Than you can replace the trouser

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Are you looking for the “skinny” look in your trousers? Do you need to keep your cuffs out of a bicycle chain? Whatever the reason, it’s fairly easy to taper the legs of a pair of trousers or pants.  Here are some pointers.

Steps

  1. Put the pants on “inside out”.

  2. Using pins or tailors chalk, mark the line you would like for your trousers to have.

     A friend can do this for you more easily than you can do it yourself. Just pinch the

    seam

    of the trouser leg down to the size you want and then pin it in place.

    • Be aware that any narrowing of the trouser leg is easiest accomplished at the side seams. Narrowing somewhere besides a seam causes some difficulties, and it’s best to stick with the seams if at all possible.
  3. Test to see if you can take the trouser off once the leg has been tapered.

     If your trouser leg opening is too small to pull your foot through, you may need to add a slit with a

    zipper

    or button closure to the bottom of the leg. Alternatively, you can allow a bit more leg room. Just move the pins out a way and test again.

  4. Take the pants off and, using a seam ripper, undo the stitching in any bottom cuff or hem.

  5. Iron the trouser leg smooth, removing any pleats or creases.

    Use

    starch

    if necessary to help straighten out a “laundered in” cuff.

  6. Using a seam ripper, undo the side seams of the trousers up to the top of your taper area. Make sure you open the seam an inch (2.5cm) extra beyond the needed taper.

  7. Check to be certain that the opened seam lengths match on all seams and on both legs of the trousers.

  8. Re-pin the trouser legs along the desired seam line.

     Sew a

    basting

    seam (longer stitches than usual) along the proposed seam line.  Re-test your fit and your ability to put on and take off the trousers. If the fit is good, then go ahead and re-stitch the line with a shorter

    stitch

    .

  9. Cut off the excess material around half an inch from the seams.

     Use fray-chek or a similar product to prevent

    fraying

    if you’re sewing material that frays easily. Another method of preventing fraying is to

    “zig zag” stitch

    the raw fabric edges, or cover them in

    bias tape

    .

  10. Re-hem the trousers, taking care to keep the length even in both legs. Take care to prevent fraying in the hem seams as well.

  11. Congratulate yourself and wear your new tapered trousers with pride!

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • How do I hem slim leg pants?

    wikiHow Contributor

    If you are tapering your pants slim, first unpick the hem of your pants, iron the pants, draw and pin the tapering line all the way through your pants, and cut away the excess fabric. Once you’ve sewn back your pants you can re-hem them with a neat hem that fits the new tapered cut.

  • How can I narrow bell-bottom jeans?

    wikiHow Contributor

    If the jeans have top-stitched or flat-felled seams, you really can’t unless you are an experienced seamstress. Sometimes one side of the leg will have a regular seam. You can try pinning out some of the flare on that side to see if they will hang straight with only that one side taken in. Otherwise, a tailor or seamstress will need to take the flare out of both sides and recreate the same style of original stitching. It’s easy for an experienced sewer, you just need to weigh the cost and time expenditure vs a new pair of jeans.

  • What kind of needle would I use for the machine, since the jeans I’m trying to taper are made of a thick fabric?

    wikiHow Contributor

    Use an 80/12 size needle as these are specifically designed for denim and other thick fabrics. Often the needles will say denim on the box as well.

  • Can I taper the inside seam only?

    wikiHow Contributor

    You should taper both seams, so that the pants do not look and feel weird.

Unanswered Questions

  • How do I alter pants with wide legs?

  • How do I alter pants that are extra large with an elastic waist band?

  • Can I take up large leg pants from the crotch to the knees?

  • Will the methods in the article work with any type of pants?

  • How do I taper ladies pants that are spandex and polyester?

Show more unanswered questions

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Tips

  • While this can be done by hand, it is faster, easier, and neater to do this with a sewing machine.

Warnings

  • Take appropriate caution when using edged tools and sewing machinery to prevent injury.

Things You’ll Need

  • Sewing machine

  • Scissors

  • Seam Ripper

  • Thread that matches the trouser color

  • Iron and ironing board

  • Starch (optional)

Article Info

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 336,197 times.

