The Right Pair of Trousers

By Simon Crompton

Jul 13, 2022

The Right Pair of Trousers

Permanent Style's Simon Crompton talks trousers with us - which ones to invest in, how to wear them and what to pair them with.

How lovely it is to have a well-fitted, versatile trouser. Something that goes with jackets as well as knitwear, smart dinners as much as Sunday mornings. And most importantly - for the sartorially adventurous - something that works with any colour or texture you throw at it.

For me, the king is grey flannels. I recently recommended them to a friend of mine: a lawyer who, like many today, was looking for a way to dress down without dumbing down, to get out of his navy suits without scaring the partners. I received a effusive email of thanks two days later. I believe he now owns three pairs. Flannel trousers work because they are smart, but not as smart as worsted (that’s the fine, sharp cloth most suits are made from). They are casual, but not as casual as chinos. And mid-grey is the most adaptable - the most forgiving - of colours. Grey flannels work wonderfully with a smart navy blazer, a hairy brown tweed, a bright Shetland sweater or even a polo shirt. They are the saviour of modern elegance, and should go with you everywhere.

If there is an equivalent in chinos, it comes in a pale, subdued colour variously referred to as beige, sand, or stone. It is a hard colour to get right. Too light and it verges on cream, which is both smarter and a pain to keep clean. Too dark, or too strong, and it is no longer as useful a foil to dark jackets and knitwear. Drake’s call theirs ‘khaki’, and fortunately it is the perfect tone. Indeed, you could argue it’s just as versatile as grey flannel for the right man. For although chinos are less formal than flannel, in this form they can be worn with the full range of casual clothing - not just soft-shouldered jackets, but loafers and cardigans, even T-shirts and trainers. Pack both these and the flannels on a trip, and there will be no situation that isn’t catered for.

The other two trousers in the Drake’s range are variations on the theme. There is a dark-grey, almost charcoal trouser in a worsted wool. Although this isn’t quite as useful as flannel, I’ve always found it the most adaptable of worsted colours - suitable for a range of blazers, and for both black and brown shoes. I can think of at least two jackets (one a shepherd’s check and the other a plain purple) that only seem to be happy with this material of trouser.

And on the chino side, the stone is kept company by an olive. Now olive colours vary almost as much as stones do, but this is a deep and muted shade, making it very useful for paler jackets such as a light-grey cashmere or donegal. A green chino is also very helpful when you’re trying to combine navy, grey and brown elements elsewhere in an outfit. Green is pretty rare colour of knitwear or shoe, and is therefore unlikely to clash with anything else. Many men today who are used to wearing navy or grey suits are switching to a sports jacket and trousers. This can be daunting. There are so many options, and so many ways to go wrong. A versatile trouser in such a situation is be a god-send.


Share This