Waisting Away

Words by: Stephen Pulvirent

waist-jcrew-tuxOne of the seemingly contradictory facets of what we like to think of as “classic” or “timeless” style is that it is, like everything after all, subject to the whims of fashion. Yes, yes, most devotees of Men’s Flair and similar outlets are not waltzing around in the latest “it color” and reinventing their wardrobe twice a year, but certain things do change over time. The most significant of these is cut.

Dinner-plate sized lapels seemed perfectly at home during the seventies, but as I know from a few regrettable vintage purchases, tend to look dated now. And the razor-slim lapels making a comeback as we speak will, no doubt, look foolish on charity-shop racks in 20 years. For me though, the current trend towards slim, low-rise, &c. brings with it a whole host of concerns for the classically-minded gent. I’m a short, slim guy, so it’s not as if I simply can’t fit into these clothes. Any time a brand wants to make smaller sizes for off the rack clothes it is a cause for celebration in my world, but smaller sizes and scanter proportions are not one and the same.

The low-rise trouser poses a panoply of significant problems. The image above illustrates this perfectly. No offense to J Crew (who I think are doing amazing things to popularize and disseminate high-quality, stylish goods amongst American men), but that tux is not what I would call clean and elegant. That dreaded white triangle kills me. You see it – the one between jacket and trousers that pulls the eye about as far from the face as it can go.

Maybe this is just a personal idiosyncrasy, I’ve been known to have them, but the meeting between shirt and trouser is the least elegant part of men’s dressing. No matter how precisely your shirt and trousers are cut, no matter whether bespoke, made to measure, or off the rack, this border is almost always unsightly and a mess. Add the low rise trouser to the mix, and you’re sure to get some blousing of the shirt, and eventually you might as well be wearing pyjamas.  In this case, a simply cummerbund would fix the triangle problem, but that is really only a sartorial band-aid. A jacket cut to the proper length, and trousers not cut like hipster jeans would be a far-more-preferable solution.

Tucking in a shirt in fact requires slightly higher trousers to function properly. I’m not suggesting everyone need wear navel-grazing pants, but if you can’t fit a full-tailed shirt into the seat, your trousers are probably too low-rise. Trousers are all about long, clean lines, and making your lap look like a wave-pool isn’t doing anyone favors, even before your shirt comes out like a tsunami.

My vitriol might be a bit more than is called for in this situation, but gentlemen, pull your pants up.