If men would solely dress to feel comfortable, their closets would without a doubt favour the presence of pleat front pants. But since appearance these days is nearly everything and a slick, polished, composed image is worth a thousand words if nothing else, a lot of thought has been but lately into deciding if the pleat front pants are indeed in fashion for spring 2013 or just another unfortunate blast from the past.
Based on the 1970s and 1980s looser fashions, the pleated pants for men marked a return close to the end of 2011, when the runways pointed towards a relaxed sense of tailoring. With designers like Vivienne Westwood and Dolce & Gabbana betting on loose tailoring through the thighs and the crotch, the look gained perspective and slowly evolved into a trend. For spring 2013 this same trend achieved a subtle quality with its modern rendering highlighting nearly invisible pleats, still feeling extreme at times.
Pleat front pants: a classic revival
Spreading their influence across centuries of impeccable tailoring, the pleated pants have been long time favourites, helping define what a traditional and classic tailored suit is all about. However, this season the pleats for men are being seen as merely functional, not stylish. Whether modern or not, Ralph Fiennes’ impeccable image in Skyfall, donning a sleek three-piece suit and a matching authoritative attitude is a perfect example of very good cut, where the mix of a high waist and pleats seems rather timeless.
Ralph Fiennes in Skyfall
Pleated pants: defining elements
While hard to pull off without looking sloppy or seemingly belonging to a different era, pleat front pants might still be worth giving a chance. Taking into consideration your body type, age and general aesthetic this season the pleat pant style can feature:
- Mostly reverse pleats (meaning the pleats open towards the pockets)
- Either single folds or double folds, adding room and width to the silhouette of the pant
- A casually tailored waistline, extremely high at times
- Cropped ankles
- Both a slim and a wide, loose silhouette
- Occasionally even a drop crotch
Pleat front pants on the runway at Christian Lacroix S/S ’13
The look: between vintage and modern
From traditional to modern, and from classic back to a vintage aesthetic, the pleated trouser look envisioned this season leaves plenty of room for interpretation. If some of the styles and cuts are easier to pull off, the runways didn’t fell short on extreme examples as well, ones that aren’t particularly flattering nor wearable. Unless of course, you see yourself as a fashion-forward kind of guy, up for the challenge.
If you’re looking to add a trendy quality to your business outfits, a pair of pleat front pants might just work. Be careful not to overstep the boundaries by keeping away from drop crotches, exaggerated high waists or loose tailoring. Pursue a clean, slim silhouette instead and focus on neutral colors and classic fabrics. Balance the pants with slick button-downs, lightweight or silk satin bomber jackets and don’t give up on the tie. As ultimate accessories, opt for a cool, oversized carry-all and a pair of sunglasses.
Pleated pants on the runway at Z Zegna S/S ’13 and Burberry Prorsum S/S ’13
Modern versus Vintage
If you’re looking for a light take on the trend, in order to appear modern but still elegant, search for pants featuring very subtle pleats, which often result in a very flat front. They are the easiest to pull off and can look effortless with the right styling. For a casual meeting or for a relaxing activity, pair the pants to a tucked shirt and sweater combo, add a pair of loafers and a quirky pair of sunglasses.
Better left for the runway, but capable of translating to an intriguing and unconventional look on the streets, Lanvin’s vintage take on the pleated pants feels rather extreme. With the right amount of attitude and a flawless punk styling, they can look luxurious and quirky enough to work, but still by a long shot.
Pleated pants on the runway at Hardy Amies S/S ’13 and Lanvin S/S ’13
Seeing how this fashion trend refuses to go away completely, representing a steady and traditional option because of the comfortable fit, it is important that when/if you do decide to wear pleated pants, make sure they feel flattering enough and if they do, don’t give up until finding the appropriate silhouette. Giorgio Armani’s wider silhouettes are another example of extreme tailoring, appearing hardly youthful or modern, sacrificing the appearance for comfort.
Pleat front pants on the runway at Giorgio Armani S/S ’13
Pleated pants for men: picture inspiration
You’ve seen some of the styles the spring 2013 runways had to offer – be they flattering or not quite so much. If you want more styling inspiration and more examples to help you decide for yourself whether pleated trousers are for you, head to the gallery above. There you’ll find more pictures of how pleated pants were presented for spring.