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Does sharp, crisp and polished describe your tailored trousers? Are you frustrated with the wrinkles and creases that appear even after spending most of Sunday evening ironing your dress pants ready for the week? Now, get off the phone to your mum as we’ve got you covered with a complete guide filled with expert knowledge of how to iron your trousers providing a professional, sophisticated look to your wardrobe.

Check out more of our expert men’s style guides here.

When it comes to suiting, one of the most important elements of owning one is the constant care and maintenance. While the Blazer usually gets most the attention, It is extremely important to take good care of your suit trousers to provide a stylish, dapper look.

A pair of creased pants will damage your style credibility as most can spot the difference, from a slight crease from the journey to work to a pair that haven’t had the luxury acquaintance of an iron. First impressions are huge in the corporate world so ensure that your rock a sharp, tailored suit as you stride into that interview, first day or meeting with confidence.

Dressing well is a form of good manners.

—Tom Ford, Fashion Designer

How to Iron Trousers

Whether your ironing dress trousers, chinos, jeans or some simple slacks, the principles of ironing remain the same. Firstly, it’s important invest in an iron that is of high quality and can reach temperatures that different fabrics demand. Check that the iron has multiple settings to change the heat temperature as desired as some suiting materials prefer cooler heats than others. A steam feature is also important to truly ensure that those stubborn creases vanish for good.

  • Set up the ironing board to a comfortable height, locking the legs securely in place.
  • Check the fabric of your trousers setting the iron to the correct heat – this information will be found on the care label.
  • Fill the steam compartment and switch the iron settings to the required temperature. If in doubt set to a lower heat to avoid damage to your favourite pair of trousers.
  • Leave to heat. To test safely flick a couple of drops of water onto the metal plate looking out for a sizzle indicating that the iron is hot enough.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Trousers

  • Begin by ironing the pockets. A strange request you may think but if the pockets are creased and you iron over them the amount of wrinkles will increase on the trouser. The easiest way to iron pockets is to pull them inside out and press flat.
  • Next iron the waistband by sliding the trousers over the ironing board. With the pockets pulled out, press the iron firmly down onto the waistband waiting for a few seconds before lifting. Do not move the iron around – just simply press down. If any unwanted creases appear smooth out and iron flat.
  • Lay the leg of the trouser flat on the ironing board and press. If very creased apply the heat on each wrinkle for a few seconds before lifting. Don’t forget to iron both sides of the pant leg.
  • Iron in a crease by laying the pant leg on the ironing board with the inseams directly over each other. Don’t worry there is a more in depth instruction of this to follow.
  • Leave your trousers to cool and don’t forget to switch off the iron.

Watch an in-depth demonstration of how to iron your suit trousers.

Ironing Tips

  • Check your suit trousers for stains as the heat from the iron will set the mark into the fabric permanently. No one wants to see the remainders of your lunch from the previous week – it’s not a good look!
  • Have a spray bottle of water to hand to help shift those stubborn creases. Spraying a gentle mist of water over the trouser leg will certainly help as will spraying a small amount as you gradually iron the complete leg.
  • Depending on the fabric and shade, some trousers will develop and unwanted shine after ironing. A simple way to avoid this is to lay a towel over the trouser ironing the towel rather than the fabric. Make sure you spray the towel before laying over the trouser.

How to Add A Crease

The majority of tailored trousers have a vertical crease down the pant leg providing a very formal, sophisticated feel to the classic garment. When ironing it can become difficult to keep the pants crease with some managing to ironing the crease out all together and others creating a few different lines.

It is important that the crease is precise, exact and sharp, which fills many gents with fear. However, take a look at how to iron dress pants to rest assured that your trousers will remain crisp.

