Style / January 2018

How To Wear Pleated Trousers

The Rake gets deep into the fold of pleated trousers and showcases the many ways in which they can be worn.

Simon Crompton of Permanent Style wearing his bespoke Edward Sexton Hollywood Top trousers in ivory flannel with two forward facing-pleats, styled with a crocodile leather belt from Brunello Cucinelli.

Voluminous and elegant pleated trousers have had a bit of a mini-renaissance in recent years. Pleats were popular in the 1940s and 1950s and became fashionable in the 1970s and 1980s but fell out of favour for the slim, circulation-cutting fit that came about the following decade. The Rake has always championed the style, so even though trends are cyclical, we’re hoping this one will stay. So, allow us to venture deep into the fold and examine the difference between forward and reverse-facing pleats, their purpose and the many ways that one can wear pleated trousers.

Trousers cut with pleats became fashionable soon after World War I and were the norm amongst men from all walks of life. Many would argue that the ‘Oxford bag’, an exceptionally wide and full trouser that was a popular choice of students at Oxford University in the '20s, was the original pleated trouser but they’ve since evolved and have found their place in both formal and casual dress as well as vintage and modern styles. Favoured by tailoring and fashion houses due to the elegant lines and full silhouette that they create, no matter how wide or tapered, they’re also a fine demonstration of technical know-how. Forward-facing pleats are associated with the English style, whereby the hollow of the fold faces towards the fly and as a result makes for a slimmer silhouette. This is because the extra cloth is taken from the inside of the leg and the shadow of the pleats draws the eye inwards. Reverse-facing pleats are favoured by the Italians and appear baggier, because the extra cloth is taken from the outside of the hips and legs and casts less of a shadow in comparison to forward-facing pleats. There can be up to as many as three pleats on each side, however one or two are sufficient. As Chris Modoo, Creative Director of Kit Blake, aptly puts it: “I would avoid any more than two per side unless you are a massive Kid Creole & The Coconuts fan.”

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Benedict Browne

Benedict is The Rake's Associate Style Editor.