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The Pleating Truth?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was wondering how say a single pleat, double pleat, or reverse pleats affect the way trousers look and hang. Do certian style favor certain body types? Or with the right tailoring do the all work for everyone? What other differences do different pleat make in the way trousers look. Are certain pleats more formal and/or should be worn at a certain time (season) or with a certain type of material?
post #2 of 14
I don't think there are any formality issues associated with trouser pleats, with perhaps a couple of exceptions, e.g., triple pleats and box pleats are more "fashionable" and less classic and thus perhaps less formal. The main purpose of pleats is to add fullness to the hip and upper thigh area.  The pleats allow that fullness to contract when you are standing, thus helping the trousers maintain a slimmer line, but expand when you are sitting, adding comfort.  Also, well cut pleated trousers can enhance the silhouette by making a guy's buttock and upper thigh muscles look bigger and more robust than they perhaps really are. The main differences between single and double pleats are historical (double are more prevelant and more classic) and functional (two pleats provide more fullness).  Double (two on each side) generally look better to my eye. As to what looks best on whom, herewith my personal opinions: Four inward facing pleats (two on each side; often called "English pleats") look best on high rise (waist or above) trousers worn with suspenders.  These flatter the tall and thin especially.  They tend to made by (you guessed it) the English, and RTW makers trying to ape Savile Row style. Four outward facing pleats ("reverse pleats") look better on lower-rise belt trousers.  They are more slimming than English pleats and better maintain the transition from pleat to front trouser crease.  These are especially popular with the Italians. Flat front trousers look best on the very thin or the very stout.  If the former, then hip rise and cut lean and almost straight.  If the latter, then waist-rise, cut super-full and tapered.  Flat front trousers used to be a staple of the American sack suit.   These days they are more of a fashion item.
post #3 of 14
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Flat front trousers used to be a staple of the American sack suit. These days they are more of a fashion item.
Going straight from trad to fashionable.
post #4 of 14
So, pleats will make a fuller person seem slimmer from the front, yet allow the person more comfort when sitting down. Perhaps I should get pants with pleats since my thighs are much larger than my oh so thin lower leg... very unbalanced. How should the trousers be cut to make a person a person's bum seem less, erm, pronounced when seen from the side? Perhaps having the trousers cut wider sideways? But then the overall legs will look full as a result, but my lower legs are not full... What can be done to produce a reasonable balance? Thanks, WJTW
post #5 of 14
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So, pleats will make a fuller person seem slimmer from the front
Reverse pleats will, to a point, I think.  The really, really stout persons is, I believe, better off without pleats, but with waist-rise (or slightly above) trousers that are full enough to hang more or less straight from the belly before beginning their taper.
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Perhaps I should get pants with pleats since my thighs are much larger than my oh so thin lower leg
From that description, I would say that pleats would help you.
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How should the trousers be cut to make a person a person's bum seem less, erm, pronounced when seen from the side? Perhaps having the trousers cut wider sideways? But then the overall legs will look full as a result, but my lower legs are not full... What can be done to produce a reasonable balance?
Yes, this is a real pickle.  I'm not sure there is any trick that will simply "solve" this problem.  Perhaps some tailor can cut a taper that perfectly masks the rear without any "contour" over the buttocks, and that tapers diagonally in a more or less straight line to the cuff.  I'm not sure that's possible, and I'm skeptical that it would look good in any case.  I prefer the trouser taper to have some curve, for one thing; for another, I suspect that method would result in a taper that is too dramatic, and a cuff that is too small.
post #6 of 14
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As to what looks best on whom, herewith my personal opinions: Four inward facing pleats (two on each side; often called "English pleats") look best on high rise (waist or above) trousers worn with suspenders.  These flatter the tall and thin especially.  They tend to made by (you guessed it) the English, and RTW makers trying to ape Savile Row style. Four outward facing pleats ("reverse pleats") look better on lower-rise belt trousers.  They are more slimming than English pleats and better maintain the transition from pleat to front trouser crease.  These are especially popular with the Italians.
Manton, do you think reverse pleats angle out less (away from the body toward the viewer) on individuals, especially the very stout? It seems that way to me, but you are the expert.
post #7 of 14
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Manton, do you think reverse pleats angle out less (away from the body toward the viewer) on individuals, especially the very stout?
If they are cut correctly, reverse pleats will stay closed and the fronts will lie flat. That "panel" that runs between the two inner pleats (encompassing the fly) should be flat and smooth to have the full slimming effect. It is arguable harder to cut forward pleats so that they stay closed, and they certainly look worse when they gape open. But I think in a lot of cases the problem is simply that the trousers were cut with too low of a rise. Forward pleats need a higher rise than reverse pleats, I think.
post #8 of 14
I realize they are revered element of a fine pair of trousers, but I think that if you are younger (under 35) they are best avoided.  They look distinguished on an older gentleman, but on a younger one they come off as stuffy. Not that we should ever follow the advice of a female, but her vetoes might matter.  I have heard numerous younger women declaim on their hatred of the pleat.  It seems that if there is one thing in mens style that could be an immediate "turn-off" to the opposite sex, it may be pleats.   It may be the ones in cotton trousers that look particularly dowdy to girls though.     Such superficial and of-the-moment females may be also be the ones best avoided.   My mother, a lady of taste and elegance, doesn't mind if I have pleats on my trousers.
post #9 of 14
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It may be the ones in cotton trousers that look particularly dowdy to girls though.
Cotton chinos can't hold a crease. This is incidentally, the first I have heard of this phenomenon. Don't women have better things to worry about?
post #10 of 14
The women who think this are predominantly those living in the Banana Republic culture, where flat front pants and wild striped shirts with square toe shoes with 1.5" heels are the epitome of sexy. Women with real taste recognize that well-fitting pants are well-fitting pants -- at least in my experience. Personally, I prefer flat front pants for my odd trousers, but pleats with my suiting trousers. Why? First, I think pleated pants look better than flat fronts when wearing a tie. Second, I think that a shallow double pleat creates a better line between the coat and the pants -- at least for someone like me who is bigger on top than on the bottom.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
If they are cut correctly, reverse pleats will stay closed and the fronts will lie flat.  That "panel" that runs between the two inner pleats (encompassing the fly) should be flat and smooth to have the full slimming effect.  It is arguable harder to cut forward pleats so that they stay closed, and they certainly look worse when they gape open.  But I think in  a lot of cases the problem is simply that the trousers were cut with too low of a rise.  Forward pleats need a higher rise than reverse pleats, I think.
You are the man.
post #12 of 14
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Don't women have better things to worry about?
Don't men too have better things to worry about?
post #13 of 14
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(Manton @ April 15 2005,22:50) Don't women have better things to worry about?
Don't men too have better things to worry about?
Well, you've got me there ...
post #14 of 14
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Personally, I prefer flat front pants for my odd trousers, but pleats with my suiting trousers.  Why?  First, I think pleated pants look better than flat fronts when wearing a tie.  Second, I think that a shallow double pleat creates a better line between the coat and the pants -- at least for someone like me who is bigger on top than on the bottom.
[quote] I also prefer pleats under suits. When I think of the coat as creating an upright cylinder, I like the extra fullness in the thigh of a pleated pant to fill the space below the coat. Maintaining the continuous line between the coat and pant reinforces the visual advantage, the unity, of the both pieces being the same cloth. The effect is less important with an unmatched sport coat and pants. But it is emphasized when a coat with a flaired skirt sits like a pagoda atop narrow pants.
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