SHOP: Trousers

  • Firstly, group together the four seams of the trouser and flatten the legs so that the natural folds indicate where the creases will be pressed.
  • Lay the trousers on the ironing board with the furthest crease away from you and roll back the top leg just past the centre seam.
  • Ensure that you smooth back the lower leg to be certain that there is no folds of fabric underneath.
  • Place the point of the iron onto the crease starting at the bottom of the trouser working your way up to the top and move the iron in one full movement, using the free hand to make sure the crease remains in place.
  • By working the iron backwards towards the centre seam you will successfully smooth the fabric. Again, the free hand will ensure that no unwanted fabric has creased during this process.
  • Next, roll the top layer back into place, keeping the legs together slide the trousers forward so that the creases closest to you are on the board.
  • Roll the top leg forward to reveal the rear crease smoothing this out to ensure that the bottom leg is flat.
  • Press from the centre seam backwards carefully making sure that the whole leg is flat.
  • Ensuring no rolling has occurred from the underneath leg, finish the crease about 2” from the waistband.
  • Next roll the top leg back in place and carefully grab both legs by the front creases flipping the trousers over so the front crease is now facing you.
  • Now roll back the new top leg, which should be the leg that you have already pressed. Smooth out the bottom leg like you did previously and iron in the creases repeating the process above.

Still confused? Watch how to carefully iron a crease into your suit trousers below.

Trouser Fabrics

When ironing your suit trousers it is important to consider the fabric of the trousers, which can be found on the care label. Various fabrics need different heat temperatures to avoid scorching or ruining the fabric.

Typically, an iron will have markings that will include the various fabrics to help you select the right heat for your trousers. However, if your iron does not include this feature follow our guide below – we can all agree that an iron shaped mark on the trouser leg is not a good look.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Suits, Trousers

Please note that the temperatures are approximate guidelines and should always be tested by putting a cloth between the iron plate and the fabric.

  • Cotton: 180-220 °C = * * * / High Heat
  • Linen/Flax: 215-240 °C = * * * / High
  • Viscose/Rayon: 150-180 °C = * * / Medium
  • Wool: 160-170°C  = * * / Medium
  • Polyester: 140-155°C = * / Low
  • Silk: 140-165 °C = * / Low
  • Blend: When selecting the heat for a blended fabric, always choose the lowest (coolest) heat setting of the two materials to avoid damage.

Can You Iron a Suit?

Unless the suit specifies dry clean only, you can, in fact, iron a suit jacket to finish your sharp, polished look. Follow our steps on how to iron a suit jacket below and get those stubborn wrinkles out of your beloved suit.

  1. Lay the jacket flat on the ironing board to test the heat first on the lining of the jacket. Choose to carry out your test close to hem as if any unwanted marks appear it will be less visible.
  2. Turn the jacket face down onto the ironing board with the front panels hanging at each side. Lightly iron over the back of the jacket remembering to place a cloth under the heat plate and adopt a pressing technique rather than a dragging motion.
  3. Take it in turns to iron the front panels taking great care over the lapel areas, do not squash completely flat.
  4. Use a sleeve arm board to iron the sleeves ensuring not to over press and to avoid a crease down the sleeve arm.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Suits

How To Hang Dress Pants?

Once you have finished your ironing duties and your trousers are ironed to perfection it is important to consider how to hang your trousers to avoid unnecessary creasing. When hanging pants it’s important to ensure that they fall naturally and are not bunched up on the hanger.

Fold your trousers along the natural creases so both slack legs hang flat against each other. Opt for a hanger with clamps or slide over the trouser rod or regular hanger for great results. Take a look on how to hang dress pants properly.

First and foremost, let your clothes rest and revive. Do not wear a suit or shoes two days running. Both cloth and leather need time to breathe. Remember every time you sit down you are ironing a suit in the wrong places.

– Hardy Amies

What is a Trouser Press?

So, you have probably seen them in most hotel rooms and wondered how on earth you would use such a contraption. For those who don’t know, a trouser press is a rectangular device sometimes mounted to the wall and is used to get rid of pants creases in actually a very simple way. Intrigued? Find out more:

  1. Open the trouser press by raising the lever arms.
  2. Place the trousers feet in first.
  3. Smooth into position ensuring that the creases are in line.
  4. Whilst closing the press make sure that you hold the top of your trousers adding a gentle pull.
  5. Push on one of the lever arms to lock.
  6. The trousers will take approximately 15 to 45 minutes to press depending on the model type.

What are Pleats?

If you have a frown forming across your brow as you begin to ponder – what is a pleated pant? Stay tuned – all will become clear.

A pleat is simply a fold of fabric that is secured in place. In relation to trousers, the pleat is situated just under the waist band creating a relaxed, loose fit in comparison to a flat, slimmer style. When ironing, press the top section of the pleat but do not continue with this pressure as it will cause an unwanted crease.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Trousers

Are Pleated Trousers in Style?

