If you’re a young adult, I’m sure you have worn a pair of slacks before. Slacks is a term used more commonly in the past to describe all pants. In today’s world, a pair of slacks is a specific style of pants. What are slacks?
Slacks are basically what most people call pants that are neither chinos nor jeans. They are all-purpose pants because they are versatile as well as comfortable.
As a general distinction, slacks are casual wear, while pants are formal wear. You can wear your slacks at the office, but you need to wear pants at evening events. In casual business meetings, it is permissible to wear slacks topped with a business jacket.
Read on to learn more about slacks and how they are different from other types of pants. I will also give tips on how to choose the right pair of slacks.
What Are Slacks?
The term slacks originated from the old Saxon word slak, which means things that are not tight. At that time, the word referred mostly to the loose end of a sail or rope. Much later, the term was applied to men’s wear. Now, a pair of slacks means pants that hung freely and not too tight.
These types of pants are more casual than the more fitted and stiffer dress pants. They are more comfortable to wear and are still appropriate to wear on many occasions. Slacks are technically any pair of pants that you can wear with a jacket in a casual business meeting.
Since you can wear them with a business jacket, they are also considered as dress pants. However, they are not part of a suit that features the same fabric and generic fit. They can be flat-front or pleated and are available in various colors. Cotton, linen, and lightweight wool are usually the materials used in making slacks.
Both men and women can wear slacks. In a sense, they are dressy if you compare them with denim, chinos, and khakis. Other characteristics used to describe these pants are traditional and conventional.
What Is the Backstory of Slacks?
The term slacks became popular in the early part of the 20th century. But as mentioned a while ago, the original word was slak, an old Saxon word referring to loose ties of rope and sails. There came a time when pants worn by men were typically loose. Eventually, some men began to use the word slacks instead of pants.
This term is not as popular today as it was in the mid-20th century. But it is still being used to refer to pants that are more loosely fitted and comfortable to wear as opposed to the more rigid and fitted dress pants. The term slacks, in a sense, is more of a slang equivalent of pants.
How Are Slacks Different from Pants?
What are slacks, and are they different from pants? There is really no marked difference between dress pants and slacks. But the word slacks has already outgrown its popularity. The generation of the first half of the 20th century has grown older, and so has the word.
Language is always evolving. A popular word today may not be as stylish to use ten years from now. Generally, men (or women) of older generations will casually say slacks when they really mean pants. On the other hand, millennials will mostly call a pair of pants as pants.
To give you an idea of what slacks are, look at this Ralph Lauren Men’s Cotton Dress Slacks:
It is made of 60% cotton, 39% polyester, 1% elastane, and is classified as dress pants. This pair of slacks has a flat front and a zip fly. Its color is neutral grey.
You can say that slacks is a catch term for all types of dress pants – depending on who is speaking. The chino pants are a bit closer to the general characteristics of slacks. Chinos are generally more casual and slightly less formal in appearance.
However, chinos are a bit tighter around the legs compared to slacks. If you want to make your outfit more casual, replace your slacks with chinos. And if you are unsatisfied, you can upgrade your outfit by wearing dress pants.
Dress pants are the trousers you need to wear if you want a truly classy and stylish outfit. Typically, they are made of expensive wool or high-quality synthetic fiber. Full suits come with matching dress pants, too. But you can always create your own look by pairing a classy shirt and tie with pricey dress pants.
Slacks are pants that are not part of a full suit. In another sense, slacks can also refer to women’s pants, as opposed to trousers that are worn by men. The word pants can also be used as a generic term for all forms of two-legged outer garments, such as jeans, trousers, and slacks.
What Are the Different Styles of Slacks?
The thing that makes pants look good when worn by somebody is its details. Different styles of slacks can make you look good. We’ve answered what are slacks pants; next, let’s look at the different styles of slacks. Here are the following styles to consider:
- Cuffs – They can be extended to lengthen the slacks and is great for taller men. Cuffs can also hold the pleats in place.
- Pleats – This style offers more room for leg movements. They are ideal for men who have wide hips and bigger thighs. Pleated slacks also balance the proportion and figure of men with broad shoulders.
- Flat Front – The front of the slacks is smooth. This style looks great for longer jackets. It is a style recommended for those with a slim physique.
- Pocket Style – Slacks can have four pockets. If you need pockets on your pants, check the details. But understand that pockets take up space. So, if you are slim, slacks with pockets will be great. However, if you are trying to look slimmer, stay away from this style.
- Zipper or Buttons – Some men are a stickler to zippers, while others prefer to button up. Which one are you?
- Fabric – Fabrics used in slacks come in varying price points. Your choice of fabric often depends on your budget. There are natural fabrics and synthetic ones. Wool is a natural fabric that is most commonly used in tailoring slacks and dress pants.
