Many trends have made an unexpected comeback, and like a bad sequel to a bad movie, many of them are just as bad as they were the first time. But pleated pants are not such a trend. Though they’ve often gotten a bad rap, the best pleated pants are a classic menswear piece that have slowly worked their way back into stylish guys’ closets for the past few years. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, though. Pleats line up perfectly with the trend toward looser, more comfortable silhouettes that have given men permission to ditch the drainpipe jeans.
But if you’re wondering if you can pull them off, the answer is an emphatic yes. They may seem like an embellishment, but pleats serve a practical purpose. The folds create more room in the front of the pants, keeping you comfortable, whether sitting or standing. In short, the best pleated pants look as flattering on the tall and lean as they are on the short and stout. Of course, if function were the only factor, we’d recommend Crocs, fanny packs and dad sneakers (oh wait, we are). Beyond practicality, pleats are big on style, too. By creating extra dimension, pleated pants drape in a more interesting and flattering way than plain front pants.
Pleats have receded so far from popular consciousness that it’s easy to forget what they are. Not every pant with a crease is pleated. Rather, pleats are a piece of folded-over fabric on either side of the zipper, just below the waistband. Many pleated pants don’t even have a crease down the middle.
The key to pulling off the pleat is to think about the two fits. The first ‘fit is your outfit. Swapping chunky dress shoes for stylish sneakers or sleek loafers can make pleated pants feel more modern, as can ditching the billowy blue shirt for a crisp T-shirt or camp collar shirt. The second fit is the literal way the pants fit. A tapered cut that’s maybe slightly cropped will look way more stylish than overly baggy khakis. Pleated pants also come in a range of colors and styles, including khakis and cargos. of course, wearing them with confidence will go a long way. We can’t give that to you, but we can supply you with 11 good pleated pants. Good luck ever going back.
1. J.Crew Classic Relaxed-fit Pleated Chino Pant
One sure sign pleated is back? J.Crew, the grandaddy of accessible menswear, is all in on the trend. They’ve got a slew of pleated offerings, including this slouchy chino available in tan or navy.
2. Alex Mills Standard Pleated Pant in Chino
If Alex Mills wares feel like elevated takes on J.Crew and The Gap, that’s because the brand was co-founded by Mickey Drexler, the fashion maven who helmed both of those brands. These pleated chinos have a simple, relaxed look with a cropped cut that’s easy to style with high-top sneakers.
3. Banana Republic Archives Pleated Pant
Why not go all in on two divisive trends at once? These pants from Banana Republic have a single patch pocket on the side, creating a streamlined take on both pleats and cargos.
4. Todd Snyder Italian Cotton Gurkha Trouser
Todd Snyder is a bit like a menswear historian, digging up classic styles and elevating them for today. The Gurkha is a military-inspired trouser named for Southeast Asian soldiers who were part of the British army. The pants have a built-in belt and a double-pleated design, but the tapered cut keeps them feeling wearable. They’re pricey, but they’re a best seller from Todd Snyder for a reason, and they’re one of the best pleated pants for men.
5. Club Monaco Belted Pleated Trousers
BEST WIDE FIT
Club Monaco consistently delivers streamlined, classic styles. These pants are a great wide-fit take on the pleated pant trend. They’re made from 100% cotton and have a deep double pleat.
6. Amazon Essentials Men’s Pleated Chino Pant
Afraid to go all in on an expensive pair of pleated khakis? We get it. These chinos from Amazon Essentials are affordable and come in various colors.
7. Polo Slim Tapered Fit Prepster Pant
Just because you’re going pleated doesn’t mean you need to give up the elastic waists you’ve grown accustomed to. These pants from Polo are made with a lightweight blend of linen, lyocell and cotton and have a small dogtooth print. The tapered fit keeps things feeling modern.
8. Officine Generale Hugo Pleated Cotton Pants
BEST FOR FALL
If we had to sum up Officine Generale, we might dub it French Americana. The brand brings an elevated European eye to stateside staples like tees, denim and canvas sneakers. And they make great pants. These are a cotton/modal blend in a fine wale corduroy and have a built-in belt.
9. Uniqlo Pleated Tapered Pants
Uniqlo’s economical pants feature a single pleat with a dressy, wool-like finish. They’re polyester but classy-looking enough to pass for the real deal.
10. Allsaints Tallis Pleated Cotton & Wool Trousers
BEST CROPPED FIT
Allsaints is probably already on your radar if you’re fond of all-black everything. Their take on pleated pants is slimmer and sleeker, with a cropped cut for showing off your sneakers.
11. Giorgio Armani Straight-Leg Pleated Wool-Blend Trousers
Armani was king of the ’80s, and the menswear maestro is the perfect man for the return of pleated pants and double-breasted blazers. These pants are made from a blend of wool and polyester and come in a rich earthy color. They’re expensive, but dressing like Richard Gere in American Gigolo doesn’t come cheap.