Reader question: Side straps and chinos
5 September 2012
I have a couple of questions on trousers which I haven’t seen you address. First, you said in a post a while ago that side straps should be positioned on the waistband seam, not the waistband itself, to make it more comfortable and add an extra inch to the rise. But on my suit trousers made by Graham Browne the straps sit on the waistband. If you say they are better that way then why are the tailors not making them up like this? And how does it make it more comfortable to wear?
I would also like to extend my trouser selection and was thinking of chinos, something you mentioned recently in a post, saying that a cream and faun and olive green are best to go for. What is the best weight cloth, as I would like to have these made by Graham Browne if they do them? The idea behind these is to have some weekend trousers that are not too formal but that I can wear with light jackets, cardigans, heavier jackets both in the summer and the winter. Further, is cotton and gabardine (like that lovely gabardine suit you had made at Choppin and Lodge) the same thing and if these are made up by Russell would they be machine washable?
You’ve certainly been thinking this through. Hopefully your questions should be quite easy to answer though.
First, the side straps. Having them on the waistband, the seam or even below the band is largely a personal preference. All my Anderson & Sheppard suits, for example, have the strap on the seam and this is where I first encountered it. But others from Henry Poole, Cifonelli and Timothy Everest have them on the waistband, so Graham Browne is not alone. Most will change the position if you request it.
Although I do find it slightly more comfortable, the biggest reason to have it on the seam, for me, is the extra rise. I dislike wearing trousers on my natural waist, but I am painfully aware of its advantages in terms of hiding shirt cloth below the buttoning point of a jacket, and hiding the same when wearing a waistcoat. This strap position does not solve the problem, but does add about an inch of coverage.
On chinos, I would go ready to wear, to be honest. I have had chino-type trousers made by half a dozen tailors and not really liked any of them. The cloths and make mean they are never as casual as you envision. It’s painful to have to sort through all the different fits, but it’s worth it. My favourite is Incotex (regular leg style – it has a higher rise). Unfortunately the new Slowear store on South Molton Street in London only stocks slim and skinny fits, but Trunk normally has a decent selection of regulars.
By all means have smarter trousers made by a tailor. I would recommend corduroy, moleskin, (wool) gabardine and even a heavy drill cotton. Cotton gabardine, which was what the Choppin & Lodge suit was made from, I don’t think works as well as an odd trouser. And no, do not mashine-wash them.