To Pleat or Not to Pleat? | The Great Trouser Debate


Flat-Front trousers (on the left) or Pleated Trousers (center)?

Flat-Front trousers (on the left) or Pleated Trousers (center)?


There’s been a big debate lately amongst myself and some colleagues concerning pleats.  Now, I’ll be honest– I haven’t worn a pleated trouser in who knows how long.  And it’s not like I ever did by choice, but that’s how most suits came for a long time.  And not just suits either– I remember when Polo sold only one basic khaki (chino, whatever… let’s not go there) and it was called the Pleated Jean–  with double forward pleats (the only acceptable pleat treatment in my mind).  Once in awhile you’d see the America Pant– their flat front at the time.  Anyone else relate, or am I dating myself?

Anyway, the debate is over the relevance of men’s pleated trousers.  Again, I could live largely without pleats altogether.  But, there are certain specific occasions when a snotty, grey flannel chalk-stripe suit with a peak lapel and deep double forward pleats, with a rise up to your belly button feels, well– proper.  I guess it’s more nostalgic than relevant, but it’s badass just the same.  Reverse pleats?  Not so much.  But that’s just how I roll.  The forward is more Anglo, the reverse feels more Euro.  Now the reverse has been adopted as the “every guy” pleat– meaning it’s the more commercial, and some say more flattering pleat.  It lays flatter, blah, blah, blah.  

Is the flat front the new absolute?  Will we ever see a large return to the pleated trouser again?  Are pleats relevant at all?  I feel likes it’s easier to get a guy who’s been wearing pleats into flat-fronts, but nearly impossible to get a flat-front guy into pleats.  I’d like your feedback.  Seriously.  And if you want to give a little feedback on your background to back it up, all the better.    


James DeangJames Dean Giant

James Dean wore bothnot that it matters.  What is relevant today?

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