Pleats Please or Flat-Fronts Forever?

Pleats Please or Flat-Fronts Forever?

We can say with some certainty, that the vast majority of the trousers you've ever owned are of the flat-fronted variety. It makes perfect sense - flat-fronted trousers are easy to wear and style, and make up the vast majority of the trouser market. But maybe we've all been blue-pilled into accepting the hegemony of the flat-fronted trouser? What if there is an alternative? Enter the pleated trouser...

But first of all, let's just be clear... we love flat-fronted trousers just as much as anyone else, and we make tonnes of different styles every year. But if all you've ever worn is flat-fronted trousers, maybe you're missing out on the sartorial treat that is the pleated trouser?

What Exactly Are Pleats?

Pleats, or vertical folds in the fabric, originally served a practical purpose when they were first introduced to trousers, allowing for greater ease of movement for physical labourers due to the roomier shape around the hips, but eventually that evolved from utilitarian necessity to a hallmark of elegance and sophistication, most notably popularised by the Duke of Windsor in the early 20th century.

Pleats are generally described as having two main types: forward and reverse. Forward pleats are typically regarded as being English, opening inwards towards the fly seam, while reverse pleats open outwards and are often called Italian pleats. Single pleats are the norm but double pleats have also become increasingly popular in sartorial circles since they look quite dramatic and flamboyant.


What's The Point Of Pleats?

As we mentioned above, pleats came about because of the necessity for comfort. When you sit down, or if you're constantly bending at the waist, your thighs and hips naturally flatten out. So the addition of extra fabric helps to facilitate this, with the pleats allowing for a certain amount of expansion when you sit. I'm sure that we've all bent down at some point wearing quite fitted flat-fronted trousers and wondered if the seams would spare our blushes. Well, pleats nullify that risk!


Who Should Wear Pleats?

Generally speaking, single pleated trousers will suit almost everyone. Double-pleats are a different matter, especially for skinny guys. That's because the excess fabric around the hips and seat can look baggy and poorly fitted, even if the waist is a good fit. Then there's also the aesthetic reason to wear pleats - those sharp creases add something different to your look. At Oliver Spencer, we make our pleated trousers with single forward pleats so that the silhouette is still sharp while affording that little bit of extra room.

In Praise Of Flat-Fronted Trousers

All this blowing smoke up pleated trousers doesn't take away from the fact that flat-fronted styles are still the overwhelming favourites in terms of popularity. They are the norm after all, and so easy to wear. We slip into our flat-fronted trousers without much thought, while wearing a pair of pleated trousers might require that little extra planning. We also have so many more flat-fronted styles to choose from, and with myriad silhouettes to boot, from cropped styles to wide-leg options, so it's a given that they should make up the bulk of our trouser rotation. We produce quite a braod variety of flat-fronted styles at Oliver Spencer: our fishtail trouser, so-called because of the notch at the back of the waistband, is the smartest of the bunch, having a clean taper down to the ankle; the drawstring trouser is the everyday straight-leg option, great with just about everything you could throw at it, and super comfortable to boot; the judo trouser is another perennial style but with a more contemporary silhouette. It's a modern cargo pant cut slightly cropped and with a tapered finish, while the new William trouser is the same shape but does away with the thigh pocket. So whether you prefer pleats or not, you'll find a tonne of options to suit your personal style.


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