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How long should your dress pant cuffs be?

The question

How much of a break should there be in the trousers on top of the shoe? I am talking dress pants with cuffs on proper shoes. Some tailors tell me the back hem of the trousers should come to the top of the heel of the shoe but that ends up creating too much break for my taste. Is there a golden rule about this?

The answer

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The height of fashion no longer includes cuffed trousers. New suits have narrow legs and they look better with no turn-ups. That said, your tailor's rule about the hem sitting on the top of the heel pad was appropriate for a looser pant. The old-fashioned break guidelines held that there should be a slight fold above the front of the shoe. But the skinny trouser leg necessitates a different thinking about length. Very slim trousers just bunch up around the hem, so trousers have been growing shorter – so short that a few downtowners are even displaying a half-inch of sock. A stovepipe trouser should just touch the top of the shoe, making very little break. More conventional wider legs, even with cuffs, should come down almost to the top of the heel in the back and create just a "half-break" – something like a ripple – in the front. It helps to very subtly angle the cut of the hem, so that the back is a fraction longer.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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