• STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Pleats for n00bs

king_of_cups

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
13
Reaction score
8
I'm a novice, and have some questions about the function/context/appropriateness of certain types of pleats on trousers. Are forward pleats more formal than reverse? What about inverted pleats? How do I know how many pleats to go with, and what type?

(If this is covered somewhere in a resource that's already on here, I apologize -- I wasn't able to find it. Mods, please delete if this is redundant!)
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
21,925
Reaction score
53,498
The pleats you mentioned are generally used for different things. Inverted pleats are generally used for the back of coats and pockets. They help that space expand, and then contract when not in use. Allows for more movement.

I've seen inverted pleats on trousers, but it's rare (Armani used to use inverted pleats on trousers in the 80s). Mostly, trousers are made with forward or reverse pleats.

This is a forward pleat (sometimes called a regular pleat)

tumblr_o2kr3vorFf1qa2j8co2_r1_1280.jpg



This is a reverse pleat.

tumblr_o2kr3vorFf1qa2j8co1_1280.jpg



The forward pleat is more English. The reverse pleat is more Italian. Americans have been known to use both. Both are used to help the upper part of the trouser expand when sitting. It's for comfort. Additionally, when you wear a high waisted trousers, the line of a pleat can visually help break up the expanse of cloth that takes up the lap. When done well, it can also help draw a straight line from the waist down to the crease and then further down to the cuff.

Reverse pleats pull fabric from the side, so you get a flatter shape at the hips. Forward pleats pull fabric from the fly. That's why forward pleated trousers sometimes have a ballon shape like this ( )

If you're new to pleats, I find that a reverse pleat can be easier to wear. To my eye, it looks a little more like a flat front, especially if the pleats aren't too deep. Some people may find that forward pleats feel more formal, English, or old-fashioned. I have trousers in both and like them, but generally wear forward pleats with suits and reverse pleats with odd jackets/ trousers.
 

king_of_cups

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
13
Reaction score
8
The pleats you mentioned are generally used for different things. Inverted pleats are generally used for the back of coats and pockets. They help that space expand, and then contract when not in use. Allows for more movement.

I've seen inverted pleats on trousers, but it's rare (Armani used to use inverted pleats on trousers in the 80s). Mostly, trousers are made with forward or reverse pleats.

This is a forward pleat (sometimes called a regular pleat)

View attachment 1604016


This is a reverse pleat.

View attachment 1604018


The forward pleat is more English. The reverse pleat is more Italian. Americans have been known to use both. Both are used to help the upper part of the trouser expand when sitting. It's for comfort. Additionally, when you wear a high waisted trousers, the line of a pleat can visually help break up the expanse of cloth that takes up the lap. When done well, it can also help draw a straight line from the waist down to the crease and then further down to the cuff.

Reverse pleats pull fabric from the side, so you get a flatter shape at the hips. Forward pleats pull fabric from the fly. That's why forward pleated trousers sometimes have a ballon shape like this ( )

If you're new to pleats, I find that a reverse pleat can be easier to wear. To my eye, it looks a little more like a flat front, especially if the pleats aren't too deep. Some people may find that forward pleats feel more formal, English, or old-fashioned. I have trousers in both and like them, but generally wear forward pleats with suits and reverse pleats with odd jackets/ trousers.
Thanks so much for this! So having two (or more) pleats is just more of the same, then?
 

Phileas Fogg

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
3,319
Reaction score
2,876
Some say that forward pleats offer a cleaner line than reverse pleats. I don’t know; maybe. I think as long as the slacks are cut properly and the rise is regular, they shouldn’t be that different. I have a few reverse pleat trousers still and though I’ve completely done away with my other pleated trousers, I don’t recall that ever being an issue.

I think one or two on either side should be fine. I wouldn’t do more.
 

apShepard

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2014
Messages
25
Reaction score
19
Would you recommend high waisted trousers without pleats? I'm thin and feel like pleats just add bulk to my waist
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
21,925
Reaction score
53,498
Some say that forward pleats offer a cleaner line than reverse pleats.
It's the opposite. It's said that reverse pleats offer a cleaner line. As I mentioned above, forward pleats often have a balloon shape because of how they pull fabric/ volume from the fly and towards the hips. You then end up looking to the fold of the pleat as it swings out.

Example, this is a forward pleat. Notice how the line curves

0C008A9A-09DF-4E4A-9E2A-D3D42B4434B4.jpg
1D00ED8F-086E-4359-A2CA-2DBFA50CB369.jpeg


This is a reverse pleat. The line is cleaner

mEcCf6A.jpeg
bespoke-summer-tweed.jpeg


Would you recommend high waisted trousers without pleats? I'm thin and feel like pleats just add bulk to my waist
After comfort, I think it's mostly a stylistic thing. Some men wear high-waisted trousers that are flat front. I prefer them with pleats.
 
