Pleated vs Non-Pleated Suit Trousers: Which Should I Choose?

There are literally hundreds of different types of suit trousers, varying in construction, fabric, style and craftsmanship. However, nearly all of them can be broken down into one of two categories: pleated or non-pleated (flat front). While some men automatically assume that non-pleated trousers are the best choice, this isn’t necessarily true. To learn more about the nuances between pleated and non-pleated suit trousers, keep reading.

Overview of Pleated Trousers

In the past, pretty much all men’s trousers were designed with a pleated front. This in stark contrast to modern times, which has given way for the rise of non-pleated trousers. Nonetheless, you’ll still find both pleated and non-pleated suit trousers available at most major stores. And because of this, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of each type. Only then can you choose the best possible suit trousers for your needs.

Pleated trousers are characterized by creases on the front, typically one or two on each side. Whether the trousers are made of cotton, linen, wool, etc., the fabric is folded on each side and then sewn underneath the waistband, essentially concealing the folded part of the fabric.

There are two different types of pleats: forward and reverse. Typically used in the construction of English trousers, forward pleats open towards the seam. In comparison, reverse pleats open outwards towards the the pockets. Reverse pleats are often found in Italian tailoring. So, which type of pleats is most common in the United States? Well, up until the 20th century, neither style was more dominant than the other. In recent years, however, reverse pleats has become the de-facto standard in men’s fashion.

Overview of Non-Pleated Trousers

Non-pleated suit trousers, on the other hand, feature a flat front with the characteristic creases of its pleated counterpart. They are designed just like pleated pants, only without the creases.

Because they don’t feature creases, non-pleated trousers have a flat, smooth front. Of course, this is why they are also called “flat-front trousers.” Other than this small nuance, there’s really no difference between pleated and non-pleated trousers. They are both available in a wide range of styles and fabrics, and they sell for similar prices. With that said, however, the presence of creases will affect both the comfort and function of the trousers. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits offered by both types.

Benefits of Pleated Trousers

Pleated trousers offer the added benefit of extra space in the waistline. Whether they are forward or reverse pleats, pleated trousers create additional space around the waist. If you’re a big guy, this added space may prove beneficial in creating a more comfortable fit.

Another noteworthy benefit of pleated trousers is added comfort when sitting. Without pleats, trousers tend to stretch when sitting. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can make sitting for long periods of time uncomfortable. Pleated trousers solve this problem by allowing for additional elasticity. The creases fold when sitting; thus, creating the appearance of a clean, smooth front.

Furthermore, pleated trousers are more resistant to wrinkles than non-pleated trousers. Their characteristic creases prevent wrinkles from forming in other areas of the fabric. Pleated trousers may still develop wrinkles, especially when they aren’t properly cared for or maintained. However, they are less likely to develop wrinkles than non-pleated trousers. This is just one more reason to consider choosing pleated trousers.

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Benefits of Non-Pleated Trousers

As previously mentioned, non-pleated trousers have become the preferred choice among most men. There’s a good reason for the popularity surrounding this style. Without pleats, they offer a more slimming appearance; thus, creating the appearance of a thinner, slimmer silhouette. And for men who already have a slim body/figure, this means non-pleated trousers will compliment their appearance.

Non-pleated trousers also offer a cleaner and more refined appearance. Some men will argue that they are even more formal than non-pleated trousers. Whether this is true is a personal decision. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that non-pleated trousers have a smoother front, which could be construed by some as a cleaner and more formal appearance.

Tips on Choosing Pleated and Non-Pleated Trousers

  • Consider your body type. Pleated trousers are generally recommended for larger men, whereas non-pleated are recommended for slimmer men.
  • If possible, try wearing both pleated and non-pleated trousers to see which style fits and looks best on your body. Stand up, walk around and sit down while wearing both types.
  • You’ll probably notice that cuffs are typically only found on pleated trousers. They are not found on non-pleated trousers. So, if you prefer the look of cuffs, choose pleated trousers instead of non-pleated.
  • Pleated trousers tend to sit higher on the waist. If you prefer the low-rise style, stick with non-pleated trousers for this very reason.
  • When choosing pleated trousers, consider whether they have forward or reverse pleats. Remember, the latter has become the most popular pleat type in recent years.
  • Regardless of which type you prefer, make sure the trousers are sized to fit your body.
  • When in doubt, stick with non-pleated trousers. Or if you’re on the fence, add both styles to your suit wardrobe.

The Bottom Line on Pleated and Non-Pleated Trousers

As you can see, both pleated and non-pleated trousers have their own benefits. Pleated trousers are great for bigger guys, as well as guys who sit for long periods of time. Non-pleated trousers are great for slimmer guys who want to maintain a stylish appearance. The only real difference between the two is that pleated trousers have creases on the front, whereas non-pleated trousers do not.

Ultimately, though, choosing between pleated and non-pleated trousers is a decision that only you can make. Some men prefer pleated trousers, and others prefer non-pleated trousers. Refer to the tips listed below to find the perfect style of trousers that works best for your needs.