A Few Good Trousers

Okay I know that the photo above shows a jacket sleeve that’s too long (that’s what happens when you have functional sleeves Drake’s ugh) and only shows one trouser despite the clearly plural title, but bear with me.

I haven’t written about a specific item in a while. And so here it is, a post on the pants I’ve been wearing a lot of lately.

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I just want this look all the time.

It’s tough having a such specific taste, especially when it comes to tailored trousers. While I’ve started to get by with RTW jackets from Ring or MTM from Atelier Fugue, it is trousers that have always caused me strife. It’s not even about all the bells and whistles like dropped loops or even cloth choice- it’s almost always about the cut and silhouette.

You would assume that my preference for wide fits and a high waist would be easy to do custom (more so the former rather than the latter), but that hasn’t always been the case. In my experience, MTM brands focus more on fit algorithms rather than finished garment measurements. Granted, this is because most guys want something that “fits” their body, which in most cases means something slim fit. Algorithms can’t make something wide unless the measured body is also “wide”. All this to say that “gaming the algorithm” for a wide fit is a bit of a crap shoot. I’ve done it to varying success before, but the anxiety over the finished product and the money spent in post-tailoring was always a disappointment to me. It’s a major reason why custom is still something I haven’t gone full force into.

Now there is nothing wrong with my current trouser rotation, but I know that someday they will need replacing. A few of them are vintage and great! Most, however, are not the perfect ideal, but they serve me well…for now. Since my POV of menswear is very intentional, its my goal to have a wardrobe that is exactly what I want, not in terms of formality but in aesthetic. There is no room for defaulting. I had already done a lot of work going through exactly what I wanted from trousers! There also isn’t room to constantly scour eBay for trousers! Let’s not forget that a majority of vintage trousers (or clothes in general) tend to be fall or winter weight; such things are not appropriate for an LA native. With Polo RL prices climbing with the global 90s resurgence (and menswear merger), it almost makes more sense to simply commission something you want- if I could only get over the anxiety.

As I wrote in that custom essay, I am completely aware of the multitude of MTM trouser brands across the #menswear space. Plenty of my friends have tried them. However, none of them have the specific tastes I do- they don’t want super wide legs, generous pleats, and a high rise. My other problem was that I already own plenty of trousers. Spending $300+ just to try a new algorithm (in a cloth I haven’t handled in person) isn’t worth the anxiety. Yes, I know that some of them (like Luxire) allow you to input finished garment measurements. They even let you send them a pair of your favorite trousers to replicate. However, I still wasn’t sold on their process nor did I potentially want to lose something I love. Even my Hertling pants were eventually given away due to the odd stuff I did while gaming their MTO process (which resulted in rise and thigh issues that weren’t fixable by my tailor).

Without someone to talk through my anxieties and preferences, it seemed like I was destined for the fateful day that my career allowed me the spendable income to acquire bespoke, where multiple fittings (and a good fitter/cutter/salesman) alleviate most headaches. Thankfully, I was able to stave that off for a bit with my current fix.

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You can see some excess fabric still in the outer thigh. It was worse before!

Some of you may have noticed my latest favorite suit: the navy DB. Keen readers will know that I used to have an Indochino DB, which I ended up giving to a friend since the trousers (done by gaming the algorithm) were still too tapered for my taste; I just didn’t like wearing it anymore. I ended up getting a 1940’s flannel DB which was great, but being flannel (and structured) meant that I didn’t always gravitate toward it. I eventually saved my money and ordered a suit from Hall Madden, a MTM brand with a shop on the West Side (a big drive for me).

The suit, as you have probably seen on my IG and blog a few times by now, is great, but it wasn’t always that way. I’m referring to the trousers, which I also alluded to at the top. Hall Madden works as a body measurement algorithm, which creates the garments. Adjustments are made to the finished garment pattern in increments of centimeters. This produced a wonderful jacket…and a rough pair of pants. To create the wide fit and high rise I wanted, we definitely tried to game their algorithm. The trousers were too big everywhere other than the rise. They suggested that I take it to my own tailor to fix, which certainly took a few trips to get exactly right. Even now, there is just a few remaining issues that unfortunately are inherent to the pattern. I still love wearing the suit though!

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Some slight bagging on the thigh, below the pocket area.

At first I was quite disappointed- I loved the jacket, but the trousers were such a headache. How was I going to get the full suit I wanted? Luckily the owners (Richard Hall & McGregor Madden) as well as Kiyoshi (patreon of the pod and one of my pals who comes on stream) had a solution.

