The Wrong Trousers, The Right Trick


Since the big shift to working from home, sales of casual clothing have apparently jumped, while sales of formal shoes have dropped. Which makes sense, since people can often only see your upper half on video calls.

This got me thinking about the Anchorman image of Will Ferrell wearing a suit jacket but no pants (US ‘pants’, as in UK ‘trousers’; not UK ‘pants’, as in ‘underwear’ – that would be quite a different film!) And that made me think of this…

The Idea

When doing a virtual show, sat at a desk, you perform a variation of Split Decision (by Joe Riding) or Socks (by Michel Huot) but themed around trying to match the top and bottom halves of your clothing. Their selections don’t match…then they do.

The Details

Note: While I’ll describe this with a suit jacket and trousers, as that’s what I’d wear, the same thinking can be applied to a skirt suit or any outfit where the style of the upper half usually matches the lower half.

Wear a suit jacket that comes with a matching pair of trousers. But wear something contrasting on your lower half. This will depend on your show and your persona. If it’s a corporate show, maybe it’s still a suit, but in a very different colour. If it’s a comedy magic show for families, maybe it’s furry animal-print pajama-bottoms. Do what ‘suits’ you (sorry, not sorry).

Now have the audience choose a top and bottom half item of clothing for you – perhaps via flashcards drawn on a blank deck, or two forcing pads.

Reveal that the two halves don’t match.

Then stand up to reveal that the prediction does in fact match your outfit.

A Quick Kicker

If you prepare the trousers for a quick change, you could follow the reveal with a speedy switch to matching trousers.


Having written this up, it occurs to me that others may also have had this idea for a variation. If so, just let me know, and I’ll happily credit them. I’ve seen a few magicians comment online about their covertly casual bottom-half clothing – this is just a fun way to make it overt.


My creative chum and fellow Fringe performer, Peter (who goes by Anton for his mentalism releases) is giving a masterclass in January on how to give readings. Anton really knows his stuff from working in the real world (check out the Real Magic review of his book here) so it should be a fascinating event. You can find more details here: