There was a time, not so very long ago, when to don a pair of trousers with a drawstring and elasticated waist on a day-to-day basis was to admit defeat. It was a white flag to the end of youth; the sartorial equivalent of trading your sports car in for a people carrier or buying a U2 album. On CD.
Today, though, things have changed. Dress codes have relaxed, comfort and stylishness are no longer mutually exclusive, and a new breed of legwear is making it possible for us all to enjoy the benefits of a drawstring waistband without being sent home from work to get changed.
Drawstring trousers are the legwear revelation we’ve all been waiting for. They’re relaxed, yet smart; comfortable, yet stylish, and above all else, infinitely versatile. Here we explore some of the key variations of a very modern menswear hero and take a look at the brands worth spending your hard-earned cash on.
Drawstring Trouser Styles To Consider
Who hasn’t dreamt about going into work in their jogging bottoms? Dress pants may look sharp, but when you’re forced to spend five days a week in them, comfort is every bit as important as a smart appearance. If only there was a garment that fell somewhere between the two…
A pair of smart joggers is just that. It’s a piece of clothing that can be paired with anything from tailoring to a T-shirt and trainers, while at the same time offering all the comfort of your pyjama bottoms.
Smart-casual can be a tricky concept to grasp, but with a pair of these at your disposal it becomes a whole lot easier. Drawstring chinos offer all the benefits of the traditional preppy staple, but with a more laid-back feel, making them an excellent everyday option.
This breed of drawstring trouser is also highly versatile. Try dressing a pair down with a light jacket, T-shirt and sneakers at the weekend, or wear them with an unstructured blazer, Oxford shirt and suede Derbies for a look that can take you directly from desk to dinner.
Linen Drawstring Trousers
Breezy, casual and comfortable; as far as summer legwear goes, it’s difficult to imagine anything better suited than a pair of linen drawstring trousers. Although we would advise you to steer clear of white ones, unless you’re buying them as part of a Richard Branson Halloween costume.
This lightweight, airy take on a modern menswear classic is your best friend when it comes to al-fresco evening meals on holiday, summer weddings and anything else that requires you to slip into something other than a pair of shorts for a few hours. Try them with a Cuban collar shirt and suede loafers to nail high-summer first-date dressing.
It wasn’t so long ago that pocketed pants were considered a style faux pas of the highest order. However, with outdoorsy gear taking front and centre stage in the world of streetwear and high fashion, cargo trousers are back with a vengeance, and comfier than ever before.
Drawstring cargos are about as practical as a pair of trousers can get, and while this does mean that they’re best suited to casual outfits, dressing them up with an unstructured blazer isn’t out of the question. Just look to the likes of Brunello Cucinelli for inspiration.
The Best Brands For Drawstring Trousers
If you’ve ever taken the time to peruse the selection of premium menswear over at Mr Porter, you can probably make a respectable guess at what the in-house label might look like. Mr P is a brand built on delivering luxury wardrobe essentials with a modern twist; a remit which drawstring trousers fall firmly within. Definitely a tad on the pricey side, but in menswear, you tend to get what you pay for.
Stocking a wardrobe with decent-quality staples on a budget was a difficult business until Uniqlo burst onto the scene. The Japanese retailer’s tightly curated seasonal collections are all killer and no filler, in stark contrast to many of its high-street contemporaries. Simplicity and contemporary twists are what give Uniqlo’s garments their unique sense of style and nowhere is this more apparent than across the brand’s selection of modern casual legwear.
If you’re in the market for a pair of smart joggers and aren’t short of a penny or two, Italian high-fashion heavyweight Gucci should be your first port of call. Sidestripe trousers are probably what the label is best known for, fusing streamlined silhouettes with streetwear-friendly details and branding. Not for the faint of heart or wallet, but undeniably some of the most luxurious pants around.
Occupying that expansive middle ground between a pair of smart chinos and a pair of sweatpants, J.Crew’s drawstring trousers are good for anything from a Sunday afternoon on the sofa to a Saturday night in town. Garment dyed for a lived-in finish, each pair is made from thick cotton-twill fabric and priced with good value in mind.
Sitting at the tricky intersection where high street meets high end, Reiss has all the trappings of a designer brand but with price tags that keep things relatively accessible. Expect sleek cuts, modern styling and tasteful subtlety aplenty.
For those who aren’t afraid of experimenting with more fashion-forward silhouettes, COS provides a handy high-street option that won’t leave you smashing your piggy bank come rent day. The London-based label is always one step ahead of the competition when it comes to spotting an emerging craze, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to start trends rather than follow them and aren’t scared of experimenting with an unconventional cut, it’d be well worth popping your head in here for your next pair of drawstring trousers.
Master of modern smart-casual staples, relaxed cuts and unstructured tailoring, Oliver Spencer has been a long-time proponent of the drawstring trouser. The chilled out yet smart look offered by a pair of these contemporary classics perfectly encapsulates what Oliver Spencer is all about, which is perhaps why the label’s own are so good.
As far as upscale casualwear goes, there’s no label doing a better job of nailing it than Brunello Cucinelli. The Italian brand may be a little too exorbitantly priced for most budgets, but if you’ve got the money for it, these are some of the finest drawstring trousers to be found. Look out for features like pleats and cargo pockets to really get a feel for what this luxurious label is all about.