The debate began during World War II when the pleated pant, and the extra fabric it requires, fell victim to government rationing. Pleated pants have been considered a luxury item ever since—suitable for formal occasions—while plain-fronts went on to be seen as more practical, all-around pants.
For a dressier look, go pleated. They’re worn higher up on the waist than plain-front pants with the pleats helping the fabric to fall naturally. To wear them correctly, you need to have them higher up than you might think… if you’re standing and the pleats are ballooning open, you should pull them up.
For a more modern look, go with the versatile plain front. They’re worn lower at the hips than pleated and can be dressed up or down. For proper fit, look in the mirror to see if your side pockets are bulging out, if so, your pants are too tight.
The tall and short of it
If you’re tall and thin, plain-fronts give you better proportions, whereas pleated pants balloon around your waist creating a baggy look. If you still want to try for pleated, be sure they have a single pleat.
If you’re short, pleats are tricky. The extra fabric that comes with too many pleats can give a round look, which you don’t want. The verticality of a well-placed pleat will make you appear taller, but it’s all about moderation.
If you’re heavy-set, you will want to wear pleated pants because the extra room around the waist offers comfort. Plus, because they’re worn slightly higher, they’ll impart a slimming effect to your profile.
If you’re in the normal or average body type category, then you can take your pick. Feel free to experiment with pleated or plain fronts in different fabrics as the fabric weight may affect how the pants hang on you.
Your pants, perfected
Regardless of which style you prefer, spend the extra time and money by taking them to a tailor. It’s worth it. The most expensive pair of pants will only look average if you don’t have them altered to fit you. There’s a big difference between pretty good and perfect.