Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Regarding Pants

So I recently got a couple pairs of pants from Brooks Brothers (bougie, I know.... they're not actually even pants-- they're trousers), and in the process of selecting my pants, I encountered a few decision points that all serious-minded men must contemplate at least once in their lives.

To pleat, or not to pleat?

I am of two minds about pleats (my mother is not, she hates them). On a pair of formal trousers, they lend a certain degree of gravitas. The pleats say, here is a man who takes his pants seriously, who knows where he stands, and stands there firmly. In part because they've gone somewhat out of style, they indicate that the wearer has made a conscious stylistic decision to go pleated-- and I support conscious stylistic decisions in business wear.

They also provide the benefit of extra room for one's honkin' thighs, or one's pistol.

On the downside, pleats can lend a slightly unattractive shape to the pants, particularly when the pockets are weighted down with wallets, keys, and sundry electronics. Plus, conscious stylistic decision or no, they're a little square.

I got one pair with pleats, one without.

Whither cuffs?

According to Wikipedia, cuffs were invented to add weight to the bottom of the pant leg, thereby helping the fabric sit properly on the leg. Like pleats, however, they are not particularly relevant in this modern world in which we live. They're irritating when it's raining and they fill up with water (does that happen to other people?), and confusing when unrolling a rolled-up pant leg. But one only need compare cuffed and uncuffed pants to see the argument in favor.

Cuffless pants just seem to peter out-- to suddenly, surprisingly, awkwardly come to an end. Cuffs say: "Hey. Welcome to the bottom of the pants. Want more pants? Better turn around, buster."

I went for cuffs twice. And I'm happy I did.

What are your thoughts on the matters above?


Blogger Matthew said...

Most excellent post. I am firmly in the no-pleats camp. Forget what is currently in or what isn't (I have some great three piece suits from my grandfather as a 30-year-old that are flat front), I just think pleated pants look silly. Someone once told me they are designed to hide a gut, much like ties are supposed to make you look taller. Cuffs, on the other hand, are great. In my closet, its all plain-front and cuffed or plain-front and uncuffed.

9/1/09 10:55 AM  
Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

I think your logic is way off with "In part because they've gone somewhat out of style, they indicate that the wearer has made a conscious stylistic decision..." Often the exact opposite seems the case, that one has been caught absent-mindedly stuck in the past. Most men are very un- style conscious and a lot of suits at Macys are pleated.

Pleats really are intended to help hide a gut so my sense has always been that, unless you're fat, flat front is the "right" way to go. They make your pants hang strangely with stuff in your pockets precisely because it's not the right cut for your body. Though, on the other side, I have seen a few designers putting out pants with a SINGLE pleat that seems to work well for thin/athletic builds and still provides that gravitas.

I guess on cuffs I think you could go either way, but cuffless looks cleaner and more modern to me. You're such a trad.

9/1/09 4:51 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

i think you have a point on the pleats, ryan. it's true, a lot of people will wear pleats because they don't have a clue. these are people for whom i have neither time nor patience, and i give them no heed.

i'm talking here about the stylistic elite-- a group that does occasionally sport pleats.

when you do so, you run the risk of looking like you don't have a clue. but if you pull it off, it can be very effective.


on cuffs, we'll have to chalk it up to a difference of opinion. a trad i may be, but i hold my ground: cuffs are awesome.

it's all in the details.

9/1/09 7:53 PM  
Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

Yes, I suppose at least in theory one can sport pleats for effect. Though your link didn't work when I copied and pasted. I shed a tear.

11/1/09 5:56 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

11/1/09 9:51 PM  

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