Men’s Pants: Pleated or Flat

This post originally appeared on Dawn Stanyon’s professional fashion and personal branding blog Professionality. Her images, content and advice will be cross-posted here occasionally, enjoy!

Poor men. Just now when they are used to flat-front pants, fashion swings back to pleats. My advice: Don’t follow fashion: have style. If you look amazing (as many men do) in flat-front pants, please wear them. They do make most men look slimmer hipped and just neater. But if you are a heavier or hippier man - and just feel more comfortable in pleats - please wear the pleats. A conservative two-button jacket suit with pleated and cuffed pants is a wardrobe standard. As long as it fits you like a glove, it’s going to look great.

Poor men. Just now when they are used to flat-front pants, fashion swings back to pleats.

My advice: Don’t follow fashion: have style. If you look amazing (as many men do) in flat-front pants, please wear them. They do make most men look slimmer hipped and just neater.

But if you are a heavier or hippier man – and just feel more comfortable in pleats – please wear the pleats. A conservative two-button jacket suit with pleated and cuffed pants is a wardrobe standard. As long as it fits you like a glove, it’s going to look great.

2 Comments

  1. Mr. KBJ

    Dear Emily Post Professionals,

    I really appreciate the advice on pleated, cuffed vs. flat front Men’s business pants and attire. But I still need some clarifications.

    In the early 2000’s, I was a marketing executive and while I was in those levels of position, since the late 1990’s, I have always worn Designer Suits: pleated pants and cuffed pant legs.

    However, due to the recession, my industry failed and I retreated to a side-skill, which is cabinet-making, picture framing and carpentry, which was a jeans and t-shirt job every day. Equally, it was tiring work for a healthy but 51 year old man.

    Now, with the economy much better, I am trying to re-enter the corporate world. But the question remains: what does a 51 year old man wear in Atlanta, while looking for meaningful employment? Will I be a joke if I have all of these “Classic” pleated & cuffed (in my era) designers suits altered to fit?

    I must have a dozen plus of Ralph Lauren, Evan-Picone, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior or Joseph & Fleiss, worsted wool, pleated front and cuffed pants suits worth thousands of dollars. I usually finished these suits off with a pair of capped toe (Oxford style) or wing-tipped shiny pair of black leather shoes.

    Now, progressing through the 2nd Decade of the 21st Century, I am in the process of evaluating my wardrobe. Which is 95% Pleated and Cuffed Pants and a mix of 2 and 3 button jackets.

    I don’t know where to spend my money? Starting from scratch and buying less expensive suits or altering the dynamite collection that I already own?

    I am sure that there are thousands of middle aged men like me with a closet full of expensive suits. In our heads, I think we say this attire says to the young men and women with whom we are competing..”Hey, old man, you look like a G-Man from the 40’s”. It’s intimidating. I’m mean really.

    I spent a life time and a fortune building a wardrobe for an extremely high level of corporate success. It benefitted me greatly from 1985 to 2009. The then entire business strata collapsed.

    I’m just not that old, and certainly wiser than my college aged children, but how a man looks is the equivalent of how a man feels.

    I know I must be blathering, but I know many men in my situation. Pleats and cuffs or flat fronts and straight legs?

    I have to make an investment and I do not know where to put it in my wardrobe expenses.

    You all are great; I need a confidence building answer, Please.

    Best regards
    KBJ

    10 Years ago I always got excessive compliments on my suits and appearance. Now, I just don’t know what to do. I loved all those suits.

    Are the still in style at all?

    • Elizabeth

      This is a great fashion question, but unfortunately etiquette isn’t so codified and specific that it can answer it. I would recruit a good friend who is very fashionable to give you their honest opinion. Or, you might seek the advice of a good tailor (who refurbishes AND makes new suits) to see if your old ones can be modernized. it is true that everything old becomes new again, so your suits may come back into fashion, and they certainly sound like they are good quality. However, you also don’t want to parade around in decades-old fashion if it makes you stick out in a negative way. Straight legs and no cuffs certainly are the norm now. But again, it probably also depends on your industry.

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