Retreat from those pleats: Signs that a suit is out of style

Retreat from those pleats: Signs that a suit is out of style

Q. I have a navy suit with pleated trousers that I would like to wear for an interview with a NYC-based firm, but I am afraid it’s out of style. I have a suit with skinnier pants, but I do like the navy. Please let me know if this would be OK to wear, or if it’s out of style still. Thank you!

A. Well, yes, the blue suit with pleats is still out of style. When I first read your question, my immediate thought was that you might get away with it for an interview. The pleats on the trousers would not be obvious. Since you have no reason to take off your jacket during an interview, no one would be aware of the pleats just below your belt.

After thinking more about your question, I realized that was not really such wise or useful advice.

If it’s got pleated pants, almost certainly that’s not the only thing that is outdated about your suit. Chances are it is older than ten or twelve years. It’s been at least that long since suits were being manufactured with pleated trousers. Back then, not only were suits made with pleats in the trousers, but the general styling was different: jackets were more squared, they were longer, there was more padding in the shoulders, and the entire suit was a much fuller cut.

It’s true that tailors can take the pleats out, reconstructing pants into flat-fronts, and it is even possible for a skilled tailor to do a major overhaul on your jacket to make it look trimmer and more up to date. But such work is pricy; not every tailor is up to the job; and it may not be worth the investment. Bringing square and boxy shoulders to a current slimmer look can come close to what a new suit would cost. I would not recommend it.

You did not describe your other suit beyond the trousers’ being a more current cut. Depending upon the color, style, and fit, that suit might be your better choice  Most likely you are going to want to give up on the old blue suit and, if at all possible, purchase a second suit. Many “white collar” positions have occasions in which suits are needed a number of days in a row, and you would want some variety.          

Start with a fine quality dark suit. The two most essential items are a navy suit and a charcoal gray suit. I’m hoping your suit with the skinnier pants is a dark gray. Because navy blue flatters all complexions (and gray sometimes does not), every man’s closet can benefit from more than one well-tailored navy suit. At no time, and especially not when looking for a new job, do you want to look passé and out-of-date. Knowing you are well-dressed is a great boost to a man’s self-confidence.

For a wise choice, look for a lightweight wool suit in either a solid navy or a very simple navy pattern, single-breasted, with natural shoulders, very little padding, and a flattering, slim cut. Be sure not to overlook having any small, or not-so-small, alterations made that would elevate the suit’s fit. Consult with the store’s tailor about his specific suggestions for bringing it up to “perfection.”

Why not use this as an opportunity – a stepping stone – to jump start your new, more modern business image?

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