As I was doing the research for this article it struck me that this debate has been happening on the internet for at least 10 years. Most of that writing focuses on what’s in or out of fashion but the true secret to choosing between pleated pants or flat-fronted pants is choosing the pair we feel most comfortable in. Being happy and confident in the clothes we are wearing is the ultimate secret to style.
Having said that, there are some big differences between these two types of trousers. The number one difference is the pleat. Pleats are folds in a fabric that are stitched permanently in place. In men’s pants these folds are designed to allow more room around the hips and waist, especially when sitting. Pleated pants also tend to have a higher rise than flat-front pants which means they have a bit more room in the crotch.
The biggest problem with pleated pants is all the extra fabric that tends to billow if the pants don’t fit properly. The extra fabric can make us appear shorter than we are and also make us look like MC Hammer in a business suit. One way to counter this billowing effect is to weigh the pant legs down with cuffs. The extra fabric allows the pants to drape more naturally. The benefits to pleated pants are a greater freedom of movement and more room to put things in our pockets without unsightly bulges.
The biggest problem I’ve had with flat-front pants is not enough room. The flat-front tends to present a more attractive profile but they do so at the cost of pocket storage and freedom of movement. The lower rise means we have to wear flat-fronts lower or risk an unpleasant pinch. Because of all this, it’s just as important for our flat-fronts to fit properly as it is for our pleated pants.
Pleats have gone in and out of fashion over the past 100 years but the same principles of style remain constant: wear something that flatters; wear something that fits. If we’ve got those two covered, we won’t have to worry about anything else.
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