Men’s pleated dress pants have seen a revival in recent years with a modern twist. The pant leg is tapered to give a more contemporary, slimline shape to pleated slacks, which prevents you looking like your history teacher from the eighties.

The voluminous, looser fit has been successfully modernised to give an alternative trouser style for fashion conscious gents.

It’s all part of this slouchy movement that’s going on. Things are getting a little looser and easier, and pleated pants fit right in there. We’ve tapered them so they have a modern shape, I think it’s a new element to build upon, a classic element. It’s a great thing to pull into the present and make modern.

– Frank Muytjens, Head of Menswear Design at J.Crew

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Suits, Trousers

Flat Front vs Pleated Trousers

For a long time a skinny fit trouser has been the pant style of choice with many opting for a flat fronted pair of slacks. Many would question are pleated pants out of style with little evidence seen on the catwalk or in high street stores.

However, with the recent surge in pleated khaki pants more men are asking – pleats or no pleats? There is no clear answer as it all depends on style preference and the look you are aiming for. Either choose a slick, slimmer fit or a relaxed style to suit your look or even better, mix it up!

How to Iron Your Trousers Cheat Sheet

  1. Check the fabric label of your trousers setting the iron to the correct heat.
  2. Fill the steam compartment and switch the iron settings to the required temperature.
  3. Begin by ironing the pockets inside out and pressed flat.
  4. Next iron the waistband by sliding the trousers over the ironing board. Do not move the iron around – just simply press down.
  5. Lay the legs of the trouser flat on the ironing board and press.
  6. Leave your trousers to cool and don’t forget to switch off the iron.

On That Note

There you have it a complete guide of how to iron pants including the method, fabric and storage. It is worthwhile to fully understand how to iron slacks to ensure that your crisp, fresh look is intact at all times. Mens cotton pants can crease easily yet investing time into your presentation will ensure that ironing a suit will no longer become your Sunday evening chore.

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Every hotel room in the world appears to have one, at least all those I’ve visited do. They´re mounted on the wall, always just at the edge of your vision, slightly anonymous, yet also mysterious. An odd-looking device, somewhat technological, but also a little furniture-like. The mystery is compounded by the fact that there is never any real indication of it´s purpose, or how to use it, though once you look at it, you realise it is simplicity itself. I´m thinking about the trouser-press.

Example of typical hotel room. Wall mounted Corby trouser press indicated with arrow.

Although I´d occasionally been intrigued, I´d managed to avoid using a trouser press. Though normally technologically curious and not afraid to experiment with new devices, there was something about the trouser press that made me keep my distance. The province of the travelling salesman with a need to freshen the creases in his cheap suit of man made fabric? The fact that is seemed a bit too grown-up for me? Or that putting creases in your trousers just seems a bit off?

This all changed the day I found a Corby 5500 Classic at a local jumble sale. Sleek, teak and meek (ok, upright, really, but meek sounded better) it stood there, amidst an ocean of rubbish and tat. What a strange thing to find! Do people even buy them to use at home? I have no idea, but I had to have it, and it was mine for the princely sum of 8 pounds. Excellent! Though, I realised, now I had to find out how to use it.

A Corby trouser press, this one with bonus hanger for jacket.

And I did. And it really isn´t that difficult! There are 2 controls. One timer to set the heat on and one lever to open and close (two really, as the levers apply force on both sides to ensure even application of pressure). Hardly a challenge for an engineer really. Hah!

The only really tricky part is getting the trousers to lie nice and flat inside the press before closing it. I have very few trousers that have a crease front and back. Possibly only a single pair, and I just remembered that I don´t even have them any longer. What I like to do is to lay the trousers flat, as I´d iron them. I do occasionally iron chinos, as they get washed more often than my other trousers, while denim and wool trousers tend to rest between use. As I´m a careful wearer I rarely get my trousers dirty and can enjoy clothes that don´t need washing too often, which keeps them nice much longer. That resting though, folded thrice, in a stack, that sure does crease them. Not hard creases, but enough to make it noticeable. Iron them? Nope, too much work. This is where the trouser press earns it´s keep. It takes a minute to place the trousers in it, and then 45 minutes later they are crispy, fresh and creaseless. Jeans, corduroy or tweed, it works for all of them.

