How Pants Should Fit For Men in 2021

lower half of a man holding a duffle bag and wearing black pants with white sneakers.

This year in particular, it’s understandable if you’re a bit rusty when it comes to how your pants should fit. After all, perhaps you’re out of practice when it comes to putting on and wearing proper pants, not just sweatpants (for instance), especially out in the wild. We’d wager you know your waist size as well as you know your shirt size or even your jacket size, but there are other tips to keep in mind when seeking out and styling the best-fitting pants for your body.

The good news is, there are different types of pants out there to fit multiple body types, with most of them made to be worn in style situations aplenty, from teaming them with a stylish dress shirt to rocking pants with a rugged flannel shirt. Finding pants that fit correctly can take an ensemble from good to great, it can sharpen up an office-ready look even further, it can help you look great on date night, and for all other casual times in between, the best-fitting pants are simply a must these days. We’ve put together some handy tips on how to find flattering, stylish pants for all body types.

Fear not, though: No matter your body type, these tips are applicable across the board if you want to look and feel your best when rocking your new favorite pair of trousers. Start here, and then wear supremely well-fitting pants to your heart’s content now that you’re back out in the world again.

What To Keep in Mind About the Best-Fitting Pants

lower portion of a man wearing beige colored pants with white sneakers.

  • Simple is often better in the world of pants: Whether they’re your best fitting jeans or chinos from one of our favorite brands, like Bonobos. It’s all about finding the fit that works for your body type, but in general, your pants shouldn’t be too baggy, and they shouldn’t be too slim. This differs for everyone, but avoid super-wide leg pants or super-skinny trousers.
  • Proper sizing counts: When shopping for pants, even if you have larger, thicker legs or a more athletic body type, try to stick as closely as possible to your proper waist size, as well as your proper inseam length. The inseam runs from the crotch seam to the bottom of the leg: You can determine your inseam by going to a tailor or even a dry cleaner or alterations specialist and getting this measured, or have someone at home help you out. Use the wrong measurement, and you’ll end up with pants that are too short or too tight. Remember: We’re going for “just right,” not too tight or too baggy. 
  • Different types of pants fit, well, differently: While it’s important to keep your proper sizing in mind when shopping for any pair of pants, keep in mind that dress trousers, often made from wool fabric blends, are going to hang differently than jeans, for instance. Your dress trousers should be cleanly cut, but not as slim as your jeans. Chinos, without the typical creased front leg you’d find on dress trousers, are going to more closely mimic the fit of your jeans. When in doubt, know that straight-leg jeans or chinos look great on most guys, but slimmer cuts tend to flatter taller gentlemen. 

Finding Pants That Fit You

lower half of a man wearing gray trousers, blue socks, and brown shoes with his legs crossed.

  • Shop for your body type: In the world of men’s pants, some serious strides have been made in recent years. Nowadays, retailers from J. Crew to Bonobos stock multiple types of fits in terms of pants, from Slim to Tailored to Straight (and different variations on each). There are also Big-and-Tall brands with extended sizing, and you’ll also find companies like State & Liberty that specifically make athletic-fit men’s trousers. There’s a variety out there for every body type, but again, it always pays off to know your sizing and shop accordingly.
  • Comfort is key: When you find the right fit in a pair of pants, you know. The waistband should be snug, but not overly tight (a good rule of thumb: You should be able to place a finger or two comfortably between your waist and the waistband). The pants shouldn’t be sliding down or off your waist. The inseam should have a relatively clean “break” (look for pants that hit the top of your shoes without bunching up or showing off too much ankle). And the crotch and seat of your pants also shouldn’t be overly tight. The best way to figure out how your pants should fit? A matter of trial and error, and a matter of comfort at times. You should be able to sit and stand comfortably, too. If they feel good, wear ’em.
  • Know your style situations: If you’re looking to stock up on multiple pairs of pants at once, consider how often and in what situations you’ll be wearing said pants. Do you need stretch chinos for the office and business casual outings? Or are you able to pull off jeans at the office and around town on dates or with friends? Keeping your most-used style scenarios top of mind will allow you to plan accordingly when it comes to finding great-fitting men’s pants.

While every pair of pants is different (naturally), when you find pants you love, pants that look great and feel good to wear, our best advice is to stock up (see also: Retailers like Bonobos that stock pants in all colors, fabrics, and fits). It’ll become an easy process the further along the road you go in your style journey.

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