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Fancy Pants

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Brad Paisley, March/April 2012

With the arrival of spring and the heat of summer not too far behind, the focus of men’s style shifts from suits and overcoats to a more minimal uniform of slacks and shirts. But by no means is that a license to fall into a pattern of wearing jeans and T-shirts. Rather it is the opportunity to enliven your wardrobe with happening trousers, a part of your ensemble that is downplayed when paired with a sport jacket, but placed at center stage when the dressing is more casual.

Stinson R. Ely revives what is arguably one of the most stylish trouser silhouettes with its Hollywood Waistband models. The look has proved the camera loves it in plenty of movies and worn by a parade of yesteryear’s Tinseltown stars. The likes of Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly all pursued the style, and fittingly so. The reason is simple: it’s quite flattering. The look instantly transforms the wearer into a slimmer-, taller-looking specimen of manhood.

The name itself is something of an anomaly as the pants actually don’t have a separate waistband per se—as trousers typically do. Instead the same fabric as the rest of the garment swoops up from the hips in a gradual, graceful manner to a high waist, with the effect of an elongated waistband where none actually exists. That the garment is fully pleated accounts for the slimming effect. The high waist makes your legs seem to go on and on. Pegged cuffs create a V-shaped silhouette that makes you look athletic. Diminutive loops also feature the necessarily slim belt line as well as slimming your waist.

While the style evolved from the Duke of Windsor’s drape suits, it took off in a major way in the late 1940s after fabric rationing of the Second World War ended and fashion reverted to showcasing generous styles like this. It had its death knell when it was logically paired with the excesses of the zoot suit, a fad that collapsed on itself.

Stinson R. Ely seems to have picked a perfect moment for its resurrection, especially if you are shopping for spring looks. The trousers shown are hand-sewn from a single bolt of cloth and are available in a collection that includes a daring color array (see swatches left). These pants in currently fashionable turquoise are paired with the firm’s alligator belt by Henry Slaughter American.

Visit stinsonrely.com.

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