There are a ton of little tricks, hacks and DIY solutions that you can use to make your clothes fit better, but BY FAR the most important one is this:
Get your pants hemmed.
It’s quick, easy and cheap, and there is no excuse not to do it. In fact, EVERY guy should be getting their pants hemmed. No matter how tall you are, it is rarely the case that clothes fit perfectly off the rack.
But we’re not talking about every guy…we’re talking about those of us on the shorter side. The problem we have is one of proportion. For example, say you are 5’6” and have a relatively athletic build. Not skinny, but definitely not fat. Not a bodybuilder, but fit. You might need a pair of pants with a 29” waist and a 28.5” inseam.
Good luck finding these at Banana Republic!
Instead, you will most likely have to settle on some 30×30 trousers, or maybe you will get lucky and snag a pair of 29×30 (although some brands do make shorter inseam jeans).
Now, it’s not a big deal if the waist is an inch or so too big. Just wear a belt. But if the legs are too long, it will ruin your entire getup. When short men wear oversized clothes (like pants that are too long), it accentuates their shortness, which is obviously not what we want.
Just look at Jonah Hill's red carpet photo above. He looks amazing in that black-on-black suit with a bow tie, but the pants are too long! I don't know who overlooked this detail, but it ruins the whole outfit. It's distracting and takes away from the overall look.
On the flip side, when your pants are hemmed to stop right past the top of your shoes, they actually compliment your figure and produce a heightening effect.
If you’re not yet convinced that you should have every pair of pants you own hemmed, pay attention next you go out in public. Look at random guys (try not to be creepy). Pay close attention to the length of their pants.
Are they bunched up around the shoe? Do they drag on the floor? Are there multiple breaks in the fabric running down the leg?
I guarantee you will notice how much better it looks to have that tailored, put together look that can only be accomplished with alterations.
Convinced? Good. Now let’s talk about how to get your pants hemmed.
You can go about this one of two ways.
- Pay someone else to do it
- Do it yourself
Most dry cleaners will do minor alterations (hemming pants is as basic as it gets) for a very reasonable fee. I wouldn’t pay more than $15-20 for this. If you have a really nice pair of dress pants, you can go to an actual tailor (found at any suit or tuxedo shop) and pay a little more to make sure the job is done right.
I recommend taking an old pair of jeans – like that pair you bought from American Eagle three years ago that never really fit right – and testing our your local dry cleaners alteration skills. Make sure they keep the original hem! This is important, so I’ll say it again:
When you get your pants altered, make sure they keep the original hem.
Otherwise, your pants will end abruptly, as if you folded them under to shorten them. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to pants with no hem (like many modern pairs of dress pants).
If you are crafty, want to learn a new skill or just like saving money, you can easily hem your pants at home. There are a ton of great “how-to” guides and videos out there that explain this process. Like these:
Note: For all of you young gentlemen out there who are still growing, there is a way to alter pants that allows you to “let them out” later on. This means you can buy them long, have them shortened, then restore them to their original length when you get taller. If you are still growing, make sure to ask your tailor (or mom) to preserve your pants in this way.
For what’s it worth, I prefer to pay someone else to handle my alteration needs. I’m a “time is money” kind of guy, and I don’t own a sewing machine, so I’m always happy to pay my dry cleaner twenty bucks to take this task off my plate. It’s part of my routine now:
Whenever I buy a new pair of pants, I take them to the cleaners during my normal weekly drop off, get measured (or, to save time, just bring a pair of similar pants that have already been shortened to an ideal length), and pick up my perfect-fitting pants a few days later.
Homework: Take one pair of pants to your local tailor or dry cleaner, get measured and have them shorten them to the appropriate length. Then, leave a comment below to share how much of a difference it made!