Nicely pressed Hansen Garments wool trousers. Splendid!

A ceaseless remover of creases, to coin a new slogan for Corby of Windsor, manufacturers of trouser presses to royalty and tired businessmen since 1930. So, even though the trouser press may not be the most glamorous of gentleman´s accessories, and a victim of screwdriver-wielding pranksters, it is actually a genuinely decent device, and I strongly recommend you keep an eye out for one. Or accidentally acquire one when next staying in a hotel. Most likely it will hardly have been used.

Mine was relegated to the washing room in the basement by my otherwise cherubical WellDressedGirlfriend. Little does she know that with a special bracket from Corby, my freestanding Classic can be wall mounted, and will enjoy a prime location in our bedroom again soon. I hope.

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We’ve gotta talk about the length of your pants.

When you’re wearing denim, this might not matter as much since you can always cuff or roll them up.

When you’re wearing trousers, however, that’s a different story. If you just bought a suit or a pair of unhemmed trousers, there’s no way around it… you have to get them tailored.

I went to a wedding last year, and some dude a couple rows ahead of me was too cool (or didn’t have time) to go to a tailor, so he wore his trousers unhemmed.

He spent the whole evening folding them up into his pant leg, and naturally, they unrolled after a few minutes, leaving 7″ of fabric bunching atop his shoes. Not only that, but the suit was too big in general. Tragic scene.

Don’t ever be that guy. Here’s how to figure out the best break for you, and how to tell your tailor.

Too much break

This is generally the style you want to stay away from. Too much break looks sloppy. It’s as if you bought the wrong length for your pants, or that you didn’t know to visit a tailor before wearing them.

How can you tell?

You can characterize too much break by the number of folds in the pant leg where it meets the shoe. More than one? Too much break.

Also, if your heels are stepping on the back of the pants as you walk, and if your trousers have frayed cuffs, your pants are probably too long.

Enough break

This is the traditional length for dress pants, also considered a medium break. If ever you’re unsure about the length, this is the safest route to take. You’ll look clean and polished, and the break is neither sloppy nor trendy. It’s just classic.

How can you tell?

This length is characterized by one fold in the fabric when the cuff is resting on the shoe. Typically the back of the pants cuff hits the middle of the counter, between the opening and the top of the heel.

No break

This style is my personal favorite, as it’s the middle ground between the medium break and flooding. This style looks best with a slim-fitting suit or trousers. No break refers to the cuff barely resting on the shoe, and no fold in the pants fabric.

How can you tell?

A draft down below? Probably. Also, the back of the pants cuffs hit near the top of the shoe, where the opening is.

This style really elongates the legs and makes you appear taller and leaner. It may be an optical illusion, but there ain’t nothin wrong with that.

Keep in mind that not everyone can pull this off. If you finding yourself saying “Oh hell no”, or “No way I’d ever get them that short”, well, then don’t. Stick with medium break.

Also, if you’re a pretty average height, you can probably get away with this hem. If you’re super tall or super short, proceed with caution.

Too little break

Floods, highwaters, etc., are when the pants barely touch the shoe, if at all. This (along with number 3, No Break) has gotten popular again over the past couple years. This style also looks better on slimmer dudes—it all has to do with proportion. I also recommend it if you have some sexy ankles.

How can you tell?

You’re flashing ankle.

A word of caution. Your pants need to be slim if you’re gonna do Too Little Break. If you get a fuller cut trouser or some wide leg pants, it’s just not the same. Don’t do it.

What’s right for me?

Well, what do you like? Are you staying on top of the trends? Are you buying a Thom Browne suit? Then maybe you’d be into the No Break / Too Little Break styles.

If you have to ask yourself this question, I’d stick with #2 (Enough Break). Like I mentioned, it’s the standard length for any trouser. You can experiment with other types of break later.

There ya go! A quick primer on the break of pants. Hope this helps when trying to figure out how to talk to your tailor.

What’s your favorite style? Do you prefer one over the other? Absolutely HATE No Break? Think Enough Break is too conservative? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Also, if this article was at all helpful, please drop your email in the blue green box below for free updates, straight to your inbox!

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