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Who's Ready for the Return of Pleats?

The latest in an ongoing series in which we debate current style topics with an intensity that is—we'll be the first to admit—a little out of proportion to the actual significance of the issue at hand.

Photo: Getty images

What you'll be wearing next spring (if the fine folks at Louis Vuitton have anything to say about it)

On June 29th, 2011, at 5:03 PM, Tyler Thoreson wrote:
For a certain breed of guy, they never went away. For a younger contingent, they’re pretty much fashion suicide. I’m talking, of course, about pleated pants (or, as they were known in the eighties, “pants”), and they were everywhere on the runways of Milan and Paris. True, designers like Christopher Bailey, Kim Jones, and the Duckies have been pushing pleats off and on for a few seasons now, but the look seems to have hit critical mass (and volume) for spring ’12. Are you guys ready for the return of pleats?

On June 29th, 2011, at 5:26 PM, Christopher Wallace wrote:
Since the majority of my suits were made before I was born and scooped up from vintage stores, I am one of those guys for whom pleats never really went away. Last year I started cropping them so sharply that my traditional-leaning tailor, for whom pleats always accompany voluminous James Cagney-style slacks, almost broke up with me. ‘Course now volume–maybe best articulated by the Ferragamo show–is back and we’ll probably see Blockbuster Video uniforms on fashionistos by summer’s end. But, as much as I loved Ferragamo, and the trouser collections by Duckie, Bottega and others who are folding over some fabric of late, I’m still stuck in my mindset that pleats are old time-y, and should only be worn on vintage garb as a cheeky paean to a time gone by.

On June 29th, 2011, at 5:29 PM, Tyler Thoreson wrote:
But so are flat fronts. As I’ve always heard, the style was invented to save fabric during WWII.

On June 29th, 2011, at 5:30 PM, Jared Flint wrote:
Pleated pants are the main reason I hated semi-formal events as a child/teenager. And yet, way back in 2008 Acne and Fantastic Man combined to release The Gentleman’s Jean. It was slim-fitting, double-pleated, and went against what any other fashion magazine said. The look inspired me to purchase a pair of single pleated, slim fitting wool navy trousers. They remain my only pleated purchase (post-high school graduation) but they do require a bit of Scandinavian panache to pull off. So I say yes, but with severe reservations. And yeah Wallace, your pants are un-American.

On June 29th, 2011, at 5:37 PM, Christopher Wallace wrote:
The cleaner, leaner profile of flat fronts were a necessary evolution as we regained our collective sanity after the Gap generation. Maybe there is a rule in there: pleats are allowed only when some serious “volume” is involved?

On June 29th, 2011, at 6:05 PM, Jonathan Evans wrote:
I’m of two minds on this. On one side of things, I’m pretty sure the slimmer trouser with a small pleat—oftentimes single but I’ve seen double work—is the only pleated pant you’ll catch me in the foreseeable future. And with the slimmer silhouette, there’s actually something of an argument for the pleat: It gives just a wee bit more room when there’s very little to spare. Certainly nothing wrong with that. On the other side of things, something about the wildly voluminous pants of the Duckie ilk really does make sense with pleats.

On June 29th, 2011, at 6:43 PM, Tyler Thoreson wrote:
Okay. Time to stand up and be counted. Who among us will be seen in pleats within the next 12 months? The next 12 days?

I’ll start by raising my hand yes (to the first question). I’m ready to go there, provided I can locate a pair of pants that fits trimmer than the Girbaud chinos I was rockin’ back in ’89.

On June 29th, 2011, at 7:04 PM, Jonathan Evans wrote:
I’ll make a (minor) leap, and say it’s pretty likely I’ll have a pair of slim, pleated pants in the rotation before next summer hits. I think the last time I wore pleats was to an orchestra recital in grade school, so get ready to hear some Ode To Joy when it all goes down.

On June 29th, 2011, at 7:21 PM, Josh Peskowitz wrote:
Well since I’m freshly back from the collections in Europe, I suppose I should chime in here. I have the same aversion to quadruple pleated parachute as the next guy (or the next guy on this email anyway), but after seeing what I saw I think pleated pants are going to be a thing again. But that thing is a certain type of pleat that hews pretty close to what Evans is talking about. When you go to the Cucinelli showroom in Milan and they have a pair of ever-so-slightly pegged single pleat trousers (where the pleat transforms itself into the front crease of the trousers) it’s hard not to imagine yourself in them. Now this is specific as hell, and it is far from a “Pleats for life!” battle cry, but if there is more stuff like those—and by those, I mean pants that are slightly roomier through the thigh and then pegged through the leg, with a single pleat—out there, then you will see this guy wearing them.

On June 29th, 2011, at 8:18 PM, Jared Flint wrote:
Mark me as in.

On June 29th, 2011, at 8:23 PM, Christopher Wallace wrote:
I’m pretty sure I wore pleats last week and will definitely wear a pair of double pleated eighties Brook Brothers trousers by week’s end. So there.

What do you think–is the world ready for the return of the pleat? Leave a comment below.

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  1. Last week I tried on a pair of pleated Bill’s Khakis and almost immediately took them off and put them back due to my pleating phobia. Then my 22 year old girlfriend stopped me and said, “Wait, you aren’t getting those? You look like Gregory Peck.” She wins.

  2. Charlie says:

    I just can’t bring myself to follow this one. I remember being so glad when companies started trending away from pleated pants. I just find the way they tend to drape when sitting to be unappealing.

  3. Jason says:

    Maybe I’m just that “certain breed of guy” but I commission high-waist, double-forward pleated, braced trouser just as often as i do lower rise, flat-front, belted trouser. both models are fairly narrow. I agree that RTW pleated pants are almost a mistake but the so are RTW DB jackets and that doesn’t stop all the GQ disciples from getting the latest Hilfiger or Piombo renditions of said jacket.

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