Pants Rise Is More Important Than You Think – Here’s Why!

Ed Ruiz

16 May 2017

What is the correct rise for my suit pants?” I hear you asking.

And you are not the only one. This is quite a common question among men who are starting to pay close attention to how they put a suit and tie look together.

The rise of your suit pants can play a huge role in the overall look of your outfit and your perceived body proportions, so we might as well tackle this question right now.

Dress Pants Rise

Alright, it’s time to talk about one of those elements that can make a substantial difference in how your suits (or just pants, in case you’re not wearing a full suit) will look.

And yet, it is one of those aspects that most men at best completely disregard and at worst get completely wrong.

That is, yes, you guessed it. The rise of your pants.

Let’s explore this fascinating topic (fascinating? Of course it is fascinating, but I know you either get it or you don’t), what it’s all about, how it affects visually your physical proportions, the different options you will find and what is the best rise for you and your pants.

So, What Is The Rise of Pants?

This section alone would require its own article, and in due time I will write it, but I want to give you a quick idea, so you can know what is it exactly we are talking about.

Rise is commonly described as the distance that goes from the crotch seam all the way to the top of your waistband.

Although some people will explain it as the difference between the inseam and the outseam of your pants.

Unfortunately, it seems there is no definitive agreement as to which is the best out of the two descriptions and no, both of these descriptions don’t necessarily will yield the same results when measuring for the actual rise of a pair of pants. Go ahead, grab a measuring tape and see it for yourself; try both methods and you will get different results.

I guess you will have to learn to live with this. As long as you are always clear about the type of rise you want for your pants and communicate your desired rise clearly to your tailor (or your salesman) you’ll be on the safe side. As always, open and constant commucation with your tailor is a good idea.

Now that we know what is the rise of your dress pants and how to figure it out, let me explain to you why it is really important that you pay attention to this often forgotten measurement.

Pants rise level: expert
Model: Ollis Leander (remember this name, guys)

Why Is Pants Rise Important?

To put it in very simple terms: the rise of your pants play a huge role in how your pants will look, how your legs will look and… well, how you will look when wearing a suit or just dress pants.

It is THAT important.

I have mentioned this in several articles, but the most crucial aspects of looking good in a suit can be reduced to two simple concepts: a) fit and b) proportions.

It all pretty much revolves around these two factors.

Pants rise influence both the fit and proportions of your suit and tie ensembles. If you relegate it as something of no importance, you’ll run the risk of ruining and otherwise very nice look.

You see, the idea of the formal or business suit for a man is that it is meant to accentuate the masculinity of the male body. Broad shoulders by the use of shoulder pads, narrow torso, long and strong legs, etc… all resulting in a very nice boost of confidence just by suiting up correctly!

In an ideal world, all men would have all these physical traits. And we would all look and dress like Cary Grant. The sad reality is, most of us don’t have ideal bodies nor we dress like the classic gentlemen of past and better times.

That is exactly when a well-fitting suit can be your best ally. Even if your body type is not ideal or if you have a few physical flaws, a properly tailored suit will improve drastically how your body proportions will look.

Related article: Male Body Types

Now specifically to the rise of your pants. They are crucial in the perceived length of your legs and it has the capacity to make you look taller than you really are (I’ll take two of those, please).

On the other hand, a badly chosen rise for your pants can have the completely opposite effect: make you look shorter than you actually are, or even make your body look totally disproportionate.

Being frank, we all want our legs to look longer and leaner, especially those of us who are rather shorter than the average man. This is where your pants rise can play to your favor.

Moving on, let’s talk about the different options of rises you will likely find.

I guess you can’t be perfect at everything you do.

High Rise, Regular Rise, Low Rise

Most off-the-rack suit pants or dress pants you will find won’t even mention rise, which sort of justifies why some men don’t even know this is something they must pay attention to. It’s obviously a conspiracy to keep us all in the dark!

Those of you going for off-the-rack pants, should always make sure you take some time to talk about pants rise to a salesman. They might not be knowledgeable in this subject, but hey, there is nothing to lose. At least you should make sure you come prepared with a clear set ideas of what you are looking for.

Similarly, those of you going for made-to-measure (MTM) or bespoke pants should definitely expect your tailor to address your pants rise, which will take that load off your shoulders, but you’ll also have to explain what your expectations or preferences are. If your tailor doesn’t touch on this particular subject when measuring your body and doing all the necessary prep work, better run away from that tailor, never look back and find a more competent one.

Now, generally speaking, most pants will come with three different rises:

Regular rise (or Standard rise) – The most common rise for dress pants, about 11″ is what most would call a regular rise.

High rise – Higher than the regular rise, just below, right at, or just above the navel.

Low rise (or Short rise) – Shorter than the regular rise (yeah, I know, I’m Captain Obvious…). This rise is most common on casual jeans, although it is, sadly, becoming more and more prominent in dress pants in recent years.

Unfortunately (especially for clothing companies), persons come in different sizes, so these three clasifications of rises cannot under any circumstance be considered absolute.

Not to mention the fact that many men have this weird tendency to wear their pants much lower than they really should.

I wouldn’t blame you if at this point you feel it seems all hope is lost and there are simply too many variables to consider that it is almost impossible to come to a final answer as to what’s the best rise for your pants.


Here’s A Very Simple Rule You Can Follow When Deciding Your Dress Pants Rise (Warning: You Might Not Like It)

No, there is no way I could even attempt to deny there are several factors to consider and giving you a definitive response might not be the most intelligent idea (you never know when the words you say will come back and bite you in the butt).

But ultimately, if we were to respect the very principles of wearing a suit, that is, the goal of enhancing the shape of the male body, there is really no contest here:

You should wear your dress pants and suit pants with a high rise.

high rise pants reactionThis means your pants should ideally sit at your natural waist. For most of us this means about at the same height as where your navel is located.

What?” I can hear you screaming in horror.

Come on, quit the pearl clutching!

“I will look like my grandpa!”

No, you won’t. You won’t look like your grandpa. And hell, if your grandpa wears his pants with the correct rise while you are wearing your low rise pants, you could certainly learn a few style lessons from your grandpa.

So get over it.

Read also: 7 Silly Misconceptions About Suit and Tie Wearers

Now, you might feel like you are absolutely, definitely, one-hundred percent, doubtlessly convinced that you simply won’t feel comfortable wearing pants with a high rise.

Here’s a lengthy list of possible reasons why you may feel “uncomfortable”:

  1. You are used to wearing pants and jeans with extremely low rises.
  2. You have never worn pants with a high rise that actually fit you correctly.

Well, I guess the list wasn’t lengthy at all, but here’s the thing, there is really no valid reason why a pair of properly-fitting dress pants that have a high rise should feel uncomfortable to you. A third option would be: it’s all in your head. But I won’t validate such excuses.

If you are really stubborn you might feel tempted to go back to your initial excuse, that for one very special and unbelievable reason it just won’t look good on you.

You’d be mistaken.

I don’t have to see you or know much about your personal style and yet still I can guarantee you that you’ll look better in dress pants or suit pants that have a higher-than-regular rise*

*Unless your legs are excessively long and disproportionate to your body – and I mean LONG, like reaaaaaal long and not kinda long – in which case a regular rise would be more fitting to your circumstances.

Still don’t believe me?

At least give well-fitting high rise pants a try one of these days. If after wearing them for some time you still feel you look bad in them and would rather stick to low rise pants, then go ahead and wear those.

But you’d still be wrong.

How high or how low do you wear your dress pants? Can any of you give me a good excuse to favor low-rise dress pants in the comments below? Yes, I am challenging you!

Stay classy, gents.

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