Dressing for Success: How to Choose the Best Pants for Men

A man’s wardrobe isn’t complete without a solid selection of well-fitting, versatile pants. With the right jeans, dress pants, shorts, joggers and other bottoms, you’re equipped for everything from casual weekends, to workdays at the office, to relaxing at home.

Finding pants that check off style, comfort and functionality can be challenging though with the wide range available today. Do you go slim or relaxed fit? What rise provides the best coverage and mobility? From denim to khakis, how do you even know where to start?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll overview the most popular men’s pants styles, fit and sizing considerations, fabric and feature options, pairing the right pants to occasions, care tips and frequently asked questions. Let’s figure out how to find your perfect pair!

Most Popular Men’s Pants Styles

Here is a breakdown of the major categories of men’s pants along with their common uses:


The number one go-to of men’s wardrobes. These versatile cotton twill pants come in washes ranging from dark indigos to faded blues and black. Cuts include slim, relaxed, skinny, bootcut and more. Pairs great with tees and button-downs.

Dress Pants

Encompasses tailored pants like slacks, khakis, and chinos meant for business, formal and professional settings. Typically made of cotton, wool, polyester or microfiber. Must-haves for assembling suits.


Athletic pants made with stretchy, sweat-wicking fabrics to provide ease of movement and performance during exercise. Includes warm-up pants, track pants, and running tights. Worn to the gym or for sports.


Any short pants with above the knee lengths appropriate for casual warm weather activities. Made of lightweight fabrics like cotton or polyester. Cargo shorts feature ample storage pockets.


Classic long cotton pants with a soft interior and elastic anklets make these optimal for relaxation, lounging, and casualwear. The go-to leisure pants.

Evaluate your lifestyle and wardrobe needs when deciding which pant styles make sense for your daily activities, career and casual downtime. Time to find your perfect pair!

Finding the Right Fit for Men’s Pants

An essential factor when purchasing pants is dialing in the right size and fit for both comfort and visual appeal:

  • Take measurements – Use a cloth tape to accurately measure your waist size at navel level along with full inseam length from crotch to ankle.
  • Consider fit – Determine whether you prefer pants with a close slim fit, relaxed straighter cut or perhaps athletic baggy fit depending on your build and style preferences.
  • Size up gradually – Try sizing up or down and test different fits like “slim”, “athletic”, or “big and tall” to land on your ideal match. Waist size should allow comfortable closure without gapping in back.
  • Check rise – The rise or length between the crotch and waist contributes to coverage and comfort. Lower rises give a modern look while higher rises offer more classic modest coverage.
  • Evaluate cut – Cuts like skinny, bootcut and tapered change the fit through the hips and legs. Make sure you can move freely.
  • Try in store – Always try pants on in person, walk around, sit down, bend over – ensure you have unrestricted mobility throughout the range of motion.
  • Account for shrinkage – Pre-wash and account for typical 5-10% shrinkage, leaving a bit of room in waists. You want pants to fit well now and after laundering.

With some trial and error, you’ll discover your ideal pant waist size, rise, cut and brand that ticks off the fit, mobility and appearance trifecta.

Fabrics and Features for Men’s Pants

Once fit is dialed in, consider these factors when evaluating pant fabrics and features:


The classic cotton twill fabric makes jeans lightweight yet durable. Look for comfortable flexible denim blends with stretch like elastane added.


A dress pant staple thanks to its moisture wicking properties, shape retention and wrinkle resistance. Merino wool is exceptionally soft. Can be blended with synthetics for stretched and stain-treated wools.


Known for its breathability, cotton is comfortable for casual and active pants alike. Features like pre-washing and wrinkle-free treatments enhance easy care.

Athletic Fabrics

Stretchy, sweat-wicking synthetics like polyester, nylon and spandex allow freedom of motion and drying for sporty pants. Prevent clinging when sweaty.


Special coatings repel oil and water-based stains on pants like dress khakis for spill protection. Useful for messy eaters!


