Oddly, readers ask about style points on trousers more frequently than on jackets. Perhaps it’s because we don’t cover them as much. In this article therefore – the seventh in the Suit Style series – we’ll tackle one of them: pleats. Hopefully it will answer all future inquiries. If I’ve missed anything, please do ask in the comments and I will add it later. There is a separate post here on trouser fit and shape. I’ll do ones at a later date on rise, and on other design details.
The function of pleats is to create greater room around the tops of trousers, yet have that space collapse when not required, keeping the silhouette sharp and clean. They are particularly useful for those that use their pockets often, as this puts strain on the area. Arguably, they are also more useful on high-waisted trousers (those sitting above the hip bones, on the natural waist between hips and ribs) as the trouser has more work to do running from small waist to bigger hips, and then into the thigh. This is why RTW high-waisted trousers, for men and women, often come with pleats. Pleats also function better with high trousers worn with braces, because the braces attach just at the top of the pleats, pull on them, and so keep them under tension.