So you’ve bought a nice pair of moleskin trousers, but now what? They’re too formal to be worn with a t-shirt, too casual to be worn with a suit jacket, so how should a man pair and match his moleskin trousers? To answer this question, it’s firstly important to understand moleskin as a fabric and what sort of characteristics it has, and then learn how to wear it with other clothing in your wardrobe.
What is moleskin?
Moleskin is a rugged cotton fabric which was traditionally used in outwear and trousers for British farmers and labourers. Given the fabric is durable, washable and keeps the chilly winds at bay, moleskin has always been associated with the British working class. Overtime, moleskin was used by landowners who found the fabric suitable for outdoor recreations such as fishing and shooting. Now, the material is often associated with British heritage menswear and is often featured in classic brands from the UK such as Barbour and Hackett.
Moleskin is woven with a twilled weave to form a dense cloth, giving it weight and shape. A mark of quality moleskin fabric is therefore how tightly woven the threads are and how soft it is. Moleskin is also brushed to form the nap, which the unique texture on the material – similar to that found in corduroy.
How to wear moleskin trousers
So given the historical context of moleskin, wearing a pair of moleskin trousers requires a bit more thought than wearing a pair of denim jeans. What they lack in versatility though is the ability to instantly upgrade an outfit by providing subtle texture.
As a general rule, moleskin trousers are too formal for t-shirts, and should only be worn with a shirt/jacket or appropriate knitwear. They are best paired with a separate coloured jacket and a shirt. In the images below you’ll notice that the colour of the jackets always compliment the moleskin trousers, allowing the contrast in the textures to speak for themselves. A loud coloured jacket with muted moleskin trousers wouldn’t work as the colours would take away from the play on textures.
Speaking of playing with texture, the gentlemen below has matched moleskin trousers with a knit turtleneck (left) and with a heavy tweed jacket (right). The reason these outfit works is because he has understood the key to wearing moleskin trouser: ensure the weight of the trousers match your top (i.e., shirt/knitwear/jacket). In the images below, the tops match the ‘heaviness’ of the trousers. This doesn’t necessarily refer to the physical weight of the fabric, but whether or not the fabric looks as heavy as the trousers. For example, a light linen shirt wouldn’t work with moleskin trousers, but a dense Shetland sweater would.
As moleskin has a unique texture, you can wear it with other fabrics such as tweed, wool or denim to play with texture. A great way to wear moleskin trousers on a casual occassion is to pair it with a denim top – in the form of a denim jacket or denim shirt – as shown below.
Traditionally, moleskin trousers were often worn in colder seasons, but designers now have moleskin trousers which are lighter and breathable, making them suitable for warmer weather too.
How to Take Care of Moleskin Trousers
Generally, moleskin trousers can be washed in the washing machine on a gentle cycle (turned inside out) with line drying. Sometimes, the manufacturer will ask for dry cleaning so always read the washing instructions carefully. If the moleskin fabric is 100% pure cotton, then its colour will fade with wear and washing. This way, the moleskin trousers will develop its own colour and age uniquely, just like denim jeans.
How to Wear Moleskin Trousers – Lookbook
Below are some images of how men in real life wear moleskin trousers. You’ll notice that they can be dressed up with a smart coat and turtleneck, or dressed down with parkas and sneakers. The beauty of learning how to wear moleskin trousers is that once you’re comfortable wearing them instead of your usual denim jeans, you’ll enjoy being able to mix and match them with many other items in your closet.