It's no secret that while the perennially trend-setting Duke of Windsor loved his Scholte coats, he opted to have his trousers made across the pond in New York City. Word is he favored the lower-rise, sometimes pleat-free American cut over the traditional British style with its double pleats and high natural waist. He wasn't alone, and the twentieth century (with the exception of a small blip in the 1980s) saw men's trousers get lower, slimmer, and flatter.
That's not all bad, but I want to stand up for the high-waisted British trouser. I'm talking about a trouser with two pleats (regular or forward-facing), a wider leg, side-straps instead of belt loops, that sits on the natural waist, and almost always carries a hefty turn-up. The classic.
I'm in my early twenties, and I can't remember a time when the major magazines weren't preaching the gospel of slim trousers with flat fronts. Nothing else will do for the style-conscious man. Or so they have said. But I finally picked up some British-cut brown flannels and might like them better than any other trousers in my closet.
Just like asserting that the one, two, or three button coat must reign supreme, it's a shame to denounce the full, pleated trouser outright. A tailor I spoke with recently told me that in his forty years of suggesting clients try pleated trousers, he's never had a single customer switch back to flat fronts after taking pleats for a spin. I think I'm now one of the converted.
Not only does is a proper British trouser more comfortable, but it wears better and keeps a flattering shape longer. We all know what happens when a pair of wool trousers that are tight in the seat begin to stretch - the wearer gets the dreaded "diaper butt" and end up with cloth flapping about under his posterior. A trouser that drapes straight down off your backside, rather than hugging it, not only creates a cleaner line, but it does not deform the trouser every time the wearer sits down.
The same benefits accrue in front. The pleats give the crease some room to breathe, and creases lasting longer and stay sharper. And the wearer does not have to *ahem* "adjust himself" when he sits down, as the higher rise combined with the pleats keeps everything moving as it should.
So before following the herd and assuming trousers should be flat and low, give the high waisted trouser a try. The Duke was right about most thing sartorials, but I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one. Pull them up, tighten the side-tabs, and let the pleats do the rest.