The pants manufacturers are trying to flatter us. And this flattery works: Alfani’s 36-inch “Garrett” pant was 38.5 inches, just like the Calvin Klein “Dylan” pants — which I loved and purchased. A 39-inch pair from Haggar (a brand name that out-testosterones even “Garrett”) was incredibly comfortable. Dockers, meanwhile, teased “Leave yourself some wiggle room” with its “Individual Fit Waistline,” and they weren’t kidding: despite having a clear size listed, the 36-inchers were 39.5 inches. And part of the reason they were so comfy is that I felt good about myself, no matter whether I deserved it.
However, the temple for waisted male self-esteem is Old Navy, where I easily slid into a size 34 pair of the brand’s Dress Pant. Where no other 34s had been hospitable, Old Navy’s fit snugly. The final measurement? Five inches larger than the label. You can eat all the slow-churn ice cream and brats you want, and still consider yourself slender in these.