I recently started working on the Hill after years at a non-profit that allowed me to wear jeans every day. As a result, I need to buy new suits, jackets and pants. My girlfriend says no pleated pants, but if that’s true then why does every store sell them? I don’t think they look bad, but I’m curious what you think.
Belle: Whenever a man asks me this question, I feel like doing a Mommy Dearest-like scream, “No pleated pants, ever!” But since you were probably looking for a more thoughtful answer, and one that didn’t involve being beaten with a wire hanger, let’s ask our resident Y-chromosome, Beau, what his thoughts are on the subject.
Beau: To pleat or not to pleat, that is the question.
As far as the look of a man’s suit, pleats are mostly decorative, but they do contribute to the overall allusion of your waistline. If your goal is to be more fashionable, which is why I assume you are reading this blog, then always go with a flat front. Hands down, flat fronts are more fashionable.
Men often say that flat front pants are for the slimmer, or more athletic types, because you are dealing with less fabric around the waistline. The opposite is actually true, having pleats adds fabric to the waist area of the pants and thus, creates the illusion that you are carrying more weight. Pleats actually make you look heavier. (Preach, brother, preach.)
If you are carrying around a little extra heft after the holidays, and are worried you won’t have enough fabric with a flat front to maneuver, start by adding some fruit to your diet. Then buy your flat fronted dress pants one size above your normal size and have the waist taken in an inch or two. This will allow more room for your upper thighs to move around and prevent any bunching. However, do not buy flat front pants that hug your thighs, you want the pant to float over them. This isn’t the 70’s and you aren’t John Travolta, so you don’t want to look like you’re wearing bell bottoms.
If you’re too nervous about going all flat front, many designers (such at Cole Haan) have taken to making pants with a single pleat in them. But wouldn’t it be easier to just man up and get flat front pants? Nine times out of ten, they look better.
One last thing, before you leave the tailor, check the pockets. A bad tailoring job will leave the pockets flaring out, and you don’t want that. Pockets should rest snug over your hip.
Belle: Pleated pants, you are officially on notice. Next time, you get faux pas-ed.