Know the Drill

Believe it or not, a lot of people can hardly tell the difference between many types of casual/smart casual trousers. Therefore, for your consideration – drill, a beginners guide.


Lightweight drill is used in clothing for a myriad of items, in particular these days, in trousers and shorts. The most common use of drill is in uniforms and casual wear – but like most garments, the fabric has its roots in military history. 

Troops of the British Empire during its occupation of India wore uniforms of white cotton drill, which was dyed to a tan closely matching the colour of the dusty surroundings during the 1840s. Providing effective camouflage, the fabric soon became a popular material for other military uniforms, and like many other items including the tee-shirt, drill became popular in casual dress following World War II, as veterans returned to university. Today it remains popular as a uniform, especially in hospitality, as it is thick enough to protect the wearer from heat, hard wearing and comfortable. 


In modern times, many drill fabrics are synthetic or contain a synthetic mix, so they don’t require too much ironing and can withstand repeated washings, while colourways have moved away from camouflage to the more traditional chocolate, grey and black of other street clothing. 


Drill pants or shorts should be worn with dressier t-shirts and button-down shirts, tucked in or out. They're perfect for any casual or slightly more formal occasion like a date or a night on the town with the boys. They're considered a tad dressier than cargo pants or jeans, but remember that they are not formal in any way, even the black ones that are pretty plain. As always you match them properly with the rest of your ensemble.

Sometimes you slip on that new shirt and it just doesn't feel right. But what is it? Is it the sleeve length? The collar? The way it looks with a blazer? Well, the confusion ends today.


I've devised the following rules and tips for how basic clothing items should fit your body. And while what you wear and how you wear it changes over time, these tips are timeless. After all, getting clothes to feel right goes hand in hand with getting clothes to look right.


Determining whether you have the right fit when it comes to drill is fairly simple. 

Try them on without shoes; they should just touch the floor. With shoes on, the back part of your pants should barely touch the ground (one rule of thumb is that pants should break at about 1/3 of the way down the shoe). And remember that your socks should not show when you walk.


When belting, don't pull too tight, or you risk bunching up the fabric around your midsection. This will make your gut appear larger than it is. 


Pockets. With drill it is a case of less is more, so stick to two front pockets or at the very most two front and back. Anymore and you are wearing cargo pants. 


Pant styles come and go, at present there is focus on a more skinny type: but the seventies is coming back, so don’t rule out wide leg styles. The basic rule of thumb is if it suits you, wear it.

Some of the best kiwi drill pants and shorts can be found at

– Miranda Likeman
All images courtesy of Doosh


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