Despite giving the fashion world more than a century of service, dress pants remain very much misunderstood and are almost entirely absent in the wardrobes of young fashion enthusiasts.
These days, young men will wear jeans, chinos, flower shorts, and meggins (which are exactly what they sound like) but refuse to even entertain the idea of incorporating a pair of dress pants into their wear outside of college balls, dinner parties, and other formal events.
The lack of regard for men's dress pants among the younger generation can largely be traced back to the fact that many of them aren’t even entirely sure what they are, which is likely a consequence of the many names past generations have bestowed upon them (a nice pair of slacks, anyone?) So, just what are dress pants? Who manufactures them? What are they made out of? We’re going to be answering all those questions and more in this brief but comprehensive dress pants guide.
Dress pants first entered mainstream men's fashion when suits became widespread in the first half of the 1800s. During this period, they were worn exclusively as part of a suit and were considered out of place and rather lower class when worn without a jacket and tie to compliment them. These days, dress pants are still very much a staple of the three-piece suit, but they have also been integrated into casual wear to the point that it is perfectly acceptable to wear a pair with a short-sleeved shirt.
This is something many aspiring fashionistas fail to understand. They hold the erroneous belief that a pair of dress pants can only be worn as part of a suit as well as the equally erroneous belief that suits are somehow a symbol of capitalism or general “uncoolness”. In reality, however, dress pants are remarkably versatile and have countless applications beyond the confines of an office.
So, let’s say you have decided to purchase a pair of dress pants, what brand is most deserving of your money? Anybody who knows anything about dress pants will advise you against going with a pair from a budget manufacturer. We understand that’s probably not want you want to hear considering dress pants can be pretty expensive, but dress pants that are produced and bought on the cheap are almost always ill-fitting and frustratingly delicate.
Instead, you should expand your budget by $20 or $30 and purchase your dress pants from a reputable label with a history of excellence. Among the most popular manufacturers of dress pants are Michael Kors, BOSS, and Calvin Klein, but there are literally dozens of brands for you to choose from whether you do your shopping online or in-store.
But just what materials do these manufacturers use in the making of their dress pants? There is no one fabric that must be included for a pair of dress pants to be considered such, but most are composed of woven wool or a wool blend. Dress pants designed by and purchased directly from tailors will almost always feature wool as the leading fabric as wool is known to be a great deal more resilient than other fabrics and can be worn for years without losing its shape. Tailors also prefer wool to other materials as it is more widely available and can be purchased for relatively little (which is actually pretty frustrating when you think about how much a quality pair of dress pants will set you back).
Despite being the most popular, wool is not the only material used in the manufacturing of dress pants. Many designers utilize polyester as the primary fabric in their dress pants, often times eliminating wool from the mix altogether.
Both wool and polyester are resistant to water, but polyester dries faster, which means polyester dress pants are preferable to wool dress pants if you frequently find yourself caught in the rain when walking to college or work. While there are dress pants that are 100% polyester, most pairs that use it often only feature it as the base fabric and contain other materials like cotton, viscose, and silk.
While silk generally appears only as a bit player, some brands have dared to use it as the primary fabric in their dress pants, with interesting results. Silk dress pants are certainly more comfortable than their wool and polyester alternatives, but there’s just something about them that doesn’t look quite right.
Perhaps we wouldn’t be saying that if silk dress pants were more widely worn and not so unusual to see, but unless you want the whole room talking about you - and probably not for the right reasons - we suggest you go with a pair of dress pants that are made from wool or polyester or another fabric more commonly used in the manufacturing of men’s trousers.