Under their Hall Madden umbrella, they own Lords of Wool. LOW is a very basic MTM service that was meant to be barebones. Fortunately for me, barebones meant finished garment measurements. They used the LOW factory to create quick, basic fitting suits for guys who were unfussy and didn’t need a full body algorithm. They told me that I could use this system to create a custom pair of pants by measuring my favorite pair. I was obviously skeptical, as I had seen this method before, but this time I was communicating with the guys who knew the factory well. More specifically, I would be working with Kiyoshi (who is a bit more #menswear than the owners), to create these pants. There was still anxiety, but less so.

So I got to work measuring. The measurements were basic, taken flat. The trousers of choice were the 1940’s grey gabardine ones that are pretty much exactly what I want out of a trouser- though I’d do side tabs instead of dropped loops and slanted pockets instead of on-seam ones (ew). I also took photos of me wearing them, which Kiyoshi used in his conversations with the factory. For extra security, I mailed Kiyoshi so he could measure them himself at the Hall Madden Chicago location. We cross referenced each others measurements, did a Facetime call, and decided we had what we needed to create these trousers. I opted for a simple light grey tropical-ish wool from their LOW book (which was all basic worsted and twills) and placed my order by entering the measurements and the fabric code on their site. It was $165 for their house fabrics, which wasn’t bad at all!

The result was pretty fantastic- no post tailoring needed. Everyone at Hall Madden said they looked huge, but to me it was a different type of huge. They were wide. They were great. Clean lines and drape was achieved. The fly was long, which is always a fear of mine when ordering high rise trousers.

The photos really speak for themselves!

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Clean!
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Not sure what’s up with my knee, but still good!
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Long zipper/fly too.
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I was so enamored that I bought two more pairs: a navy and brown in a slightly heavier wool twill. No adjustments to the pattern at all. I would’ve preferred worsted, but for that $165 house cloth price, I had my confines- the price of being cheap. There was always the option to try a different book, but I was concerned; I also didn’t feel like I was ready to buy a pair of Crispaire odd trousers just yet.

So the navy and brown trousers came in and by golly, I love them. In fact, I’ve worn them much more than the grey pair!

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I could do with reducing the thigh!
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Below they knee they are solid.
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These are the brown ones.

In closing, it seems that I’ve finally found my place for trousers. It’s so empowering to finally have trousers that fill that aesthetic hole I’ve had. I want all my pieces to fit my POV, not just the handful of vintage I’ve been luckily enough to find.

The $165 price tag isn’t bad, though I think it might be time for me to try some other books and invest in other fabrics. I’m even working on adjusting the pattern; I just ordered a pair of mid grey trousers and made the thigh just 2CM slimmer, just to make the leg more straight. Adjusting proportions is important, though I’ll get more on that topic in the future. The ultimate move would be to commission a full suit with Hall Madden, with their main factory doing the jacket and the LOW factory doing the pants. That might be the way to go for all my custom tailoring.

I’m finally home (I hope). I guess I’ll let you guys know how future stuff goes!

NOTE: As I was writing this, Kiyoshi told me that he is down to help others create their own custom pairs of pants! The link (this is not an affiliate link) I used for my order should show the process (as well as where you enter the measurements), though he recommends contacting him to make sure it is done right. If you have time, you can even mail him the trousers for him to measure. After all, communication, plenty of photos, and cross referencing measurements was how we were able to make it work!

Obviously its best if you have a pair of trousers to replicate instead of trying to create trousers through finished measurements. For example, I got a high rise because my trousers inherently have a high rise- if you try to game this algorithm, your results may not be great.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget that you can support me (or the podcast) on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. I also stream on Twitch and upload the highlights to Youtube.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan M. Wong

Big thank you to the podcast’s top tier Patrons (the SaDCast Fanatics): Austin, Philip, Audrey, Shane, Jarek, and James.

3 comments

  1. Haobo Ma · December 12

    Always disappointed with trousers i bought, i have o shaped legs and my trousers seem to magnify that, they’re not clean and neat when wearing and there are always some weird creases. As a college student I’m to poor to afford MTM.

    Like

  2. Pingback: How I Think About Proportions & Silhouette | a little bit of rest
  3. qin · 2 Days Ago

    A pair of high or mid waist, single or double pleated, cuffed hem, roomy leg with heavy weight material like wool flannel, will always be awesome!

    Like

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