I’m breaking in a new pair of jeans, a pair of plain old Wrangler 13MWZ grandpa pants. As I walked out of the bedroom in them my wife remarked, “Hey, you’ve lost weight.” I hadn’t, but changing out of the jeans I normally wear (Levi’s 501 shrink to fits) into something that fit slimmer gave her the illusion that I had shed some pounds. I’ve looked and looked for good examples of how clothes should fit but that instance proved more to me than a million pictures about the importance of fit.
We’ve discussed before why you should be concerned with fit. Now we’ll discuss how your clothes should fit.
Button Up Shirts
Ideally you want a shirt with high armholes that don’t bind up when you move, a collar you can fit two fingers in when it’s buttoned, sleeves that end just below your wrist bone, shoulder seams that end where your shoulder bone ends and not a lot of extra fabric coming off those other areas. You might not be able to meet all those criteria, but that’s the ideal. If you live near a tailor, you can get sleeves shortened, sides nipped in and arms slimmed down. It’s best to remember though that buying a shirt too big and billowy is going to make you look bigger than you are. Tucking your shirt in military style can fix a little extra fabric on the sides, but you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a tent either.
Western jeans should “stack” a little, which is to say that you should buy them a little long so that the excess fabric bunches a little over your boots. There is a practical purpose to this: when you swing up into the saddle, the legs of your jeans will ride up. That extra length will keep your boots covered and not expose too much boot or skin to sun. Aside from that, you don’t want pants so tight you have to choose between tucking in your shirt or wearing underwear. The fabric should just skim your legs and you ought to be able to move freely in them without jeopardizing your family life. If you ride a lot, low rise jeans might not be a good idea, since the pockets are a lot lower you’ll be sitting on whatever is in them all day. Also, low rise jeans make it harder to keep your shirt tucked in and your underwear under. No one wants a sunburn on their butt crack. (If you’re shorter, jeans with a higher rise will make you look taller too, as the Wranglers did for me) I’ll go into more detail on jeans later.
(On the right, pants that are too baggy. On the left, pants that “stack” well. If you’re going to be riding, getting them a little bit longer wouldn’t hurt.)
Your belt is there to hold your pants up. By up, I mean above your waist. It should be snug, but not tight. Ideally, you want to use the third hole on your belt. Western style buckles (especially trophy buckles) make this a little tricky. For a belt you’re wearing with a trophy buckle, I find the fourth or fifth hole generally works about the same.
That’s going to be it for today. Next week I’ll cover some basic shirts that will cover pretty much any occasion, from weddings to rodeos to work.