Ask MR PORTER: What’s The Deal With IPF (Ideal Pants Fit)?

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Ask MR PORTER: What’s The Deal With IPF (Ideal Pants Fit)?

Words by The MR PORTER Team

21 August 2020

Welcome to #AskMrPorter. Think of us like a fortnightly Dear Abby, but about the best Zoom shirts and the pesky conundrum of IPF (Ideal Pants Fit). Drop us a line at or tag us on social media with your questions and we’ll have our team of experts set you straight. 

I have a big pitch meeting coming up, what shirt should I wear for the Zoom call?

A very important question, and one which asks another: are you pitching a new corporate strategy, say, to a new client? If you are, something buttoned up, sober, maybe pale blue or chambray, would seem fitting. Or are you conferencing into your Hollywood agent’s office with a wild new instalment in the Witcher-verse? Maybe you are hoping to project visionary enough to have great ideas and yet responsible enough to be safe with your investment, so maybe something bolder than chambray, but just this side of the full aloha shirt.

For everything in between, we have turned to our pal, MR PORTER contributor, Vogue columnist and author of Trivial Pursuits, Mr Raven Smith. A good Zoom shirt – one that, as Mr Smith says, “quietly dazzles the group with a pattern that doesn’t strobe”, should be just like the ideas you’re presenting. “Bold prints are preferred,” he says, “near-aggressive graphics a plus. Life is too short for muted shades; this isn’t an audition for cinematic aperitivi at sundown. I prefer the dazzle camo of a Wacko Maria to island prints – I’m saving those for the actual beach.” And what about styling? “Ideally you only button the collar and create an off-screen vent below deck and a Dyson between your legs.”

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My company is slowly returning to in-office work and I should probably freshen up the wardrobe accordingly, but I have to ask, are we still doing suits after all of this?

We are happy to say that reports of the suit’s demise have, as ever, been exaggerated. “In fact, I have to confess that I’ve never been more excited about suiting,” says our US Editor Mr Chris Wallace. “Think of it this way – and I say this as someone who has only worn pyjamas for the past five months – suits (‘leisure suits,’ as they used to be called) are essentially socially-acceptable PJs. When they are well made and fit you well, the suit jackets and trousers we love (and I wear a lot of linen, corduroy and knobbly wool numbers) are basically indistinguishable from your cosy old tracksuits – because, well, the patriarchy, but I digress…

“Add to that the fact that in recent years suiting companies have been taking their fit, fabric and silhouette direction from streetwear (when the tailoring companies are not actually collaborating with streetwear companies, as in the case of Fear of God x Ermenegildo Zegna), bringing us to a nice sweet spot of volume and vibe. By all means dress them all the way down, with polos, tees, or no shirt at all (especially if you are a second-generation celeb doing dinner at Nobu in Malibu), but I think that you’ll find that suits, no matter how you wear them, change the way people treat you. They add a little bit of presence and structure to your aura. And frankly, after this season spent supine on the couch, a little structure may be what we all need.”

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Honestly I think I’ve lost the plot a bit – when I look at pants nowadays, they seem boxy, short, weird? Is that right? How long should my trousers be, really, and how slim (or not)?

My friend, you are not the only one to express a little trouser-confusion. This is a hot topic among style-minded men the world over. So, in order to properly answer your/their question, we turned to someone who has developed some mastery in this department, the great writer Mr Jonah Weiner, who seems to have all of our favourite musicians and actors on speed dial, and whose really rad style site Blackbird Spyplane recently dived deep on the pants fit front. Here is what Mr Weiner learned in the process:

“The most simple way to theorise the IPF (Ideal Pants Fit) at any given moment is on an axis from too tight to too voluminous,” says Mr Weiner, “and right now you can, and should, definitely err on too voluminous when it comes to your pants. Go too slim and you look either like a) a washed dude stuck in the amber of how cool he thought he looked circa 2004 when the first Franz Ferdinand album came out; or b) one of those dudes wearing an overlong scoop-neck T-shirt and big white designer sneakers circa 2018 at a Chainsmokers DJ residency at the Wynn. Neither of these options is a win. 

“On the other hand, go too voluminous – like 1990s-raver-pant/JNCO voluminous – and at the very worst you look like a ridiculous weirdo off on his own trip, doing his own thing. That isn’t exactly a win… but it’s not a loss – and it goes to illustrate that ‘more volume’ is the generally right direction to move in right now. (You can decide for yourself whether that means a time-honoured roominess like Levi’s 501s or more free-flowing Comme des Garçons-type trousers.) In part, this depends on the kinds of outfits you’re trying to put together and especially on the shape of the shoes you’re wearing – there’s no catch-all formula here but generally speaking a wider leg-opening wants to blossom over larger shoes

“Which brings us to the other part of your question, about length. Pants hemmed at the ankle or just above it – or cuffed to hang in that zone – have been dominant for a few years now, for good reason: you can show off a little pop of sock and you can avoid the vexing uncertainties of the FAP (Footwear-Ankle-Pant) Interface. You can already see some dudes letting their pants rest on the tops of their shoes with a little break, uncuffed, and that definitely feels like the way things are headed – though, personally, a cuff makes a pant feel like it’s been punctuated in a way I’m not ready to let go of just yet.”

For more on IPF and all other style considerations, see Mr Weiner’s best-in-class site.

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I need to send a housewarming gift. Any recommendations?

Our Roman & Williams Guild collection is chock-a-block with goodies, from vases to cushions to amazing plates that every new apartment needs. Speaking of, if the giftee is crafty-cool, maybe a BODE plate is the move. Otherwise, if they are anything like us, they are spending a lot of time staring at their new walls these days, and might be better served by staring at a great photo of the great beyond.

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Illustration by Mr Slowboy