The Difference Between Slacks, Pants, and Trousers

The Difference Between Slacks, Pants, and Trousers

Cultural differences can be lots of fun to discuss when discussing the differences between slacks, pants, and trousers.

If you’re in the United States, if a guy says that they left their pants at home, they’re talking about not having jeans, slacks, or trousers available to wear. It’s a generic term that covers everything that men wear to cover their legs.

When you’re in the UK, that same statement would indicate that they left their underwear at home.

This guide follows the generic differences between slacks, pants, and trousers to ensure that you’re referencing the correct term when speaking with others.

The Difference Between Slacks, Pants, and Trousers

Pants are a two-legged outer garment in American English. Trousers are the same as pants, although they’re created by sewing one piece of fabric together for each leg. Slacks are a more informal version of pants that typically have a looser cut and a greater emphasis on women’s fashion.

Not all trousers are made the same. When shopping for a new pair, you’ll find that there are slacks and dress pants available.

The three terms are generally associated with men’s apparel, although slacks are generic enough to work for some women’s styles.

You’ll also find specific variations within those three terms that describe particular designs. You can have jeans, overalls, dungarees, waders, khakis, and more.

What to Know About Slacks

In American English, trousers refer to all pant types that have a formal or semi-formal fashion association. They don’t apply to joggers, sweatpants, or other athletic-style choices you can find today.

If you were to wear slacks, you’d have a loose set of trousers that work for most settings. The term comes from an ancient Saxon adjective that means “loose.” They shouldn’t be snug or tight when worn.

Most slacks are made from woolen materials. That keeps the product from feeling heavy or overbearing, allowing for plenty of room to breathe.

Although you can find some traditional options referred to by this moniker in some stores, these designs are typically casual.

The primary characteristic of slacks is their loose-fitted construction.

What Are the Benefits of Slacks?

Most people will agree that a pair of slacks is more comfortable to wear than most dress pants. Trousers cannot offer high comfort levels if they fit too tightly around any point, including the calves, thighs, or waist.

When dress pants fit too tightly, they tend to dig into the sides and waist while restricting your ability to move and bend your body. Slacks don’t have these issues.

You’ll also find that slacks tend to be warmer than pants. This issue occurs when they’re made from woolen materials. If you find a pair constructed from a cotton/poly mix, this benefit disappears.

You can wear most slacks all year because of their loose-fitting nature. It’s only during the hottest days of summer when it might be an issue, and even then, it’s only when the cut is tighter than you might prefer.

That’s why it is tough to dismiss the overall versatility that slacks offer. You can still wear them in semi-formal settings, meet dress code requirements, or get some work done around the house.

What to Know About Dress Pants

Dress pants include formal and semi-formal trousers. Americans call them by this name because you’d use them in situations where you need to dress up.

Most families would encourage the guys to wear dress pants when going to church or a religious service. You might wear them if your employer has a business casual dress code they enforce when you’re at the office.

Dress pants are an integral component of any formal or semi-formal outfit.

Once you start looking at the different styles of dress pants, you’ll see some have similarities with slacks while others are closer to the international definition of trousers.

What are the Different Types of Dress Pants?

If you want to be well-dressed in today’s world, you’ll need to know how to find the right dress pants for your lifestyle. Once you understand the details to watch for with this apparel option, you’ll be able to find the perfect pair at a local store or while shopping online.

Pleated or Flat Front:If you have larger thighs or tend to carry some extra weight on your lower torso, a pleated front delivers a classic look. For those who are skinnier, having a pleat or two can end up being too much.
With or Without Cuffs:Dress pants with cuffs tend to be flattering on taller, lankier people. If you prefer pleats, the cuff’s weight is sometimes needed to keep it in place. When your preference is for a flat front style, you don’t need to have cuffs. Tailors can take them out if you love a pair without changing the style dramatically – or the reverse.
Zipper or Button:The front fly on dress pants might be a zipper, but it could also be a button design. You’ll want to review the enclosure method before purchasing the product you want.
Slit or Slash:Most dress pants have angled pockets that are known as a “slash” design because of the shape. Some variations are available for the back. You’ll rarely see patch options, with slits the recommended choice while offering a button closure. Always look at the back to see if one is included.
Slim-fit or Wide-leg:Different cuts for dress pants work better for unique body types. If you’re on the slender side, a pair of slim-fitting trousers create a modern look that feels comfortable while offering movement. Larger individuals need a wider leg to balance out the potential size differences from their upper and lower halves.
Lined or Unlined:Some dress pants, usually made with wool, come with a lining to prevent your legs from itching. It creates a silky feeling instead of something scratchy while helping the product maintain its shape better.

