They’re here, they’re popular and they’re giving your jeggings a run for their money. Yes, pleated pants have returned for yet another season, and like every bottom-oriented trend, there are rules to abide by before jumping in. But make no mistake: while pleats have come a long way from their days as mom jeans and fast food uniforms, don’t bust out your billowy button-up and fitted polo shirt just yet.
DO balance your silhouette
Like the cardinal rule of all pantaloons, make sure you balance your look to prevent a silhouette that embodies extremes (zero shape vs. too much shape). So while you may opt for a looser-fitting top when wearing high-waisted skinnies, go for a fitted blouse or a button-up to balance the billowy quality of your pants.
DON’T rely on thrifting
Coming from a tried-and-true thrifter, to suggest buying full-price anything is a personal hurdle. However, unless you know how to tailor (or know of a great one), it can be difficult to avoid succumbing to matronly attire (read: mom jeans) when faced with a rack of discounted 90s wear. That’s why it’s smart to invest in a pair of new pleated trousers to ensure you’ve got the right fit, a flattering cut and a modern aesthetic that’s far from circa ’94 B.U.M. equipment.
DO opt for patterns
This season, neons, patterns and playful styles are dominating the lines of almost every chain and designer, and like the dresses and accessories defining spring 2011, trouser pants are no exception. Stores like H&M and Urban Outfitters have set the bar for vibrancy and boldness, while American Apparel has gravitated towards a minimalist aesthetic that works perfectly with loud tops. Just remember that combining two trends in one piece is fine “ provided your shirt isn’t channeling 1976 or that you’ve introduced two shades of neon.
DON’T make assumptions
Contrary to popular belief, while two styles may seem similar, different fabrics and cuts will fit and work differently according to your body type. Pleated linen pants will provide a tailored look (and likely require you to adhere to a specific size), while billowy blossom trousers will give off an entirely different shape (and may be dependent on an elastic waist). That’s why it’s important to try everything on: we may have focused on the pleated side of this year’s bottoms, but any statement style requires you take a test run.
DO own your look
Let’s face it: when showcasing a trend others might still raise eyebrows at (remember what they used to say about skinny jeans?), you’re likely going to feel a little self-conscious. But while naysayers may adhere to their low-rise flares while commenting on your pleats, respond by lacing up those ankle boots, tightening your braid and holding your head high. Great fashion is about confidence, and if you’re willing to embrace it, those pants will look a heck of a lot better.