flattering on more body types than faded jeans and worn out at night they look dressy enough to make an outfit feel put together. The lighter you go, the closer you get to the dad-jean territory, or rancher territory, or miner territory, or menswear blogger territory. So I say, stick with dark rinses or just ever-so-subtly faded denim and you can’t go wrong. In the height of summer, depending on where you live, they might be too hot to wear—but in those situations, wearing a tailored jacket might not make much sense, either.

RRL jeans • Drake’s • Mr. Porter denim • Anglo-Italian

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ken Sheffer

    August 9, 2018

    I note with some interest the tendency for your models to wear their trousers so short as to show a significant amount of sock or ankle. It always looks, to me, as if they hadn’t quite finished growing when they acquired the trousers and insisted on wearing them anyway. A bit tacky, I think!

  2. Reply

    Raleigh Johnson

    August 11, 2018

    Amen! Ken, the “too short pants” style had it’s hay-day in the 1960’s when hippie’s, country bumpkins and the flower children introduced the world to the Utopian society and later exchanged it for corporate jobs, Botany 500 suits and crony capitalism.
    I seriously doubt that the clothing manufacturers who produced the “too short pants” style passed on the savings in fabric (not used) to the buyers.
    Perhaps, what is even worst is wearing “too short pants” and dress shoes without socks. My cultural generation considered that display down right nasty and bordered on indecent exposure…LOL

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