Pleated Trousers and their Various Styles: Forward, Reverse and More

For men like me, pleats are fantastic.

Pleats on pants in general are great. They give the eye something to look at in the fronting of the trouser, and have excellent practical use in giving your upper legs more room to move and extra comfort in the waist area.

For someone with me who deals with excess abdominal skin after weight loss, they’re a godsend.

The debate over forward or reverse pleats looking best is largely a debate of aesthetic preference, with some people swearing by the forward pleat and others swearing by the reverse pleat. Below, I’ll touch on the pros and cons of both pleat types and you can decide for yourself as to which you prefer.

Reverse pleats: the staple style.

The reverse pleat is much more common than its forward compatriot, and seems to have a more vocal following.

The reverse pleat is common in ready-to-wear pleated pants. It’s easier to get right, and commonly found in double pleated configurations as seen in the image above.

They’re a popular choice because it’s easier to look good in them, in a sense. If the pleat pulls open a bit, it’s less noticeable because the fabric fold is hidden from view.

The caveat is that – in my opinion – a reverse pleat simply doesn’t tend to hold as nice and crisp a crease compared to a forward pleat.

I’ve also found that this type of pleat is more likely to pull open easily when you have stuff in your pocket.

The forward pleat: higher risk, higher reward.

Forward pleats are not as commonly found on ready-to-wear trousers, as they are more dependent on the measurements being accurate. They’re more commonly found on made to measure and bespoke trousers, but are occasionally found on RTW models such as the below pictured from Polo Ralph Lauren.

I have a preference for forward pleats simply because I prefer the way they drape.

However, they are harder to shop for. There’s a risk with forward pleats; if your trousers are too tight and the pleats pull open, it’s in full glaring view and doesn’t look good. This is the point where reverse pleats win, they’re slightly more forgiving when it comes to fit.

This being said, you should be trying your best to nail your fit; it’s the most important thing about your clothing.

While double pleats are the standard, I do admire the cleanliness of a deep single forward pleat. I recently specified one on a suit I commissioned:

Forward pleats have some serious potential for excellent, crisp lines. If you want to see proof, just check out Instagram user @thezanification‘s profile.

Conclusion: There’s Benefit To Both

In the end, both types of pleats serve a similar purpose. They’re there to make things more comfortable for you, and serve as a vertical line to help lengthen your figure while increasing the potential for drape in your trousers.

I think pleats are absolutely worth a shot, regardless of your body type. They can be flattering on the slimmest and the strongest built men.

And if you’re a flat front fan, you try pleats and you’re still a flat front fan? Go forth and wear a flat front. It’s all up to you, choose what fits your personal style best.

That’s all for today!

What’s your favourite type of trouser?

More reading…

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Sam founded STS in 2019 to help his fellow man to dress (and smell) fantastic, and most importantly to enjoy it! He works as a fitter at the made to measure tailoring store Beg Your Pardon in Adelaide, South Australia.

3 thoughts on “Pleated Trousers and their Various Styles: Forward, Reverse and More

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