Gone are the days when pants actually look good low and tight around the waist. One eventually realises they stretch the torso and shorten your legs making even the tallest man look stumpy. With the style movement, people are always looking for new details for their fit. Enter the pleated pant. Providing ultimate comfort with the sense of office corporate wear, the pleated pant represents the wave of old school style from the ’60s and ’70s.
What is a pleat?
To clarify any misconceptions you have on what a pleat is, it is simply a tailoring term for a fold. On trousers, it’s that tiny tuck of fabric between pocket and fly, which adds an extra inch of material to each leg, allowing for more leg room.
There are generally two kinds of pleats: forward (pointing towards the fly, typical of English tailoring) and reverse (folded towards the pockets, favoured by the Italians). Forward pleats are neater, reverse pleats create a looser shape.
The Do’s and Dont’s of pleated pants
- Do update them. Don’t go for the exact same pair you grandfather wore, its all about finding a modern take on an old style when reviving fashion.
- Don’t try to make them too casual. Even though you want modernise the style, it is best to stick to fabric that are designed for the style. Steer clear of going too casual with sporty or denim fabric as the overall look will appear ‘off’.
- Do show them off. The point of pleated pants is to show off the style so embrace the tucked in shirt – it will also give you the illusion of looking slimmer.
- Don’t pair with other oversized pieces. Despite the ongoing trend of ‘oversize’ basics, to avoid throwing off your proportions, if your pants are on the wider side, stick to slim-fitting kit essentials.
- Do discover your natural waist. If you’ve gone this far and realised you’re wearing your pants to low, then take a minute to discover where your natural waistline is. Don’t be afraid of the ‘harry-high-pants’ look – it will feel strange at first but is more flattering than ‘hip-huggers’.
How to style pleats
Follow these style tips below for a modern take on the old fashioned classic.
Dress them down
Pleats are traditional but not necessarily formal. “Think summertime bowling,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island’s Style Studio. “Tuck a Cuban collar shirt into a pair of straight-leg pleated trousers, layered over a white T-shirt.
Double the style
If you are keen on the trend, why not double up? “The double-pleat shows you are really embracing the trend,” says menswear editor Shane Kurup. “They look equally good with tailoring or a classic Breton-stripe tee.”
Fabricate some options
Steering away from the scratchy wool material you saw on your elders, it time to play it up with different fabrics. “The younger generation are wearing heavyweight cottons, or seersucker fabrics, to give modernity and interesting shapes,” says Spencer.
Experiment with footwear
The best pleated pants are slightly cropped therefore showcasing your shoes. “For a smarter look, wear them with a double-buckled shoe,” says Carl Tallents, head of brand at luxury retailer Flannels. To balance the extra fabric, try a chunky, commando-style sole.
Take them to the street
It’s no secret that hip-hop street style is dominating the fashion game right now, and it’s more acceptable than ever to pair classic pieces with a more relaxed approach. “A pair of box-fresh Common Projects sneakers can look great with pleated trousers and a bold-hued sweatshirt,” says Kurup.
As you do with the majority of your kit, change it up during the change of seasons. “Pleats work best in fabrics that have give in them, but still exude a little old-school luxury,” says Farnham. “In the summer, try a lighter fabric like a linen or linen-cotton mix. For the winter, flannel.
The best brands for pleated pants
An identity for staple basics, Cos are the best place to look if you want to keep it basic, classic and super affordable.
Another store for low-cost, high-quality basics, Uniqlo provide their style in a wide variety of colours so when you find a great style, its easy to stick with.
As a Swedish fashion house, Acne Studios are masters in tailored basics. With quality as well as forward-thinking design, the Stockholm based label allows for statement pieces for the bolder dresser.
Ami Alexandre Mattiussi
Known for their expert tailoring combined with subtle on-trend elements, there is a wide range of style and colours within the pleated pants category. From wide-leg styles to the more traditional design, the Parisian brand is one to look to.
The more contemporary diffusion line of the wold-wide fashion house, Emporio Armani appeals to a younger generation while still retaining its effortless elegance. On the more formal side of the spectrum, these pleated pants can be paired with button-down shirts and blazers for a more formal occasion.
Cover image: @soy_raka Instagram