Big occasion? No problem. Every contemporary gentleman's wardrobe needs at least one pair of formal trousers, for those times when only smart is good enough. The latest cuts and fabrics mean that your next pair need not be restricted to that splurge restaurant or winter wedding, however. Contemporary tailoring from exacting labels means that these are pieces that can dress down just as easily as they can dress up. Select the right pair for your personal style and you may find they become your go-to for Saturday morning coffee with a cable knit jumper thrown over the top as well as with tweed jacket and open-necked shirt for a country lunch. We've selected some of the best men's formal trousers for you to choose from - and first a few tips:
What to look for in men's formal trousers
First things first: as we’ve said you don't want your next pair of formal trousers to be a single occasion piece, bought for that smart wedding and then forgotten. Today's classic-meets-contemporary styles mean that, chosen well, your next pair of formal trousers will be ready to impress on date night with cocktails - and just as happy to go down to the pub teamed with suede jacket and t-shirt.
You'll see references to flat-fronted or pleated styles. This really is a matter of choice. Pleated is very much the classic style, often referencing the 1950s, sometimes updated with a tapered, rather than regular, leg. Flat-fronted is the contemporary look, but may not be distinctive enough for some.
Fabric is key, too. If you're after an autumn or winter piece, then flannel - accept nothing less than 100% wool - is the way to go for both look and feel. Heavy cotton fabrics offer the versatility of being there for you on cooler summer days as well as the shoulder seasons, into winter itself.
Most upscale labels leave trouser cuffs unfinished. That's to ensure that you gain the perfect break on your shoes. No-one wants their formal trousers to pile up over your brogues. Let your local alteration service do the final tailoring - and the end result will be a personal, almost bespoke wardrobe piece.
There are options on waist height too. Medium high rise is more contemporary, while a high waist is more classic. Again, it's down to personal style. Whatever you choose - and we'll say it again - let the emphasis be on versatility. Just because formal trousers are, well, formal, doesn't mean they can't mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe to lift even the most ordinary of occasions, as our choices illustrate.
Best formal trousers for men
The Frankie Shop Beo Suit Pants
For a relaxed take on formal suiting, look to The Frankie Shop, a label renowned for its smart, oversized silhouettes. The Beo Suit Pants feature a wider-than-usual straight leg, with pleat front detailing and pressed creases for just the right level of sophistication. Team them with a shirt and oversized blazer for a smart office-ready look, or keep things low-key with a simple plain tee and minimalist sneakers.
Wax London Pleat Trousers
Wax London's Pleat Trousers, available in dark grey or black, strike the perfect balance between smart and casual. Crafted from a thick wool blend, they're perfect for sprucing up your look in the chilly winter months. Subtle pleats and a tapered leg lend them an elegant tailored look, while sustainable corozo buttons elevate them ever so subtly.
Closed Livington Wide Pants
Meticulously cut from a luxurious wool blend, these checked trousers from Closed will serve you well for many years. They feature a loose fit with a straight leg and slightly low crotch, for ultimate comfort and a relaxed look that can be effortlessly dressed up or down. Team them with a tucked-in knitted polo shirt and brogues for a cool retro-inspired aesthetic.
Percival Linen Tailored Trousers
In 100% linen, Percival's immaculate take on the formal trouser is true to this London label's mission of classics, reinvented for your contemporary wardrobe. Cut is deceptively simple, leg is straight cut - rather than skinny - for maximum versatility, whether you're dressing up your slacks with a blazer and open necked shirt, or going smart casual with a tucked-in tee and leather sneakers. Easily an essential.
Axel Arigato Night Straight Pants
Axel Arigato may be best known for its casual streetwear staples, but the Swedish label isn't scared of dipping its toe into the world of formal attire, as evidenced by these elegant men's trousers. Cut from a premium Italian fabric in a neat straight-leg shape, they feature pressed creases and Axel Arigato's signature logo patch.
Belafonte Ragtime Clothing 2Tack Trousers
Belafonte's signature 2Tack Trouser has been reimagined in a heavyweight herringbone wool, perfect for winter. The Japanese-crafted style is inspired by classic 1950s trousers, and features a high rise, pleated front and straight-leg silhouette. Style them with a denim shirt and Derby shoes.
L'Estrange London The 24 Trouser
Italian fabric and tailoring meets L'Estrange London's modular approach to your wardrobe. Result is The 24 Trouser, featuring hidden elasticated waist for maximum comfort, construction from 97% organic cotton with added elastane for extra stretch and cuffs designed to be rolled to your favoured length without the need for alterations. Ease is the key here, with no sacrifice of style whether you're wearing your 24 Trouser out on the town teamed with a sharp jacket or down the pub with a t-shirt.