The Fuss-Free Fundamental - Men's Trousers Through the Ages

Occasionally, grandad Cloudsdale would collect my sister and I from school in his midnight blue Ford Cortina. With inbuilt punctuality anxiety after years in the Navy, he’d normally arrive early, park up near the gates, and lean against the passenger door smoking a cigarette. His trousers were always hoisted up towards his chest, button-braces securing pleat-fronted flannel slacks with a front rise higher than Humpty Dumpty’s. Even now, years after his death, I often think about the inimitable way he dressed. Those trousers were the authentic foundation of his post-war wardrobe and the cornerstone to every outfit, a look which was probably mirrored across the UK by many men of his generation.

The domestication of horses is apparently how our relationship with trousers began. Men and women had been flouncing around in glorified sarongs until sometime between 3500 and 3000 BC, when some bright spark in Asia realised that skirts weren’t the ideal equestrian get-up. The ancient Greeks and Romans weren’t convinced, and associated the wearing of these new fangled leg coverings with savagery, labelling anyone wearing them as barbarians. It wasn’t until the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 8th century that public opinion shifted - allowing hoards of toothless, unwashed Europeans to liberate themselves and jettison their scratchy woollen tunics in favour of this revolutionary garment.

Things have changed a lot since those days. We had the Regency-era trailblazer Beau Brummell polishing his shoes with champagne in the 1880s and educating the sartorially ignorant about the importance of simplicity and good tailoring. He championed the fashion for long, loose trousers and flat boots, which allowed men more physical freedom, in sharp contrast to the fuss and flamboyance of previous decades. Brummell’s influence was hugely significant, and aside from a few blips in the 1970s (bell bottoms) and 2000s (the dreaded skinny jean), his theory about the need for well-cut slacks is thankfully coming back into favour.

There’s something so dignified about a man in decent trousers with well executed pockets - nobody wants to see the outline of your iPhone as it jostles for pole position next to your crotch. Finding the ideal leg shape and rise measurement needn’t be traumatic. The perfect balance sits somewhere between the hip and natural waist, with a slightly wider leg width, shaped for a softer, relaxed, sportier silhouette. With just the right amount of volume and structure, AW17’s Bridges Pant elongates the leg, pairing precision-cut details with long-established, classic tailoring techniques. Fundamentally functional for fuss-free dressing.

Leanne Cloudsdale 

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