Pants are not the focal point of a man’s outfit; rather, their job is to draw the eye upward to your jacket or downward to your shoes, perhaps subtly flattering your legs. Additionally, since the legs move so much, a pattern that appears elegant on the torso becomes jarring below. It is no wonder, therefore, that virtually all men’s pants sold today are solids.
Gray, that most neutral of colors, does the job best. Whoever wears a sport coat, wherever and however he wears it, cannot go wrong pairing it with gray flannels. This wonderful fabric is made from Merino wool, and comfortably warm in fall, winter and spring. Softer than worsted, it does not hold a crease with the same rigidity as its more formal cousin. This makes it the ideal compliment to the sport coat, given the latter’s heritage as dignified causal wear.
Just as the gray suit looks good with any shirt and tie, so do gray trousers provide a sure footing for any sport coat ensemble. They work with brown or black shoes, from oxfords to loafers (although most jackets have a slightly narrower range). There is no color or pattern of shirt, tie, or jacket with which it clashes. That means that once you have picked out a combination of these three that compliment each other well, you’re done! Step into your gray flannels and you are guaranteed a harmonious outfit. This does not imply that gray flannels are an easy way out of the sometimes difficult task of color and pattern matching. Indeed, Fred Astaire, one of the best dressed men of the twentieth century and one renowned for his daring agility in mixing fabrics, wore gray flannel trousers more often than not. There’s plenty of room to be interesting above the waist and below the ankles.
Color aside, the texture of flannel is dressy enough for a blazer and tie while maintaining a long reach down the formality spectrum. With a turtleneck in your favorite color, they’re comfortable and casual, perfect for a Fall Saturday morning at home. When it comes time to go out, you can don any jacket in your closet without worrying about whether it will match your bottoms. Herein lies another of these pants’ advantages: They look just as good without a jacket as they do with one, allowing you to easily adjust the formality of your attire during the day without having to change.
Any sport coat will look good with a variety of pants. Better, though, that you own a variety of sport coats, and keep the pants simple and functional. Gray flannels go brilliantly with any jacket, and without compromising its versatility or allure. They will last for years, and like the classic navy blazer, they will never go out of style.