When to Wear Pleated Pants (Mostly Never)

There are many wonderful types of pleats in human clothing. Men benefit from almost none of them. Women, they get several specific varieties of pleat, nearly all of them terrific. Cute little knife-pleat skirts that go whoosh! Dramatic dresses that bulge and shrink! Men get, what — an attractive way for shirt arms to narrow as they approach the cuff. Or a nice way to gather and “box” fabric just above the middle of your shoulder blades. Also, zzzzz.

Worse, pleats also come to harm us. The most odious affliction of mens’ clothing is the reverse pleat at the front of many of your man-pants. Oh wow, you might not know what you look like, let me show you!

And that’s if you’re LUCKY. Like yes, you should be so lucky to look like Richard Gere on the cusp of the 80s.

But mostly you’ll look like Seth Rogen circa 2006. Or like the bad guys in Beverly Hills Cop. Or worse, Judge Reinhold. I mean, even Gordon Gekko lost the pleats between movies.

Pleats say: I am an affable man! I like being casual! I am gently prone to both intellectual softness and the comings and goings of physical flab! They mostly say “I have given up.”

And every once in a while, if I may be frank, they do good things to your… front areas.

But really? We can all make a pact together to never ever wear pants with pleats, unless they are incredibly expensive and over-stylized and intentional.

You may have noticed that I singled out “reverse” pleats for particular scorn. Reverse pleats are what you’re used to, most likely: they “face” the pockets. The fabric of forward pleats opens toward the fly. Forward pleats run the danger of making you look a bit hip-heavy! (Which is exactly what happens to Sean Connery here, although they’re also kinda cool-looking suit trousers.) And they are old-fashioned, and maybe that’s what you want to be.

Also if you would like to know how sophisticated and fascinating the making of pleats is, here is some very cool information about pleating, including PLEAT MOLDS! This is actually helpful if you like to talk to ladies and have ladies like you, because, as you may have noticed, people in general like compliments. So if you can say “Wow, that is a groovy dress, love the pleats,” ladies may be like “hello, man who notices things.” (Don’t do this: “That nice dress has fabulous plissé pleats,” unless you are in a bad romcom where you are pretending to be gay to get the girl, which REALLY DOESN’T WORK, so just don’t ever get yourself cast in that romp.)

And finally? Sad news! This is the penultimate installment of our absolutely life-changing column on how men should dress in and around the office. Why don’t we end with some questions for next time? Send me a private email communication and I’ll answer your questions next time, IF YOU DARE. (I mean, I’ve already been doing lots of individual counseling on this topic, for which many of you throwing summer weddings should be very grateful, as I’ve vastly improved the visual quality of your guests.)

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