Flat-Front vs. Double Pleats

Feel confident and comfortable in your flat-front or double-pleated pants by dressing according to your body type.
Feel confident and comfortable in your flat-front or double-pleated pants by dressing according to your body type. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you’re having a hard time deciding between flat-front trousers and double-pleated pants, look to your body type -- short or tall, average or athletic, thin or heavy-set -- to guide you in the process. Once you know which pants style flatters your frame and height, learn how to properly wear them comfortably on your body.


Pleats are folds of fabric that are pressed or sewn into the waistband of slacks, chinos and other men’s pants. Pants can feature from one to four pleats, with each pleat representing the number of folds in the fabric. Double-pleated pants, as the name suggests, feature two folds. Pleated pants are usually reserved for dressier occasions and should be worn fairly high. Worn too low and they will balloon out when you are standing.

Flat-front, or plain-front, pants have no pleats. Modern and relaxed looks are associated with this particular style. They are worn at the hips -- lower than you would wear pleated pants. If your side pockets pop out when wearing flat-front pants, the garment may be too tight.

Choosing Pants Based on Height

Men of medium to short stature (roughly 5 feet 9 inches and under) can wear double pleats, but use care when doing so as this style uses more fabric. If your pleats align perfectly with your frame, the vertical lines will give you the illusion of a taller height. Double-pleated pants that are the incorrect size or worn too low will make shorter gentlemen appear rounder and even frumpy.

For men who are tall in height, flat-front pants will help balance body proportions. Double-pleated trousers may be too much fabric for a tall man (especially if he is also on the thin side), so err on the side of caution and wear single-pleated pants if pleats must be worn.

Choosing Pants Based on Weight

Men with larger frames will enjoy double pleats. Not only will the extra room in the upper part of your pants offer comfort, but pleated pants can also slim down a heavy-set figure. Pants on large men should be worn high as the fabric will drape over the belly area in a vertical fashion.

Conversely, men with thin frames should stick to flat-front pants. The extra fabric may bulk up the waistline and throw off body proportions. Flat-front trousers are often available in slim cuts to promote a clean and streamlined look.

Other Body Types

Men with an athletic lower half may find flat-front pants too tight. Double pleats afford space in the crotch, buttocks and thigh area -- accommodating muscular builds. Men of average body proportions have the luxury of choosing from any pant style: flat-front and double-pleat, or even quadruple-pleat.

If you’re buying flat-front or double-pleated pants off the rack, men of all shapes and sizes should consider getting their clothing tailored. Bodies are unique and can always benefit from a custom-fitted garment.

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