As I’ve mentioned before, men’s clothing enthusiasts often tout the importance of buying high-quality products, an ideal that I generally agree with. Of course, few of us have the funds to buy the best of the best of everything, so the process of finding and purchasing clothing and accessories becomes more of a decision of when to save and when to splurge. Even then, cost does not inherently imply quality, so determining where money is well spent can be difficult. This is a series of posts that show some of my purchases (both expensive and affordable) after a year or more of hard wear in order to display how they have held up over time. Only you can decide what is worth spending on and what isn’t, but the more information you have the better-informed your decision will be.
Finding nice trousers can be a challenge. There are endless options for casual chinos, but things get trickier when you’re looking for something a bit more dressed up. Moreover, they can get expensive very quickly – with made-in-China wool trousers from J. Crew going as high as $250, it’s hard to figure out what a reasonable price for a good pair of odd trousers is.
It’s reasons like this that have made Howard Yount’s trousers the celebrated choice for many bloggers, including myself. Although they are not cheap, they are honestly priced and carry less brand markup than a similar item from other brands like Ralph Lauren or Incotex. Howard Yount’s wool trousers are made in Italy or the USA out of high-end fabrics (Vitale Barberis Canonico, in this case), and feature all the great details you would hope for. I had been eyeing a pair of flannels for a long time, and eventually bit when the sale price hit $165. To this day, that remains the most that I have ever spent on pants. Add on $35 in tailoring (hem, cuff, and waistband adjustment), and it was by no means a cheap purchase. Nonetheless, I enjoy them immensely and have no regrets whatsoever.
First off, the fabric on these is as nice as any other wool garment I own. This pair is a mid-weight flannel, but I believe Howard Yount now has trousers is several weights. Flannel is often praised for its soft, fuzzy hand, and although I enjoy that aspect of it, I particularly love the incredible depth of its color. These may be simple gray pants, but they look much more rich and complex with their lovely marled fabric.
In terms of durability, I have not seen any signs of wear or tear over the past two winters. It is true that flannels are a bit more fragile then some of their woolen counterparts (and woolen flannels moreso than worsted), but as long as you don’t wear them continuously for a whole season I don’t expect there will be a problem. I wear mine about once per week when the weather is appropriate, which could happen at any point in the year in San Francisco. Will Boehlke recommends giving flannels at least two days of “rest” before wearing again, and I think his advice is sound (as usual). I also try to minimize dry cleaning, both to increase longevity and save money. Once or twice per year is usually plenty.
As I mentioned, Howard Yount’s trousers are not inexpensive, but I feel that they offer a good bargain nonetheless. They are made in Italy of high-end materials from mills like VBC and Angelico, and feature signs of high quality like a split waistband (for ease of waist adjustment), hand stitching, knee-length liner, and belt buckle loop (like Incotex). I’m confident that these trousers are very similar to other great pairs out there, but without the brand affiliation and at a much lower price.
I should note that the fit of the trousers has changed slightly since I last ordered – it looks like there is a bit more taper below the knee. I have no direct experience with this new fit, and although I like the fit of the ones I have, the new measurements don’t look too different. I’m planning on picking up a second pair soon, because these tend to disappear quickly. I’ll report back if the fit seems drastically changed but I imagine that they will still look and feel pretty dang good.
The rest of the “One Year Later” series can be found here.