It’s a Cinch: Buckle-Back Trousers at J. Press

Over two years ago I wrote an open letter to American retailers suggesting they put a buckle on the back of chinos, a craze among students circa 1956. With the PITA trend in full swing, I even asked readers to speculate what brand might be first to freshen up a pair of quotidian khakis with this small but distinguishing detail. I neglected to include J. Press as one of the contenders, however, and sure enough it’s come through this season with “cinch-back” trousers made by Martin Greenfield.

There are two versions, both with stiff tarifs: The cotton trouser will set you back $275, the charcoal worsted a whopping $375.

Chotto takai deshou?” [“a little expensive, don’t you think?”], I said to J. Press’ Japanese general manager.

“More than chotto,” he replied. — CC

22 Comments on "It’s a Cinch: Buckle-Back Trousers at J. Press"

  1. Dockers has made in USA bucklebacks, on sale now too. Fit is slim and rise may be too low for some.

  2. The product nerd in me applauds Press for doing these.
    The tailoring student in me is glad that they are using Greenfield.
    The design nerd in me would like to point out that a buckle back can be added to any pair of unhemmed trousers using the excess material after hemming. I have this done with side-adjusters and back buckles regularly.

  3. I remember my mother buying me a pair of pants with the back buckle in the late 1950’s. She bought them for me (age 7 or 8) to wear to Vacation Bible School. I think they were dark brown in color, maybe corduroy. At first sight, I refused to wear them. I HATED THEM! I was a good boy, but no matter what she said, I told her I wouldn’t wear those pants. I think she gave them to my cousin. However, I was forced to attend Bible school.

    A day or two later she bought me a pair of Army type olive drab fatigues. They had the two very oversized side pockets. I loved them, and wore my Dad’s US Army cap with them. The cap was the flat soda jerk type cap depicted in the 50’s shows. I believe they were called garrison caps. The next time I got a cap or fatigues like that was in 1971, when I was drafted. Cheers!

  4. Wasn’t this same idea around last year in both the J.Press For Urban Outfitters trousers and the Polo Ralph Lauren “Professor” trousers?

    Earlier this year, I bought a pair of Polo Ralph Lauren madras-like trousers that had a buckle on the back.

    As one only runs around in one’s shirtsleeves at home and never at work or in public, where one always wears a jacket, it seems rater pointless to have the buckle in back unless one uses it to make minor adjustments in the fit of the trousers that cannot be achieved with one’s belt.

    I had several pair of ivy-league (as they were called then) trousers back when Eisenhower was President.

  5. Yes, we did call them “ivy-league” trousers back then, but I’m not sure whether the “i” and the “l” of “ıvy” and “league” were capitalized or not, and similarly unsure about whether or not there was a hyphen connecting them.

  6. Button-down Mind | September 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm |


    I think you have set a new record for the number of times a person has used “one” in a single sentence. Five times… if one were counting.

  7. Back-buckles are excellent for wrecking your car seats.

  8. “Ivy League: A popular look for men in the fifties that originated on such campuses as Harvard, Priceton [sic] and Yale; a forerunner to the preppie look; a style characterized by button down collar shirts and pants with a small buckle in the back.”

    Elements of Fashion and Apparel Design. New Age Publishers. ISBN 81-224-1371-4. p. 25.

  9. Nice pants with the exception of this rediculous addition! What’s next, external suspender buttons?

  10. Jim has enquired about what’s next…..Ralph Lauren Rugby has Plus Fours:

    Which might lead to ivy league Plus Fours, with a buckle on back.

  11. “Chotto takai deshou”? :-/

    I think you mean, “chotto takai desu ka?”

  12. Chigau-yo.

  13. Deshou is used when the speaker is not entirely sure of the answer, but thinks he may have it correct. In this case, Christian is pretty sure he has it correct, but uses deshou in case there may be an explanation for the cost that he is unaware of. Therefore, deshou is correct in this context (and he knows it, hence his response).

  14. I might have gone for for a trusty “takai dewa arumai ka”

  15. Also ロマ字 is for chumps. かな and 漢字 for life.

  16. Just give me a basic good old pair of plain front, belted, straight-legged, tropical worsted pants anyday, with a 1 3/4′ cuff. Leave out the rest of the trendy crap and I’m a happy guy!

  17. The circa 1956 trendy crap, right?

  18. Hey Christian: You are correct! Stick with the traditional basics. I’m a true purist at heart! Jim

  19. Kionon,


  20. I’d like to roll my eyes at you Henry, but since you make a good point, I’ll have to settle for a well deserved “Touche.”

  21. I might get the cotton pants IF they are washable. I don’t like dry-cleaned khakis.

  22. Do you make the vintage 1950’s light khaki polished cotton pants with small rear buckle at the top. Remember, no dark khaki material.And where can I order it. I live near San Francisco,CA.

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