The Pleated Trouser

The Greater Spotted Pleated Trouser

The pleated trouser is being spotted in greater abundance. A once rare species, the pleated trouser was preserved and protected by trouser enthusiasts and diehards who pushed back against our shabby age as hard as it pushed against them.

The fruits of this successful conservation programme have resulted in new pairs being spotted where once you would have only seen the abundant flat-fronted trouser — namely on younger and slimmer people. Confirmation bias means that I see this as a return to common sense rather than a short-term trend. I think it's good to have a menagerie of trouser styles.


Trouser pleats can number from one to three, and they can be the traditionally-British (particularly the double) forward pleat, which is turned inward towards the fly; or they might be the traditionally-Italian reverse pleat, which is turned outward towards the side pockets. The reverse pleat, if not common, has been the dominant pleat in recent years.

Here is the brilliant James Stewart looking extremely dapper and excellently attired in his 'forward facers'.

I wouldn't mind a pair of trousers exactly like those. In fact, I wouldn't mind the whole rig. What a sweater! Let's stick to trousers for this post though. Would any aspiring tailors looking to make a name for themselves be up for the challenge of making an exact pair? Think of the promotional possibilities. I'm a 32" waist and a 33" inside leg, and I have a relatively even temperament. Other measurements and psychological characteristics can be provided on application. Or you can pop round to Tweed Towers with your tape and chalk. I'm reluctant to budge from Somerset at the moment.

You might also see a box pleat or two on a trouser. That looks suspiciously like an inverted box pleat on Richard Gere's American Gigolo trousers — a great film with a great soundtrack. I'm not entirely sure though, so I will ask the tailor who is calling round to make those James Stewart trousers.

We should mention kilts when we talk about box pleats — have a dekko at the seried ranks of military box pleats on the kilt from Kinloch Anderson below.

The New Pleat

Where to find the pleated trouser? Margaret Howell showcased pleated trousers in her summer collection, with neckerchiefs in the style of Slim Chance-era Ronnie Lane.

The Parisian label Officine Générale has a pair of 'pleaters' out in navy and mid-grey (below) Fresco wool.

Final Word

The final word, however, must go to Steed Tailors of London for the forward pleated trousers in the top photo  — wow! (and I don't exclaim lightly).  The trousers were made in a single piece without a waistband — a 'continuous waistband' — which was a favourite style of Fred Astaire. Such clean lines and they look so comfortable and good for dancing in. Perhaps I should include that touch with the James Stewart trousers...


  1. Reluctant to leave Somerset eh tweedy!
    who could blame you with summer approaching.
    maybe i will see you at at Taunton races on sunday,or over at Brown and Forrest having a spot of lunch.
    i will have my eyes peeled for a slim gent in pleated trousers!

    1. Thanks James. Brown and Forrest = tasty. Another reason to stay put in Somerset. Best wishes, Tweedy


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