Pleats or Flat Front (Dress Pants)

To pleat or not to pleat, that is the question. The question on pleated vs flat front when choosing dress pants demands an answer.

Learning the differences between the two common dress pant styles will give you a sartorial advantage against the uninitiated. Plus, it will prevent you from committing a style blunder in public. Let’s explore more.

Dress Pants Style

In the early 2000s’, loose was out and skinny was in. Slim silhouettes were the shape of choice, and with them came flat-front pants and slimmed down legs that lead into the modern ‘no break’ hem.

The slim-fit flat-front camp or the loose-cut pleated camp? The truth is, the fashion experts would like to have it both ways and tell you to keep up with the times and buy what’s “on-trend”.

What Is The Purpose Of Pleats?

Aside from aesthetic differences, pleated dress pants possess some functional utility that sets them apart from flat front options. When you sit, your seat (also known as your ass) and thighs naturally widen. Pleated dress pants can better adapt to this change as the pleats spread to ease the stress on seams and improve your overall comfort. Pleats also give you extra room and greater freedom of movement when you’re walking, crouching, taking the stairs or dancing the night away at a wedding all while knowing you won’t bust a seam.


Choosing Pleated Dress Pants

Pleated dress pants are all about comfort, roominess, and flexibility.They’re great for active occasions that call for more movement or say if you have a long commute. Pleated pants are also the best choice for larger men and athletic types with muscular legs, both of whom stand to benefit from the spaciousness and comfortable utility that pleats provide.

From the style side, pleated dress pants are a more traditional look. However, if the fit of the rest of the pants is just right, they can feel like a dapper nod to the menswear greats of decades past.

We recommend choosing the pleated pants option if you value comfort > modern style, and if you have a little more ‘junk in the trunk’.


Choosing Flat Front Dress Pants

Flat front dress pants prioritize style over function. Due to their tighter and slimmer cut, they are most flattering on slimmer and average body types.

Since you won’t have the benefit of the pleats to help smooth out any tight situations, make sure you pay extra attention to getting the fit of your pants just right.  Where perception is concerned, flat front dress pants have come to be the preferred look in recent decades thanks to the tapered, slim trend that has continued.

That said, we think having a clean silhouette is always going to be a timeless look and even if pleats enjoy a renaissance someday, you’re not going to look sloppy when your pants fit well and look clean. So unless you need the pleats for comfort, we’d recommend flat front to most gents in most situations.