- Lining – Lining is often overlooked when considering pants. You will need slacks with lining if you live in colder climates. But you don’t need one in tropical climates. It is also ideal for slimmer men who need to add body on their legs. Those with silk lining feel more luxurious and more comfortable to wear.
A pair of slacks with some of the above elements is the Haggar Men’s Performance Cotton Slack Straight-Fit Plain-Front Pant. These pants are made of 57% cotton, 41% polyester, 2% spandex, and has a zip fly with a button. It is also available in different colors.
When Is It Proper to Wear Slacks?
You can wear slacks on nearly all occasions since it’s one of the most versatile outer garments for men and women. Given today’s casual culture, they are very appropriate to wear even at formal events. You can certainly wear it in a job interview, and the HR manager won’t frown upon it, as long as it is nice and clean.
It’s also important that you feel comfortable with what you are wearing, regardless of the occasion. That is why slacks remained popular after all these years. If you don’t want to wear a tight suit with tighter dress pants, you can always wear slacks under a business jacket, and you won’t be out of place in a business meeting.
How to Choose the Right Slacks That Will Make You Look Fabulous?
If you want to have the aura of absolute confidence, you need to dress up well. And if you are going to do that, you need to choose slacks that accentuate your plus points.
Below are six style tips on how you can select slacks that will make you look good:
1. Choose Between Plain Flat Front or Pleated
If you think you look good in flat fronts, then choose slacks with this style. But you also need to ask your wife or a close friend if what you think is really right.
Pleated slacks have additional fabric at the front and the upper legs. This style is good if you have a slim figure. However, if you are already bulky, flat fronted slacks are better as they will de-emphasize your size.
Here is a good example of flat-fronted slacks: Ryan Seacrest Distinction Men’s Solid Modern Fit Dress Pant Slacks. These pants are made of 100% wool in deep blue color. It has a zip fly.
2. What Is Your Fit?
Slacks come in three basic fits: the slim fit, the wide-leg fit, and the straight leg fit.
- Slim-fit slacks have legs that hug the shape of your leg. They also taper off toward your ankle.
- Wide-leg slacks are loosely fit on your waist and your thighs.
- Straight-fit slacks have leg trousers that seem to be straight or have the same measurements from the waist to the foot.
For heavier and bulkier men, wearing wide-leg slacks is better. This fit will create a visual balance between your middle and lower body. Slimmer men are better off wearing slim-fit slacks to avoid excess fabric hanging off their legs.
3. Choose Between a Zipper Fly and a Button Fly
It’s a matter of personal preference. If you are so used to opening and closing zippers, don’t choose button fly slacks just because they are stylish. The same is true if you are used to wearing button flies.
4. Pockets or No Pockets?
Two kinds of pockets are usually found in trousers. One is the slit pocket, and the other is the slash pocket. The slit pocket is vertical, while the slash is inclined.
Slanted rear pockets are quite rare, as most slacks have slit pockets. Some may also have buttons, while others have none. The pockets must also have enough room for the usual things that you carry along with you, such as your keys, wallet, and other small stuff. These pockets should also carry these items without bulging too much.
If you’re going for custom-tailored slacks, ask your tailor to adjust the pockets’ size so they won’t bulge when you put the items that you always bring along.
5. Cuffs or No Cuffs?
Dress pants usually have cuffs at their ankles. If you are using your slacks as dress pants, you should consider having their legs cuffed. Being cuffed only means that the ankle part of the pants is rolled up slightly. It is then sewn as a strip of fabric.
Cuffs also have a visual effect on pants. It will make legs appear shorter. So, this style will not be an issue for taller men. But if you are a bit shorter, it would be better not to have your slacks cuffed.
Slacks with cuffs seem to look better than uncuffed pants, though. You can always have your slacks cuffed if you’re a bit on the taller side. Flat fronted pants, however, usually come uncuffed, while most pleated slacks have cuffs.
6. Choose the Right Material
Finally, you need to choose the type of material for your slacks. If it is ready-made, the whole thing comes already complete. But if you are asking a tailor to do it, you need to choose the material. It also depends on the amount you are willing to spend.
Wool is more expensive, but it will last you for a long time. They also require dry cleaning to last long. Other fabric choices include flannel, polyester, and rayon. Flannel is woven wool, rayon feels like cotton, and polyester is the most affordable and easier to maintain.
Conclusion – What Are Slacks?
So, to answer the initial question: What are slacks? Slacks are what most people call pants. They are outer garments that are neither chinos nor jeans. Slacks are also considered as all-purpose pants since they are versatile and comfortable.
But as a general distinction, what are slacks? Slacks are casual wear, while pants are formal wear. While you can wear your slacks at the office, you need to wear pants at evening events. But in casual business meetings, it is permissible to wear slacks topped with a business jacket.