A trouser break is the place of contact where the terminal point of fabric of the pant legs creases against the shoe. Much like a wave crashing over a coastal reef, a pant “breaks” against the foot and, depending on the length of fabric, swells back against it or flattens. The physics of waves are recreated through fabric and give the wearer an impulse of energy. How best to display this energy, for that is what a fold of fabric is, kinetic energy pulling against the cloth and creating ripples, and how to make this energy look sartorially significant, depends very much on the build of the wearer in coordination with the location and occasion for the outfit. There are four main types of breaks (though the last is no break at all but included within the range of possibilities) that one can wear. Each type of break very much depends on the full ensemble and no break can be successfully worn if the rest of the outfit plus the actual physical build of the wearer is not taken into account. Typically the shorter the break the more modern and hip, and younger, the style. The longer the break (excluding the full break) the more serious, conservative and older.
The Full Break occurs when the fabric comes into contact with the heel of the shoe. Here we have our highest point of energy in the fabric. The fabric billows over the shoe and creates an extremely casual look. The full break conveys a certain luxury and disregard for silhouette, which is the central philosophy of the modern business suit, and when worn right can invoke that sense of fullness. However it is very easy to overdue and let the fabric actually touch the floor. A good pair of trousers is much like a nation’s flag and should be kept off the ground. That is more the domain of denim.
The medium break is the domain of the serious conservative choice and best thrives in an office environment. The medium break provides the best transition point for the flow of the trouser down into the shoe and establishes a blending effect much like in oil painting. A true survival aesthetic for anyone working in high finance.
The slight break occurs when the fabric is cut just long enough for a slight break at the front. This break is an updated look and blends a bit of daring with a bit of conservatism. It is just enough of a pull away from the medium break to look trendy without making a loud display.
The cut of fabric in the no break style is somewhere around the ankle. This has traditionally been a school boy design but in recent years has been fully embraced in every segment and location of men’s fashion. No break trousers are often paired with wearers ditching socks and the show of bare skin from up out of the shoe and into the no break hemline works very well.