You’re trying to find a pair of dress pants, but you aren’t sure how long they should be. Unfortunately, there’s more to dress pants length than just measuring the length of your legs. In fact, the length of your dress pants can vary depending on the style you want to evoke and the kinds of pants you want to wear. Today, let's break down how long dress pants should be by exploring the concept of a "pant break." Once you grasp this, you’ll know how long you want your next pair to be.
Pant Break Explained
Put simply, pant break is the fold of your dress pants fabric that you can see at the bottom of the pant leg when it rests over your dress shoes. This isn’t where the dress pants touch your shoes, however – it’s where the dress pants stop being a clean, straight line from top to bottom. Think of a pant break as where the trouser drape “breaks” over your shoes. Here is a perfect example:
Things get a little tricky because dress pants breaks and lengths can vary heavily from person to person and from style to style. The break for your trouser fit is all about personal preference. Here’s how to decide on what length is perfect for your trousers.
4 Pant Break Styles for Men
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the four classic pant break styles. You can choose from these pant break styles when selecting, purchasing, or tailoring your favorite pair of dress pants for an upcoming social occasion or work outfit.
#1 Full Break
A full break occurs when a significant amount of fabric pools around the tops of your shoes/the fold at the ankle. Full-break dress trousers usually have wide-leg opening widths. You’ll most likely find full-break dress trousers in the old-fashioned, classical style. Full-break dress trousers have their lengths reach significantly beyond the wearer’s ankles, typically to about midway behind the back of the dress shoes. The leg opening should also fit around the shoelaces. Choose this break style if you prefer an old-school approach to your dress pants and their overall aesthetic.
Note that you can always roll up your dress pants legs a bit with the full break style if they are a little too long for comfort. You can see this in action with our Stretch Black and White Houndstooth Check Pleated Regular Rise Pants.
#2 Half Break
The half-break style is a little more modern compared to the full-break style, so it’s perfect for slim-fit dress trousers, workplace outfits, and modern weddings or other social events. Half-break dress trousers are characterized by a little bit of fabric pooling near the tops of dress shoes. However, there shouldn’t be any dress socks exposed by this length. Trouser lengths usually end around the middle to the upper parts of the backs of the dress shoes. Notably, half-break dress trousers have slight bends in the fabric near the fronts of their leg bottoms.
Generally, half-break trousers have their leg opening widths cut to a relatively slim size, making them appear a little sleeker and better for modern business environments. Berle’s Super 100’s Gabardine Flat Front Dress Pants are a perfect example of this style in action.
#3 No Break
No break dress trousers, as their name suggests, don’t have any break in their straight lines. Their lengths usually stop just at the tops of dress shoes, barely touching any laces and barely touching the tops of the backs of the shoes. With no break dress pants, you'll still see a small amount of your ankle or sock when you stand up straight. This is one of the most modern dress pants looks and lengths you can select, so it's a great go-to choice if you aren't sure about your personal aesthetic preferences yet. It's also an excellent option for basic, workplace-appropriate attire.
#4 Negative Break
Then there's the negative break style, also called the showing ankle style. This is a bolder fashion statement that features a short inseam length that shows a significant amount of ankle or your dress socks. With the negative break style, the dress pants' leg openings should hit above the backs of your shoes without touching them. It's a trendy, young-man style perfect for less formal environments, like semi-formal weddings.
Get the Tailored Look at Berle
As you can see, your dress pants can be anywhere from as long as your heels to just above the tops of your dress shoes. The actual inches, of course, can vary depending on the length of your legs. In any case, a skilled tailor can help you wear your chosen dress pants perfectly and maximize your aesthetic impact. In addition to considering the length of your pants, the rise is also an important factor to consider. Depending on your body type, you may do well shopping one of the following collections at Berle:
- Long Rise – for taller than average men or those with a longer torso
- Short Rise – for shorter than average men
- Big & Tall – for taller men and men with waist sizes 50 through 60
- Regular Rise – what most men wear
Don’t know your rise? View our Rise Descriptions for more information! Or, if you’re ready to get shopping, explore our Tailored and Casual Collections today.