The Skinny on Pleats

In a recent post describing her latest ridiculously high standard (her term–they sound fair enough to me), Jen recounted some shortcomings of a suitor. These included the following crimes:

-HORRIBLE Kisser. Like, worst I�ve ever encountered. Sad but true. Although he can, Man should not kiss with (stiff lips and) tongue alone. Picture if you will (or don�t if you�d prefer not to): open mouth, seal it with other open mouth, swirl tongue around while leaving lips completely still. Drooling ensues.

-He wore pants with pleats. PLEATS!

-Goofy teeth! (Not horribly goofy, but I’m strangely hyper-sensitive about teeth.) For Christ’s sake, your father is a doctor! Don’t tell me you couldn’t have had braces when you were younger!

It’s that middle one that threw me. Pleats are verboten? Why didn’t I get the memo? I know I’m sartorially-challenged, but this had me really worried. Happily, Jen clarified in a later post:

The thing with pleats is that they add extra fabric to to the front of your thighs. If they’re not able to lie absolutely flat from waist to mid-thigh, they’ll just pucker and pooch out and look silly. This means that if your beer-gut prevents you from actually wearing your pants on your natural waist, or means that your body does not have a flat surface from navel to crotch, you can NOT wear pleats.

I actually thought pleats were designed for people with beer guts, in order to give them, you know, some more breathing room. But what do I know?


  1. Darren Darren Darren.

    Have you not been watching TLCs “What NOT to Wear”?

    Have you not noticed that pleated pants are the domain of Chambray button down shirt wearing, used car salesmen?

    Do you not enjoy havng the boys strapped in nice’n’tight?

    Puurrlleeeeze, rent Dirty Dancing, have good long look at Patrick Swayze (is that how you spell it?) and ask yourself.

    Do I really want to be part of that?

  2. Darren,
    You’re wrong and right. Pleats are verbotten and have been for a couple of years. Lack of pleats, like certain bicep tattoos, and chest waxing, were for a while a good measurement of a man’s hipness/gayness. But like everything, straight men eventually catch on, and have stopped wearing pleats. You were very wrong to be so slow on the uptake.
    But you are right, in that pleats are for fat people. Source:
    Globe and Mail, RUSSELL SMITH (A better fashion guru was never born)
    Saturday, March 5, 2005
    “The disappearance of pleats on the most fashionable of suit trousers in the late 1990s was cause for concern for most men over the age of 25. Flat-fronted trousers look slick, like Sean Connery in early Bond movies, if you have the trim silhouette of an athlete; if you have even a normal swelling in your middle, the flat front can make you feel like a wrapped pear.”

  3. I’ve heard some people say that pleats are good for those with less-than-stellar midsections, but according to all the various clothes-makeover shows like “What Not To Wear” and “Queer Eye”, they say no, for the love of God, no. I guess they’d argue with Russell Smith on that.

    I just find them dorky to look at. There are better trousers out there, even for the beer gutted.

  4. There’s a quick way to check this: in general, expensive (or even moderately priced), fashionable trousers from stores like Zara or even Gap lack pleats. Cheap ones from Superstore, Wal-Mart, or Zellers have pleats.

    I don’t know _why_, since by any objective measure pleats should be more expensive to manufacture—but it is quite possible to find pants with four or five sets of pleats at low-end stores (or in the old-guy suit department at Sears of the Bay), when no middle-aged or young guy should be wearing them.

    The trend right now is for high-end trousers to lack even a single pleat front and back, being entirely flat-legged, like jeans. And while I have a bit of gut, that style looks fine on me.

    Anyway, you should watch “What Not to Wear” (Fridays, 9 pm, TLC), since it gives those of us without instictive or learned fasion sense a good crash course in not looking like a clothesfool.

  5. I just looked, and happily my wardrobe is nearly pleat-free. I guess the fashion world was taking care of me without my knowing.

  6. Derek-the thing that makes the more expensive brands more expensive, other than fabric, is the cut. It’s more expensive to make a well-cut garment (but oh so worth buying one). Pleats can be a little imprecise. Flat front needs to be more exact to hang appropriately.

    Darren-all the fashionable beer guts are falling above the waist-band these days; ) Of course, there’s the muffin top phenomenon to deal with, but let me just say that a good tailor can do wonders. Just say no to pleats.

  7. Oh…pleats, even the word itself makes me cringe. I agree, men (or women) should not wear pleats. Even worse than pleated pants, PLEATED SHORTS. Ugh.

    Let me tell you about The Pleated Shorts Incident. I was dating this guy last summer, and I wasn’t too sure about him. He was nice enough, but I didn’t feel much of an attraction. One day he came over to my house. When he walked in the door, I saw that he was wearing yet another plaid collared shirt (almost every shirt he owned was plaid) and white *pleated* shorts with, god forbid, a black belt. I knew right then and there he was not the guy for me. What kind of person wears pleated shorts? It’s so not necessary. Call me shallow, but if I’m not attracted to a guy because of how he dresses, it’s game over. Every once in a while my girlfriend and I will recount TPSI and have a laugh.

    I suppose the whole thing was made even more funny for us because later that night this guy and I had a conversation about children, with me ranting and raving about how bratty kids are and that I never wanted to have even one of my own and him telling me that he wanted to be “a father.” Definitely not a good match!

  8. Pleats (and I do have a suit with pleated pants) are really dependent on the fabric, the pattern, colour and your suit jacket to name a few. The type of pocket you have in your pants is also something to consider. Any good tailor will give you sound advice about what options are available or not. I think fashion is great but I personally couldn’t care what someone else considers in or not if that is what I want to wear. Anyone can see when someone looks like they need a good tailor and there are quite a few that really need a good tailor.

    If you keep your ties long enough they will eventually come back be they wide or thin. Brogues (wingtips) seem to never fall out of favour. Hathaway shirts (hard to find now) are the best for button down shirts – one reason being their buttons only have three holes and are sown properly.

    Two things creep me out though, some beer belly in a speedo, black socks and sandals. People who wear running shoes with black socks. Did you keep your duffle coat, they’re back, aren’t they?

  9. You can buy pants at Superstore? I am glad I live in my downtown oblivion.

    Pleats are fashion suicide. However, I once had a date who showed up in spandex for a family function. Needless to say, he’s no longer around.

  10. Forget it — you’ll have to pry my pleated pants out of my cold, dead fingers. I don’t care what the fashionistas may say, I’m sticking to the pleats. They’re just more comfortable.

    People who wear socks with sandals, though, will still die a horrible fashion death.

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