Different Styles of Men’s Trousers

Whether they’re tailored, flared, chinos, drainpipe, flat front or pleated, the variety of men’s trousers in both casual and formal fashion can be a little overwhelming.

Rather like meat, when it comes to trousers everyone has their favourite cut and chances are that this has changed several times over the years as trends come and go. ‘70s teens would have worn flared trousers to death over that particular decade, while go back further to the Mad Men period of the early ‘60s and you’d see clean, slim and well-tailored silhouettes dominate in the white collar sector. Slightly earlier in the 1950s, the pleated trouser was all the rage. For the last decade, pleated trousers have been rather a no no, with much written against the looser style and the domination of ‘slim is best’ flat front, tailored trousers has been more or less total. Perhaps Mad Men (which first aired in 2007) had something to do with this, although the thought of men aspiring to mimic the likes of Roger Stirling is a little unsettling.

Anyway, here we are now in 2016 with looser pleated trousers returning to the scene, leading to a competition between them and flat fronted (Mad Men) style trousers for most popular office wear fare.

Let’s take a look at the argument for both.

The case for pleats

Fashionistas can never make their mind up on the subject of pleats in men’s trousers. One year they’re about as fashionable as Donald Trump and the next year they’re capable of making any man as desirable as Don Draper! What does help in the argument for pleats is understanding their attributes and history.

  • This generation doesn’t have pleat prejudice, so there’s a case for a tabula rasa in their judgement. In other words pleated trouser-related fashion crimes have passed their statute of limitations!
  • The function and feel of pleats is eternal, whereas trends come and go. Pleats are the small folds in the fabric that have been permanently set in place, appearing as little vertical lines from the waistband to crotch area. The folds offer extra flexibility and allow for the maintenance of a smooth draped appearance with no wrinkling when sitting and standing.
  • Pleats offer a very handy fitting guide. If the trousers are too tight around the thigh area the folds will open when you stand straight. The only time they should flex is upon sitting or stretching out your legs.
  • All this flexibility gives extra comfort.

Leaving aside trends and fashions, the only men who will arguably not feel the benefit of pleated trousers will be very tall, slim men as pleats have a tendency to make their trousers look too loose. This disadvantage is, however negated when worn as part of a full suit, as the jacket will hide the area in which the perceived ‘looseness’ is evidenced.

The case for flat fronts

  • Flat front pants are possibly the better choice for the über style conscious among men, as they are a timeless classic as well as ticking retro style boxes
  • The lack of pleats renders the silhouette in a smooth, straight shape, which gives a stunning compliment to the slim and trim. Unfortunately it’s also unforgiving for those with a bit of a belly.
  • Well-tailored flat front trousers look great a bit loose on the waist and worn just below the hip bones – in line with modern trends.

As you can see, the case is not clear cut – the jury would, perhaps reach a split decision! Hopefully, however, reading the notes you’ll be able to make an informed decision which of the two main styles would suit you best.


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