How to treat the outdated pleat

How to treat the outdated pleat

Q. I have to go to a wedding and the only appropriate suit I have has pleated trousers. I neither can afford nor want to buy a suit just for this wedding. Any suggestions?


A. Whatever you do, please don’t allow this small problem to prevent you from attending and enjoying the wedding. These days we can all benefit from a happy distraction. I hope to be able to suggest a few possible solutions.

First, you are right that trousers with pleats have been out of fashion for several years and should be avoided when possible. But that does not mean your only option is to buy a new suit. You have two perfectly acceptable alternatives.

Before discussing the trousers, I do have to add a note of caution to any of this advice: Generally a suit that has pleated trousers is several years old and the cut of the trousers is not the only element that might look dated or be out of style. The entire suit is likely to be cut somewhat fuller than today’s more modern styles. Still, it is unlikely that the jacket and/or the pants would be so far from today’s trimmer cut as to make you uncomfortable.

So, one option is to ignore the problem altogether and to wear the suit as is. Even though this is not ideal, it really is workable, because, as long as you do not unbutton or remove your suit jacket during the entire event, no one will be aware that your trousers have pleats.

Your second option is to take the trousers to a skilled tailor to remove the pleats and turn them into plain-front trousers. This is neither a simple not an inexpensive alteration, but it is definitely doable; and it can be a wise investment.

My regular readers know that I recommend always making necessary tailoring alterations. But I also regularly caution against making certain specific changes. The primary one to avoid is changing the shoulders on a jacket. This is a major alteration and almost never a wise decision.

Nevertheless, many other alterations are well within the ability of a qualified tailor, and one of them is removing the pleats from a pair of pants (as well as some of the extra fullness). This process can easily cost from $50 to $90, but if you already own a suit that you like, and if you do not have a lot of occasions to wear a new suit or the funds to buy one, the expenditure makes a lot of sense. The trickiest part is finding a tailor who is up to the job. Ask around until you find one who is well recommended. This is not the place to cut back on quality.

Whichever way you go, your overall appearance for a special occasion can certainly benefit from paying attention to a few dress and grooming details. A well-ironed shirt and a compelling necktie would be positive additions. The better they look — and the fact that they are near to your face where people’s eyes focus — will reduce any notice of your trousers.  If you have a high quality shine on your shoes and a good haircut, this will also distract and improve your overall appearance.

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