Last edited:

Phileas Fogg

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
3,319
Reaction score
2,876
It's the opposite. It's said that reverse pleats offer a cleaner line. As I mentioned above, forward pleats often have a balloon shape because of how they pull fabric/ volume from the fly and towards the hips. You then end up looking to the fold of the pleat as it swings out.

Example, this is a forward pleat. Notice out the line curves

View attachment 1604144View attachment 1604145

This is a reverse pleat. The line is cleaner

View attachment 1604146View attachment 1604155



After comfort, I think it's mostly a stylistic thing. Some men wear high-waisted trousers that are flat front. I prefer them with pleats.
yeah, I get it. To me they look about the same as far as the line goes.

It depends on how well the rest of the trouser is cut. I’m sure the introduction of pleats brings in a technical dimension into the tailoring that perhaps is not as urgent as with flat fronts.
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
21,925
Reaction score
53,498
yeah, I get it. To me they look about the same as far as the line goes.

It depends on how well the rest of the trouser is cut. I’m sure the introduction of pleats brings in a technical dimension into the tailoring that perhaps is not as urgent as with flat fronts.
Can't imagine getting a better cut trouser than these


tumblr_o2kr3vorFf1qa2j8co2_r1_1280 (1).jpeg
0C008A9A-09DF-4E4A-9E2A-D3D42B4434B4.jpg



Those are made by Steed. You still see that curve in the line. I use Steed for most of my tailored clothing and have trousers with the same effect.

Reverse pleats don't have the same issue.


mEcCf6A.jpeg
 

king_of_cups

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
13
Reaction score
8
Would you recommend high waisted trousers without pleats? I'm thin and feel like pleats just add bulk to my waist
I think that if your torso is *very* long and uninterrupted (unlike my squat torso with a beer gut), it can totally work, but even then, it's a lot of real estate without something topographical going on (as @dieworkwear pointed out, earlier). I think 70s vibes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
 

king_of_cups

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
13
Reaction score
8

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
21,925
Reaction score
53,498
I think pleats should also be part of the vibe or silhouette of the outfit.

For example, here are two coats from Napoli Su Misura. The silhouette is very clean, which is to say that there's not much drape in the chest. Everything looks tidy.

nsm.jpg



Same here. Fit is very clean and tidy. Little drape in the chest.

tumblr_p5odqrYTQF1qa2j8co4_r2_500.jpeg
tumblr_p5odqrYTQF1qa2j8co5_r1_540.png
51461916_760950324290956_4684275265092092637_n.jpeg
download.jpg
10-1-121.jpg



With something like that, I think you can go with or without pleats. Flat front, clean tailoring is a hallmark of classic American style. Natural shoulder Brooks Brothers type look.

I personally prefer a fuller chest, slightly extended shoulder, and pleated trousers. Notice the shape of the chest and extended shoulder line on these coats

tumblr_p5odqrYTQF1qa2j8co3_r2_1280.jpeg
51986102_2053401111446149_2642177912609995453_n (1).jpeg
5841.jpg
tumblr_inline_p5uozaOnkP1qhaans_500-1 (1).png



A coat like that almost screams out for pleated trousers.

That said, even with a drape coat, I often wear flat front trousers. Certain fabrics, such as moleskin and corduroy, look better as flat fronts to me. I also only wear flat front chinos. Example of a drape coat with flat front moleskin trousers:

2.jpeg



I believe Vox mostly wears his drape cut Steed sport coats with flat front trousers


ut .jpeg
tumblr_nd8g1x8mhI1rf1jvro1_1280.jpeg
tumblr_nlvqgnp4Jv1rf1jvro1_1280.jpeg
 
Last edited:

clee1982

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
23,714
Reaction score
11,784
I have old RL Dalton trouser that I tapered it's double or triple forward pleat, came as part of my Polo II suit, I thought I would hate it, but with jacket and braces I actually like it a lot. I don't know what your size, probably can find old RL Dalton on eBay for cheap and taper the leg if you want to just experiment if you like it without spending a lot.
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
21,925
Reaction score
53,498
For a while, I ran a secret Tumblr account collecting various quotes and passages about Charlie Davidson, the late, great owner of The Andover Shop. One of his quotes:




The guy was a real character and full of hilarious stories. As many here may know, he dressed Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and others during the heyday of Ivy Style. Was known for being a bit of a crank. But also a stalwart and flamekeeper for classic American style.

Charlie's preferred trouser style:

 

clee1982

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
23,714
Reaction score
11,784
have you check out Andover's website lately, guess everyone moves with the time they have things I wasn't expecting (dress sneaker, zip in liner sports coat, knit blazer)
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

Summer Loafers: With or Without Socks?

  • With socks

  • No socks


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
459,951
Messages
9,980,066
Members
207,833
Latest member
john405
Top