Flat Front or Pleated Trousers?

Flat front trousers are very much in vogue at the moment, and have been for some years now. There are good reasons for this.  Flat fronted trousers are neat, they use less material, which is good news for tailors as they cost slightly less to make. But they are also good news for consumers. With less material, flat fronts are more slimming and less bulky.

For casual trousers flat fonts are now de rigeur but for some slightly more formal trousers some pleating is occasionally to be found. However, pleated trousers are making a bit of a comeback, even among casual trousers like chinos, and some men have never made the switch to flat fronts.


One of the great things about pleated trousers is that if you are a man who likes sharply creased trousers (who doesn’t?), your crease can run from the hem all the way up through the pleat and into the waistband.  With flat fronted trousers the crease stops about an inch below the waistband.

Thankfully, gone are the days where multiple pleats were a common feature of male trousers. The most famous (and excessive) version of this looked a bit like MC Hammer.  Remember that video? Can’t Touch this….

MC-Hammer-U-Cant-Touch-This-gold-pants-hammer-timeMC hammer’s excess demonstrates both the upside and downside of pleated trousers. First, the downside: pleated trousers means extra material below the waist. Great whether you are hiding something in your pockets or just glad to see someone but will mean that it is hardly a streamlined look.  MC Hammer illustrates one extreme example of this.

However, there is an upside to that extra material. MC hammer can do all of that shuffling and sliding because he is wearing a pair of trousers that are extremely loose with lots of room to move.  So it is that if you like your trousers to be a bit of a looser fit then you might prefer pleated trousers to flat fronts. They will almost certainly be a little more comfortable as a result of the extra wiggle room.

Salmon Cords C TyrwhittThere is of course the compromise position, which is increasingly adopted in modern trouser tailoring, the single pleat. With a single pleat you don’t add too much excess material below the waist but there is slightly more material than with flat fronted trousers.

The reality of course is that it is possible for flat fronted trousers to be loose fitting, with wriggle room built in. Perhaps better tailored in….?  I know this because I have a few. However, they do need to be well tailored or properly adjusted so that the waist fits reasonably snugly but below the waist your trousers don’t cling to you.

Stone single pleat chino CT

So what’s your preference? Bear in mind that flat fronts are more flattering for slimmer physiques whilst fuller figures would probably be better off in pleated fronts.


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