A life coach, whose practice specializes in helping get people employed, wrote me a note recently. It caught my attention to the point that if I had to write him back a free answer, I was going to post it to my blog for everyone’s benefit.
Here’s what he wrote:
“I wanted to ask you a quick fashion question to settle an argument I am having with a friend. It is my understanding that pleated pants for men are totally out of style including for suits. What’s your take on this?”
Okay, this is a loaded question. People just want to kill pleats off completely from menswear. And then menswear would totally start to take on a spirit of Communism where everything is just the same, like a civilian uniform. Not only do I think this is deplorable, but I must make a plea for variety and for individual choice that protects the democratization of clothes. After all, when we are faced with these variety of choices, no matter how many or how few, they help us to create style that is personal and fashion that is directional.
Let me make a plea for pleats.
Yes, it is true that pleats have diminished a great deal from our current style scene. The thought is that pleats add bulk to a man’s waistline or thighs and make him look bulkier or weightier. Well, who would want that? In general, the directional look in men’s fashion has been to slim everything down, including the silhouette of legs of pants, lapels of jackets, neckwear, and the overall fit of garments. Shirts are commonly offered in a slim fit. But these garments, collectively, fit someone who is, well, slim.
For many men, slim never was or will be their best descriptor. Even men who are in great physical shape may not ever be described as slim because of how their bodies are shaped.
When it comes to pants, whether as part of a suit or as a stand alone separate, a pleated style is totally acceptable, even by today’s standards. If your body needs a pleated pant, don’t be stuffing those legs and thighs [and other manly equipment] into pants that don’t give you the room. If you think my parenthetically written comment was a bit of TMI, just think of the visual TMI you may be displaying because your pants are too tight!
Pleats give a guy room to move when he’s walking, or for the inane act of crossing his legs. How can anyone discourage a person from wearing pleats just because many other people aren’t wearing them? Tall men, who are “all leg” can give a bit of visual break to their physique by wearing a pleated pant. And despite what people believe that short men should avoid pleats because they add bulk, I’m here to say that wearing the right pleated pant can look just as good. I am a short guy and have a mix of pleated and flat front pants in my personal wardrobe. Plenty of people who aren’t wearing them should be! Let me assure you, because I am commonly the judge of that, and then some!
Not all pleats are created equally, by the way. It’s not crucial to wear a mega pleated pant. You’ll see pleats that are double reverse, triple, inverted. Even a single pleat can be all that’s necessary. The thing about pleats is that they should add to a man’s overall physique, mold around the shape of the leg, and not add the undesirable visual bulkiness that has made people run away from pleats as if they were the latest fashion plague.
I am a fashion and style expert. And I wear well-chosen pleated pants. When working with my private clients, I would easily recommend pleats to them when it is appropriate for their personal style, too. To prove my support, and to make my plea, for pleats in men’s pants, I’m displaying a few photos of pleated pants from my personal wardrobe to illustrate that pleats can be current and in excellent taste. The first is from a made-to-measure suit where I chose to have pleats. The second was an off-the-rack pant that looks and fits me very well. And the third is a very fashion forward pant from a designer’s European runway collection.
Pleats can’t speak for themselves, but I hope that my answer has provided a strong enough defense to support them. As for the bet between friends, they will have to work it out from here.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.