Trousers, jeans and shorts that are pleated in front and just below the waistband have been around for ages. I remember them best from the ‘80s and early ‘90s and wore them frequently back then. I especially loved my long dressy pleated linen shorts, pleated paper-bag waist jeans, and pleated white cotton pants. Pleated pants were completely mainstream and most people wore a version of them. The mid ‘90s arrived and front pleated bottoms disappeared. Flat fronts with mid to low rises ruled the roost for a very long time. I enjoyed wearing those silhouettes too.

Slowly, but surely, higher rise bottoms with front pleats came back into fashion as a very, very fringe trend. I loved the silhouette back in the ‘80s, so I bought into the fringe trend almost immediately with a pair of black silk harem pants that are still going strong thirteen years later. Over the years, I’ve added more pairs of pleated pants with higher rises to my pants capsule. As long as the rises aren’t too high, the fabric drapes well, the pockets don’t pull, and the seat is fairly tailored, I find the style extremely comfortable, flattering, and a good fit. I like the roominess around my thighs and crotch point, and the structure around the waist. I don’t mind the pouf when seated. I like to semi-tuck and tuck tops into pleated pants to showcase the waist detailing. I have also worn fluid, soft and boxy untucked tops over pleated pants for a less structured look.

I vote YAY. Here is my current collection of pleated pants, and I’m open to a new pair, maybe in red, white, or denim:

Many of my clients and friends are a nay on pleated trousers, jeans and shorts, despite having worn them in the ‘80s. Their main concern is that the front pleats pouf out thereby adding “bulge and volume” instead of streamlining the midsection. Or the pleats create focus around an area they would prefer not to draw attention to. Another concern is the higher rise, and feeling blocky with a short waist, and especially with a larger bust. Some don’t like the higher rise and volume on the thigh area, and others simply have poison eye for pleated pants. I am always on the side of the wearer, and understand these concerns.

On the other hand, some of my clients do enjoy wearing pleated bottoms. They cover a range of body types, sizes and heights. Those with wider thighs and hips and narrower waists are all too happy to wear a style that curves with their curves instead of trying to make a straight cut work with lots of alteration. The pleats create a roomier thigh fit, which can be very appealing, as is the nipped-in waist. They also style their pleated bottoms with UNTUCKED tops sometimes, which gives them a flattering thigh fit, a longer waist, and hides most of the bulge and pouf of the pleats.

Pleated trousers, jeans and shorts are still a fringe trend. I don’t expect them to go mainstream, but you never know. The silhouette has gained momentum over the last few years. Sometimes with a paper-bag waist. It’s best to take the pleated pants style by style, because some pleats lie more flat and look more streamlined than others. Some pleats are small and subtle, whereas others are very poufy. Fabric that drapes well helps too. The collection below shows many variations on the pleated pants theme.

Shopbop
IRO Chiqui Pants
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Top Pick
4
Shopbop
ADEAM Hakama Pants
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Top Pick
2
Shopbop
Closet Ivo Pants
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Top Pick
2
Eloquii
Pleat Front Pant
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Top Pick
4
Mango
Pleated Linen Short
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Top Pick
2
Eloquii
Pleated Crop Pant
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Top Pick
2

Over to you. What’s your take on pleated pants, and do you wear them? Do you feel similarly to me, or side with most of my clientele?

Eloquii Pleat Detail Trouser