Ask the Tailor: Should You Choose Trousers with a Plain Finish or Turn Ups?

Photo by Michael

Each month we ask our expert tailors to address one of your most frequent questions. This month we’re exploring the issue of trouser finishes. Should you go for plain or turn ups?

Think trousers are the easy part of a suit? You might need to reconsider. Many tailoring clients spend a lot of time thinking about how they want their jacket to look but forget to make important decisions regarding the bottom half of the suit.

Trousers come with a lot of variations. When you choose bespoke tailoring, you gain control over all of them. This means you’ll need to decide whether to have a button or zip fly, trouser creases, belt loops and side-adjusters. Your tailor will also need to consult with you on how high rise you want your trousers, whether you want straight around or fishtail, what sort of fit you like and where you think the perfect length falls.

And, of course, we haven’t even mentioned today’s big debate: when it comes to trousers, should you opt for a plain finish or turn ups?

The case for a plain finish

If we’re being strictly traditional, all suit trousers should have a plain finish. A plain finish gives a neater, cleaner look and true formal trousers always have this finish. 

Aside from suit etiquette considerations, many people prefer a plain finish on their trousers as it generally looks smarter. A plain finish is a more mature look that blends more seamlessly into formal footwear. 

The case for turn ups

Believe it or not, turn ups actually have a royal pedigree. The look was pioneered by King Edward VII who, liking the way his trousers looked when he rolled the ends up to avoid bad weather, asked his tailor to stitch in a cuff. 

Nowadays turns ups tend to be more popular on informal trousers. This finish can look great on cords, chinos and jeans. Fans of luxury footwear often prefer turn ups as they draw more attention to their shoes. 

As an added bonus, turn ups can also be very flattering. They add body at the bottom of the trousers which can be beneficial in two ways: firstly because it can help balance out legs that are slimmer at the bottom than the top, and secondly because the extra weight can ensure a better trouser hang. 

Which one is right for you?

The great thing about choosing made to measure is that you don’t have to choose the standard option. In fact, in tailoring there really is no standard option. 

Though it’s certainly more the norm for formal and suit trousers to have a plain finish, if turn ups are your thing your tailor will be able to cut your trousers to accommodate. 

Next month we’ll be asking our tailors their thoughts on pockets; namely, what’s best, straight or slanted? Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it.