Cuts down on ironing by preventing wrinkles through fabric finishings. Makes synthetics and cottons easier to maintain.


For work or outdoor pursuits, waterproof coated nylon provides heavy weather and element protection while blocking wind. Breathable versions add ventilation.

Reinforced Seams

Internal taping and extra stitching along seams makes pants more rugged and resistant to splits or fraying at stress points.Boosts longevity.

Security Pockets

Zippered or hidden internal pockets safely stash wallets, phones and other valuables discreetly when on the go. No more worrying about pick pockets!

Experiment with technical fabrics and functional features that align with your priorities – stretch for comfort, waterproofing for hiking, reinforced knees for tough work.

Matching Men’s Pants to the Occasion

Picking the right pants comes down to suiting them for the occasion. Follow these basic guidelines:

  • Dark denim – A neat dark wash jean pairs with tees, casual button-downs or blazers for nearly any casual occasion from BBQs to nights out. The kings of versatility!
  • Khaki chinos – With classic neutral tones, flat front chinos transition seamlessly from office work days to weekend date nights when paired with the right tops.
  • Dress slacks – Made from formal fabrics like wool with tailored front creases, dress slacks mean business for important events and client meetings.
  • Cargo pants/shorts – Utilitarian pockets make these pants perfect for hiking, camping, and days on the go when you need to carry extra items. Rugged and practical.
  • Joggers – Nothing beats joggers and sweatpants for pure relaxation at home with their elastic anklets and soft cotton fabric. The ideal lazy day attire.

Use the occasion as your guide when getting dressed to reach for the jeans, khakis, joggers or dress pants that align with the activities of your day.

Frequently Asked Questions About Men’s Pants

Here are answers to some of the most common pants questions guys have:

How many pairs of pants should a man own?
Aim to have at least 5-7 pairs including 2 jeans, 2 casual pants, 2 dress pants, and optional workout/lounge pants for versatility.

What is the difference between chinos vs khakis?
Originally two names for the same off-white casual cotton pants, today chinos refer to more modern, colored flat-front pants while khakis describe classic pleated and belted tan pants.

How do you find the right jeans size?
Measure your waist size at navel level. Rise should hit near belly button. Inseam length should reflect your height with only slight stacking. Loosely fitted through seat and thighs with gentle taper looks most flattering.

What shoes pair best with chino pants?
Chinos pair well with simple leather shoes like loafers or lace-ups for smart casual style. White sneakers add a streetwear vibe. Boots work too for cooler weather. Avoid flashy athletic shoes.

How often should men’s pants be washed?
Jeans can go several months between washes, but dress slacks and activewear should be laundered after a few wears. Spot clean where possible between washes. Wash in cold water, dry low heat.

How can you make dress pants more comfortable?
Look for stretch fabrics with spandex or elastic waistbands. Bootcut and pleated styles are roomier. Suspenders distribute waist pressure. Increase waist size a bit for room.

What is the most versatile type of men’s pants?
A solid pair of dark wash straight or slim cut jeans easily dresses up with a blazer or wears ultra-casual with a tee. The classic denim color and fitted silhouette works for many occasions.

Find Your Ideal Pair of Pants

I hope this guide has helped provide a comprehensive overview of finding, selecting and caring for the best pants for men. Follow these key tips:

  • Take accurate measurements of your waist, inseam length and consider ideal fit
  • Choose fabric, features and styles that align with your needs – stretch, wrinkle-resistance, weather protection etc.
  • Match pants styles to the occasion – denim for casual, khakis for smart casual, slacks for formal
  • Always test pants on with movement to ensure comfort and mobility
  • Care for pants properly – wash when needed based on fabric, air dry, spot clean

Having a quality rotation of tailored, well-fitting pants suitable for work, play and everything in between makes getting dressed easy. Invest wisely in men’s pants that meet your lifestyle needs and display your unique sense of style.

The right pants act as a solid foundation to any great look. Whether you’re stepping into an important meeting or stepping out for weekend fun, you’ll be dressed for any occasion thanks to pants suited perfectly for you.

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