Men’s pleated trousers guide

Plain or pleated trousers? This is one of many choices you can make when ordering a pair of made to measure trousers. Pleats are a common detail on many trousers nowadays but the fact is that it is not a new phenomenon and while it is a tasteful detail, they also have a functional advantage.

In this article, we will go through the possible design choices for men’s trousers in general and the choice of pleats in particular. What is it, what do they bring to the outfit and when should you go for single vs double pleats? We will also talk about side adjusters vs belt loops as well as the hem. 

What are pleats?

Pleats are, by the definition of the name, the sewn-on pleating that sits just below the trousers’ waistband in the front. The pleats follow the press folds which results in an extension of the press folds of the trousers. It is an extra detail that will enhance the overall impression of the trousers in the eyes of the viewer.

The pleated design is not only a nice detail for your trousers but they also serve a functional purpose. Pleats always mean that there is a little extra fabric over the hip area, which contributes to a little more room over the bodice. Thus, significantly higher comfort and movement are created in the trousers. For example, when you are sitting down, the pleats of the trousers tend to open up a little, which allows for some extra room and less stress on the fabric. It’s beneficial because in all cases you “grow” a little around your stomach and hips when you sit down.

Pleats are not a new phenomenon and have been around for many years. Some might even refer pleats to a classic or ”old” design. The reason it might be unfamiliar to some is because the ’slim fit’ has dominated the trends and fashion industry for many years. And as you well understand now that we have explained what pleats are, it’s not something that goes with a pair of skinny trousers. 

The standard choice for pleats is so-called ’outward pleats’ which means that the actual opening of the pleats is directed outwards towards the trouser pockets. You also have the option of choosing ’inverted pleats’, which instead means that the pleats’ openings are angled towards the fly off the trousers. Outward pleats are always more subtle than inverted as outward is not as visible.

When should I choose single pleats?

Single pleats are what we at Blugiallo tend to advocate the most. The reason? We really appreciate keeping our garments as subdued as possible. Single pleats are therefore the perfect choice for those who want to stand out a little from the crowd without taking over too much. 

With pleated trousers, you may want to choose a slightly higher waist and a slightly straighter silhouette in the trousers. When choosing single pleats in combination with a slightly higher trouser waist you will get a little extra room above the hip and crotch. Single pleats, in this case, will also result in you always having slightly longer legs in the eyes of others, which of course is fantastic to highlight. Pleated trousers are a great and tasteful detail if you want to level up your outfit a bit.

Single pleat with side adjusters

When should I choose double pleats?

Do you feel confident in your style and are eager on trying something new? Maybe the single pleat feels a little boring if it has been your choice for a long time. Then double pleats are the way to go. 

Unlike single-pleated trousers, double pleats, as can be deduced from the very name, have an additional fold. The second fold sits a little further towards the pockets of the trousers and is not in line with the press folds of the trousers.

Just as mentioned at the beginning of this article, pleats might be something that many people think of as an old design trend and historically speaking, it was double pleats that were the most common.

Therefore, double pleated trousers give a more classic impression, which is obviously preferable if you appreciate a very classic and, almost, retro look.

Since double pleats give a more classic look, it is therefore very nice to combine it with a slightly more generous cut in the trousers. However, it is very important to keep in mind that when choosing double pleats, it automatically gives you even more space over the seat and hips.

How should I combine pleats with other design options?

A rule of thumb to always carry with you when it comes to pleats is to choose them in all cases, apart from jeans. Regardless of whether you are looking at a pair of trousers for a suit or a pair of chinos, pleats are always preferred. Your pleats will not only fulfill a functional purpose, but they will also contribute to a significantly better overall image of the trousers. Of course, the trousers might seem a little more formal with pleats, but this is something that we actually think is beneficial. The area of use will increase significantly if you choose pleats and you can, for example, choose a suitable blazer or knitwear to tie your look together.

If you are looking for a pair of very formal trousers, our recommendation is to choose pleats, either single or double, in combination with side adjusters and a cuff of either 4 or 5 centimeters. The side adjusters is a nice detail and will contribute to a more tailored approach for your over all outfit. But as the name reveals they also have a practical purpose and makes it easy to adjust the waist of your trousers without affecting the look. Side adjusters are available in brass or metal.

If you want to wear a pair of slightly more casual trousers, opt for either side adjusters or cuff instead. This way you get a slightly simpler look. The choice of fabric is of course also important when creating a cohesive outfit and a pair of heavy cotton twill chinos is a perfect example of a casual but yet a well dressed pair of trousers. Design the chinos with belt loops and add a thin brown suede belt for a great look. If you choose a straight finish, you can combine the trousers with a pair of sneakers, which gives you a very relaxed and casual look.

Side adjuster in brass

When should I not choose pleats?

If you haven’t quite embraced the slightly more generous and straight cut of the trousers yet and instead feel more comfortable with a slimmer fit, we usually advise against pleats. 

Pleated trousers will, as mentioned before, contribute to some extra room over the hip area. If you prefer to have a slightly more slim fit, the pleats can create an unbalance in the overall silhouette. The option, if you still want to go with pleats, is to make the hip a little more narrow but the risk is that the pleats may tend to ’open up’ even when you’re just standing still and that will unfortunately ruin the clean silhouette throughout the trousers. With that said, embrace the more generous fit if you want to go with pleated trousers.