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Trouser Waistband

RobertBishop | Posted in General Discussion on

Some of you may remember the 18th Century gentleman’s suit I constructed for a local organist – I needed advice on giving him enough room in the shoulders to play the organ and conduct.  Raising the armholes and pleats in the sleeve back worked, and the suit has been a great success.

Same client, new problem.  He is long waisted, and an “athletic” conductor, and his shirt tails are constantly pulling out and blousing out at the bottom of his vest.  I’m reluctant to make the vest too long – he has fairly short legs as it is.

I wonder is anyone has tried replacing the waistband of formal trousers with a wider waistband – four or five inches, flat and tailored in the front with wide, strong elastic across the back.  It will not show under the full-backed vest, and would keep the shirt tails under control.  But, I need suggestions on how to keep it from sagging and possibly folding over.  Vertical boning?  Heavy interfacing in front? (He refuses to wear suspenders, and does have a bit of a belly.)

Any suggestions would be appreciated.



  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    The inside of men's trousers has a rubberized band that helps keep the shirt from untucking.  Does his pants have this?  Perhaps a Cummerbund would work better for him than a wider waistband on his pants.  It would cover the area, and perhaps be more comfortable.  It would ride over the pants, and shift a bit more for comfort, but still cover the area so the shirt would not show.   Cathy

    1. Josefly | | #2

      Yeah, a cummerbund is a good idea. It may work better if it's somehow buttoned to the back waistband, though, so it doesn't rise with his shirt when he raises his arms. Buttons on the inside of the cummerbund, button-holes in the waistband, or vice-versa?

      1. damascusannie | | #3

        I was going to suggest fastening the cummerbund to the waistband somehow, I think your idea of buttonholes in the waistband and buttons on the inside of the cummerbund is a good solution and no one would ever know the difference.

  2. KharminJ | | #4

    My Dad's dress pants (all antiques by now!) and some of my Mom's suit-skirts had a rubberized strip inside the waistband specifically to hold the shirttails in. I haven't seen that specific kind of material in eons, but could you repurpose something else? I'm thinking of either open weave shelf- or rug-liner, or the rubber-dots fabric sold for the bottom of kid's booties? Or, if you have upholstery fabric "laying around" (my stash is mostly flat folds and remnants), the wrong side of some have a rubbery non-slip coating, too.

    Sounds like perhaps a little more width across the shoulders of any new shirts might help, too... and/or more length?

    Happy experimenting!


  3. KharminJ | | #5

    You also wrote: ...replacing the waistband of formal trousers with a wider waistband - four or five inches, flat and tailored in the front with wide, strong elastic across the back.Perhaps, just adding the "extra" to the back? ... The bottom edge is still as originally designed, but the top curves up towards the center-back? Think of the waistband as a very wide, very shallow top-of-the-arm shaped piece. Just thinkin' out loud, here...Kharmin

    1. RobertBishop | | #6

      I should have been more specific - the conductor's out fit is "white tie;" tailcoat with formal vest. Can't use a cummerbund. The sides of the vest can't be cut too far below the bottom of the coat front. My thought was something to the effect of "matador" pants - a clean line up under the vest, which would also serve to keep the shirt from blousing out between the bottom of the vest front and the pants. The problem wouldn't be so obvious if he wore a white vest, but I have made him several in various brocades and tapestries. Thanks for your suggestions so far ...

      1. suzywong | | #9


        In lieu of rubberised waistbanding, try putting dots of silicone on the inside of the waistband.   That should give enough grp for the shirt.

        Good luck

  4. Ralphetta | | #7

    There was an extensive discussion about dealing with problems for male ice skating costumes during the past year. One part of it dealt with flexible movement and shirts, (it wasn't just about stretch fabrics). Even if you didn't find something to help you with your current problem, I think you would find it very interesting. If you SEARCH you should be able to find it.

    1. Sancin | | #8

      I was thinking about rubberized elastic as well. I have been looking for such a product for a long time, so if anyone knows a source please let us know. My mother showed me how to make a belt of such elastic, fastened with fastener used to shorten or lengthen bra straps. I wore it between a blouse and a slip (slippery) and occasionally between my skirt and and blouse. I still have that grungy looking thing, but alas my waist has extended considerably and the elastic is breaking down. It worked very well. It was narrow and I always wished it was wider. Perhaps you could buy a pair of trousers with elastic in the waist at a thrift store and put it in the current gentleman's pants. I think I may try that myself. The belt also worked well when worn against the skin.Let us know what works - would work with silks which I am sure some of us wear.

      Edited 12/13/2008 9:52 pm ET by Sancin

      1. zuwena | | #11

        Several years back (in fact quite a few) I had some elastic that had dual rubber strips--the elastic was made for use in biking pants.  I would try some of the online or other places that have supplies for athletic clothes if you are interested in that kind of elastic.  Z

        1. CoutureMan | | #12

          Think easy...........I wear suspenders from my shirt tail, on both sides, to my socks. Military issue for dress Blues (Air Force) which four are required...two front and two back.You can make them out of about 3/4 in. black elastic and girdle/stocking tab clips.....what ever you call them. Black clips are hard to come by.If I have a dress shirt on I feel naked without my suspenders. I can raise my arms over my head and the suspenders pull my shirt back into my pants. Slight tuck front and back and I'm looking Hot again.All men should wear these devices because most of them look like slobs.Mark

          1. Sancin | | #13

            Source for elastic with exposed rubber to prevent clothing riding up on skin:http://www.peakfabrics.com/notions.php

          2. KharminJ | | #14

            Hey Mark! Those sock-to-shirttail-suspenders *sounds* terrible - but obviously isn't in fact. Definitely goes in MY hints and suggestions file! Happy Warm Winter Holidays of Your Choice!Kharmin

  5. sewelegant | | #10

    My husband was a career military officer and his required shirts were all made with the high armholes... I would always think "oh, how uncomfortable is that", especially in warm climates, but they always looked well dressed and no one ever had their shirttails hanging out at the end of the day!  The moral of my tale is:  I think you will have to redesign his shirt with high armholes that move with the body and allow all that gesturing so the tails will not pull out of his pants.

  6. sewman | | #15

    I've heard of performing artists having shirts made in such a way that the shirt from the waist down was actually cut like a leotard. (connects between the legs and snaps in place at the top of the inseam)  People tell me it works. :)

    1. RobertBishop | | #16

      I really appreciate all your suggestions, but I would like to get back to the original question - has anyone tried a very wide waistband with elastic in the back?  Part of the problem is his long torso, - his shirt shows whether it is pulling out or not - and I don't want to make the vest too long.  That will make his legs look even shorter.  Again, my "vision" is a clean line from the trousers up under the bottom of the vest - thus the matador pant comparison.  I think I will go ahead and make a mock-up with an old pair of pants, using heavy interfacing and/or boning to prevent the possibility of having the wide waistband roll over.  Will keep you posted ...

      1. sewman | | #17

        OK., I get it now.  Have you thought about doing a normal width waistband on a high waisted pant with a 5 inch elastic waistband curtain on the inside. Sansabelt pants are constructed like this. 

        1. Sancin | | #18

          What about looking at some women's dress vests for ideas? There are some interesting ones that hang below a jacket such as into a V. If the the vest is the same fabric as the jacket it could look very nice. The way to lengthen legs, I would think, would to make the jacket front shorter, just to the waist. Good luck and let us know what you come up with. I have noticed some women with the same problem.

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