Style / August 2017

Cut Loose: Pleated, Wide-Legged Trousers

Wearing them has changed everything, and hunger for the wider-legged, pleated trouser aesthetic has taken over, writes our Fashion Editor-At-Large.

David Bowie showcasing his mastery of the pleated, wide-legged trouser during his The Stage Tour, in 1978.

Timothy Everest made me a pair of strides so good they’ve ruined other trousers for me. That’s the long and short of it; or rather the width and height. Wide, very high-waisted with band- and side-adjusters, turn-ups, and single, large, arching, inwardly facing pleats. Wearing them has changed everything, and hunger for this pleated trouser aesthetic has taken over. I can’t go back. A major part of my trews-rail is sitting redundant on the dock of the eBay. These seminal pleated, wide-legged trousers are actually part of a blisteringly cool double-breasted bespoke Everest suit, cut by the overtly talented Mr. Freddie ‘Natty Boy’ Neiddu, in a rich ochre, slubby Solbiati linen. It has such clout you could drop it during winter – which I did. The long coat initially steals the show, with acute peak lapels and a gorgeous drape, commanding a zoot-like presence. I’m never happier than when flowing and slouching about in its swathes of volume, both dressed up but street connected, too.

Busting this Everest suit in the heat of the Milan and Paris shows, I became aware that the trousers are actually potent game-changers when teamed jacket-less with either a silk-sateen Connolly shirt or a Sunspel vest and with crocodile Louis Vuitton Oxfords or unlined Gucci snaffles. It’s the proportion that’s the killer lick – small up top, big below. The height gives you a more compact-looking body (something I badly need). The volume lends an unhurried, fluid swagger – a refreshing mood reversal from the rigour and inhibited shuffle of narrow flat fronts.  The swish action gives your bowl a new buzz. To clarify, I’m dead keen on these pleats.

What’s changed? Well, fashion, really. Let’s not dress it up.

Trouser wise, low and flat seems common. It looks Liverpool-Street-bus-stop. It feels body-con-Billericay-Saturday-night-out. Pleats and volume channel next-chapter suave. Volume is hardly a breaking news trend – it’s already been out in fashion mags and press for seasons, but the first true-grit signs something’s shifted is when your old trouser styles feel offensively dated. Lean has prevailed since Hedi Slimane’s first Dior show in 2000. People forget this moment. As a result, skinny ruled the last decade or so, but now it’s being sidelined – made to feel silly. It’s almost as if fabric has been rationed, then suddenly lifted. Could this taste for generous helpings of cloth be to counter further economic uncertainty ahead? Who knows. Regardless, high, wide and pleated is the trouser antidote to skinny. It’s simple. But where to score the fix? Far trickier.

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Tom Stubbs

Fashion Editor-At-Large