A Guide To Pants

An assortment of jeans, chinos, and slacks on a gray background.

Shopping for pants tends to be a hassle. The ideal pair of pants should be comfortable and flattering, since they are the foundation of your look. The good news is that the options are plentiful, ranging in fits, fabrics, and styles. Pants have always been judged by their utility, durability, and functionality. Through the reinvention of trends, pants are now equally valued for their design. Pants can make or break your outfit so it’s essential to choose the perfect pair. In this guide, I’ll first establish the necessity of a perfect fit, then detail the wide variety of options and how to style them. 

The importance of the fit of pants cannot be overstated. They decide the silhouette of your look and your overall comfort. Generally, body type will dictate the go-to fit. Pants shouldn’t be too tight or too baggy. The pants that are least forgiving are dress pants. Too loose, they’ll offset the entirety of your look, too tight… and they’ll rip. Different fabrics, such as polyester, cotton-spandex, or nylon will provide extra “give” to your pants. Otherwise, the precise sizing of the waist, inseam, and crotch is pivotal. Make sure you know your measurements to ensure you’ll always have the best fit. With jeans and chinos, the fit should be determined by what is most comfortable, so trial and error may be necessary. Slim fits should always be judged by their stretch, while relaxed fits should be judged by how they drape and break. The break is the fold above the cuff of the leg, which is created when the pant inseam is longer than your leg. With slim options, the break is less noticeable due to tapered fits, but perfecting the length of a classic fit can be challenging, so consider folding them or getting them hemmed. For business-appropriate looks, opt for minimal breaks as folding can appear “sloppy,” whereas in casual wear, folds can be written off as a stylistic choice. Follow this link for our guide on how to find your proper measurements.


Multicolored pairs of pants on a white background.



Chinos are a perfect versatile choice for a variety of business and casual looks. They are trousers made from cotton twill materials and are hailed as the best smart casual pants. Their stretch material makes them a great alternative to slacks when you want to be a step below formal. Whether a slim, tapered, or straight fit, these flexible pants combine class with comfort, making them convenient to pair. Dress up your chino by tucking in a color-complementing dress shirt, or pairing it with a well-fitted polo. For a more casual look, consider pairing a khaki chino with a simple white tee and matching white sneakers. Play around with iterations of these color combos, matching the top to the shoes while the chino serves as a base. If you ever look at your wardrobe and feel as if you lack a staple pair of pants, try out some chinos—they make styling seamless.

Vibrant-colored pairs of chinos laid out on an orange background.


A quality pair of jeans is a crucial aspect of each man's closet, as they’re versatile enough to hold a business or casual look. The original and still the most comfortable model is the classic cut. The pants draw perfectly from your waist to your thighs and then follow into a wide, accommodating leg. It’s a perfect addition for men that are neither too slim nor too large (a true goldilocks style). Alternatively, slim fit jeans are solely suited to those with a slimmer physique and who’d like to accent a slender look. Lastly, the slim-straight cut binds the benefits of both into one, providing a comfortable option that tapers in along your leg and then relaxes as it nears the bottom half. Stretch denim has become increasingly popular, as it allows you to wear a more slimming pair of pants without feeling constricted. 

Denim wash is just as influencial as fit. Light wash jeans instantly add an accent to a stylish look, especially when worn with darker tones. They are most appropriate in the warmer months. Dark-washed jeans are subtle and provide an ideal base for a sharp elevated look. The medium wash finds common ground among the others and can be paired with anything from a vibrant pattern or color to simple neutrals. I recommend owning at least one pair in each shade. Gray and black are more fashionable options that will further enhance your wardrobe and match contrasting neutrals best. 


4 pairs of jeans, each of a different wash, on a turquoise background.



Sweatpants and joggers have become a necessary addition to anyone's closet, offering peak levels of comfort and potential for casual styling alternatives. The difference between sweatpants and joggers lies mainly in the fabric and fit. Joggers encapsulated the athleisure trend through their tapered fit and lighter breathable fabrics, such as cotton and polyester. This provides a more polished look, while retaining the expected comfort of loungewear. They’re the perfect option for daily errands and casual outings. On the other hand, sweatpants tend to be made of thicker cottons, fleece, and wool. They are found most often in a relaxed fit, they provide the more iconic image of loungewear. To style either of these options simply opt for more traditional casual items, pairing them to tops that complement their silhouette. If a fit is relaxed, lean on a more form-fitting top to balance the baggy look. Alternatively, for the tapered joggers, consider opting for larger, relaxed tops, so as to define your natural V-shape. Throw a blazer on top for a trendy edge that’s the ultimate intersection of class and comfort. 


Black sweatpants are worn with white sneakers on a white background.







Elliot Russ
Stately stylist, writer, and designer based in Los Angeles, CA