Suit pant breaks (how your pant legs meet your dress shoes and the kind of shapes that form) are mainly a matter of personal preference.
That being said, the wrong dress pants break won’t flatter your body type, might not make the statement you think it does, and may not be appropriate for the environment or occasion. The biggest mistake is failing to make an intentional choice. If dress pant breaks are tripping you up, here’s what you need to know.
What is The Pant Break?
The “break” of the pant is the fold or creasing of fabric that forms at the front of your pant leg, just above where it meets your shoe, while you’re standing. An easier way to think about it is that the pant break is the point where the suit pants break its silhouette against the shoe. Note that the break is defined at the standing position and not while you’re walking, seated or doing squats.
The cut of your suit pants, both the length and width (the circumference) of your pant legs, affect how generous or slight your pant break will be.
Generally speaking, longer pants = more break. While that one’s a no brainer, wider pants = less break. That’s because the wider the circumference of your leg opening, the harder it will be for the pant fabric to make contact with your dress shoes, and so your break will be less defined. Slimmer leg openings, on the other hand, will hit your shoes earlier, which means they will form a break at a higher point and more readily.
All this is to remind you that if you like wearing slimmer pants, the pant legs may need to be a bit shorter to accommodate your preferred break. More on that below.
No Break Pants
Pants with no breaks work best with pants that are slim and tapered so that the pant opening isn’t too wide. You won’t want to walk and have wide leg openings sashaying back and forth as you stride.
- Pant hem just reaches but does not rest on the top of the dress shoe
- Better with slim, tapered pants
- The modern look that gives off a youthful trendy vibe
- Easier to pull off for slimmer and/or taller gents
Half Break Pants
Given its versatility, the half break look can work with both slimmer pants and those that are less tapered and more straight leg. Men who are shorter will benefit in particular from a combination of a slimmer fit and the slightly longer length, which can help create an elongating visual effect.
Get the fit right on the rest of the pants (we always suggest bespoke) and a half break will look clean, polished and classically well-dressed on just about everyone.
- Pant hem makes solid contact with the front of the shoe and forms a slightly visible wrinkle
- Works with slimmer and straight leg pants
- A versatile option that works in any context
- Works for men of any build or height but particularly effective for shorter gents
Full Break Pants
In addition, with the longer pant length involved and the fact that this look is most often paired with a less tapered pant leg, this look will often be the best option for men who are heavier set.
- Pant hem forms a single, generous but elegant wrinkle above where it meets the shoe, often covering most of the shoelaces
- Found on straight-leg, less tapered pants
- The most conservative choice that is always office-appropriate
- Works particularly well for heavier-set gents