Pleated Pants vs. Flat Front Pants Debate

The pants debate over whether to go with pleated pants or flat front pants has go on for the better part of the last century. Pleats were ultimately placed squarely under “unfashionable” in favor of the trendier flat front.

Fashionable pants, both flat and pleated Fashionable pants, both flat and pleated

Many of the benefits that come with pleated pants cannot be found in flat fronts.However, there are many benefits to pleated pants, some which can’t be found in flat front pants. Not only are pleats more ample and comfortable, they also look great with any suit. However, flat front pants have made many comebacks and are usually on the cutting edge of fashion in one way or another. Here are both sides to the pants debate:

Pleated Pants

Anatomy of pleated pants The anatomy of pleated pants

There are people who think the pleated pants look is out of fashion and can make the wearer look frumpy and "dad-like". That isn't necessarily the case, as long as you follow these general rules of thumb:

A relaxed look is good but you don't want the pants to look baggy. Baggy pants come off a sloppy and can make the wearer's hips look bigger, especially when they're reverse pleated (pleats face the pockets). A good fit between tight and loose is ideal.
They should generally sit at the waist. The higher up they are, the older the wearer looks. They can be higher up for larger men or men with athletic builds, just as long as they don’t go higher than the navel.

Cuffs are discouraged especially for shorter men. They can make the legs look stout and shorter. Cuffs can be worn by taller, slender men if their pants are made of heavier fabric. Tall men should be wary about their middle section looking sloppy. A tighter fit should prevent that unkempt look from happening. If worn with a suit, wearing pleats with a jacket diverts attention from the middle. The cost of a tailored fit might be higher but it is worth the money in the end.

Flat Front Pants

flat front pants The slim fit flat front pants

Flat front pants have it easier since they come in go out of fashion. However, they can have some drawbacks as well. They draw attention to the midsection of anyone who isn’t slender, creating a really unflattering look. They can also leave little room up front and can limit mobility, especially when they come in a slim fit. Flat front pants might also look out of place in a business setting. Depending on the flat front pants, they are generally seen as business casual. Still, they can really help someone look taller and leaner, especially when cuffed on taller men. Flat front pants also have the benefit of looking very modern and tailored. However, as with pleats, a tailored fit to fix a few things does wonder to any pair of pants.
In the end, the pants debate boils down to preference, body type and use. For the larger built man, the man in motion or the businessman, a pleated pants look can work best. The fashionable, thinner, or more casual man can rock the flat front pants look. Check your options, try different styles and see what works best for you.