What Are the Benefits of Wearing Dress Pants?

Dress pants deliver some unique benefits, although they’re typically tied to formal or semi-formal settings. They primarily offer a dressier appearance than the options you can find with most slacks.

Although more designs are coming to today’s best slacks brands, more options are still available with dress pants. If you enjoy trousers with a suit, perhaps some chinos, you have the freedom to choose from a few different styles.

If cost is your primary concern, it’s easier to find slacks at a lower price than it is to secure some dress pants. It might be necessary to have a custom pair made for you, which would drive up the cost even further.

The other issue with dress pants to review is the overall color or pattern. If you wear a suit, it should match the jacket. A mismatched outfit is more appropriate in casual settings.

How to Care for Slacks, Pants, and Trousers

The easiest way to care for more low-cost slacks, pants, and trousers is to throw them into your washing machine. Always follow the label’s instructions for detergent recommendations, water temperature, and dryer settings. Formal and semi-formal options often require dry cleaning.

Wash, dry, and fold. That routine is familiar to almost everyone. Is it the best choice when you need to care for your trousers?

Although you can take care of your pants that way if you’re in a hurry (unless the label says dry clean only), it’s not the option to use if you want to look your best and have the material maximize its durability.

Here are the things you can start doing today to ensure that your slacks, pants, and trousers can keep looking fantastic.

1. Iron Your Pants

All pants look better when they have a tailored look with some crispness. Most people don’t take the time to give their trousers a proper ironing because it takes time to do it right.

It doesn’t need to be a major chore. The primary goal should be to get the pockets, seams, fly, hem, and waistband. Each one can be tackled relatively quickly once you get the hang of everything.

An ironing habit isn’t difficult to create. Even if you do the work during commercial breaks during a favorite show, you’ll get through your pants each week in no time at all.

2. Pay Attention

The most overlooked aspect of doing the laundry each week is paying attention to each label’s specific instructions. Pants that require dry cleaning will have that information marked there.

You’ll find five different symbols on most trousers that indicate what you should do with the material when it’s time to clean them.

  • A tub with a single dot indicates that you can machine wash the item in cold water.
  • When it has two dots in the center, it is a machine wash product in warm water.
  • If there are three dots in the symbol, set the washing machine to use hot water.
  • A hand in the tub is a symbol that says you should only hand-wash the item.
  • If you see an “X” through the tub, that means you shouldn’t wash the slacks at all.

When you do the laundry, try to separate the whites from the colors. Once you’ve taken that step, remove the reds and blues from the others to create four separate loads.

Although you can wash in cold water without causing much damage, you’ll typically get cleaner pants when following the instructions correctly.

3. Folding Technique

Pants spend more time getting stored than they do being washed and worn. The best way to preserve all trousers is to hang them upside-down.

You want the waist to be facing the ground to maintain a crisp look from the hip to the toe. When you have them folded in half and hanging over a hanger bar, you’ll have them look their best.

It helps to take the time to straighten the pants to have the creases and seams line up correctly. If you don’t invest a few minutes in doing this work, you’ll create new marks instead.

You’ll also want to put them across the hanger one leg at a time.

What Brands Should I Buy if I Need New Pants?

Today’s best pants brands include names like True Religion, Diesel, Wrangler, Armani, Calvin Klein, and Levi’s. If you need dress pants, places like Jos. A. Banks or Men’s Wearhouse deliver excellent choices to consider. When shopping online at a store like Amazon, brands like Van Heusen, IZOD, and Perry Ellis stand out.

Although the conversation about slacks, pants, and trousers usually involves menswear, women can benefit from having high-quality brands available in their closets. With Lee, Balleay Art, and Bamans serving those needs, it’s possible to find high-quality items for under $40.

I’ve always preferred joggers. They deliver the comfort of slacks while having an elastic cuff that keeps them in place on my legs. A few dressy pairs help me transition from the office to my next activity without needing to stop for a change.

What slacks, pants, or trousers do you prefer for daily wear?


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