To pleat or not to pleat
If you were to take the place of a fly on the wall in an average department store for a day, you may hear hundreds of conversations between men and their wives. You may also witness unmarried men in deep thought holding up various pairs of pants. Or you might catch a fleeting glimpse of the speed mission shopper with the motto “In, out, and on to my next stop.” Each one of those men share a common need – they all want to carry home the right clothes. Once those shirts or pants make their way into the various closets, they still must find their way into an outfit.
Throughout my life, I found myself standing before a closet asking what I would wear. Many times, I grabbed a shirt attempting to match it with different pairs of pants. In the end, I walked out the door in what I considered an acceptable look. I realize now that my closet lacked the variety of pants that I really needed. Back when, I owned maybe one well worn pair of pleated khakis, a brown pair of pants, and a black pair of slacks. The khakis took the brunt of wear along with a pair of jeans because I could never seem to match anything with the brown pants. And, I would wear the black pants half as much as the khakis. For some reason, it never dawned on me that I should gather a variety of good pants. Today, I am proud to confess that my closet is now full of great pants, mostly flat front.
In the world of men’s fashion, you will discover many types of pants including khakis, cargo, tweed, cuffed or not cuffed, wool, flannel, corduroy, jeans, pinstripe, and herringbone – just to name a few. Your wardrobe demands a lot of good pants. Therefore, if your selection suffers as mine did, buy some great pants right away. Start with a pair of gray wool dress trousers.
When it comes to pleats, I prefer flat front. They slim your figure and add a modern feel. Pleats add volume to your lap area making you appear larger than you should. In general, stay away from pleats. This does not apply if your stomach is more robust. In order to add balance (and room) for your body, wear pleated pants. If your frame falls into a more fit category, flat front pants are ideal.
When deciding on cuffs, keep a few things in mind. Cuffs bring the end of your pants to a solid end while un-cuffed pants have an open and ongoing look. If your legs are short, buy pants without cuffs. On the other hand, if you have extraordinarily long legs, offset the length with cuffs. In general, I say to go without cuffs as it looks more modern.
Right now, you should have at least two good pairs of dress slacks. For the best durability, feel, and appearance, search for 100% wool pants. Some polyester / rayon blend pants look nice as well; however, be very careful with polyester as it can look cheap. Durable tweed also makes a nice choice. On the casual side, you can’t go wrong with a good pair of flat front khakis. And, throw on cargo pants for a stylish laid back alternative. My wife loves it when I wear tan cargo pants with a plain black crew-neck t-shirt.
As you hunt down the perfect pants, your path will cross many patterns. For me, check and herringbone have a certain classy, almost nostalgic, image drawing from my mind pictures of gentlemen from the past. My favorite pattern would have to be pinstripe. I own several grey pair and get a lot of wear out of them. I find it easy to match them with many colors and usually look more dressed up because of them. I imagine the lines place the pants in the same category with a uniform. They seem very proper. Of course, solid colors will provide you with the most options and ease of morning outfit preparation. Every man should own black trousers. When starting out, stay away from loud and bright pants. Consider pants to be the choir, not the solo singer.
Once you fill your closet with options, you will no longer dread having to decide on an outfit for the day. You will jump out of bed with birds singing outside your window. With a smile on your face, you will relish in the fact that you get to make yourself look fresh and timeless for the day. And, you will be able to do it in any variety of ways.
© Copyright 2014 Fashion for the average man.