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Pleated pants get a bum rap because people associate them with unflattering chinos that make a waistline look like a semi-deflated balloon.

Jeremiah Deasey/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The question

Are pleated pants really back?

The answer

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Pleated pants get a bum rap because people associate them with unflattering chinos that make a waistline look like a semi-deflated balloon. But I think what we're dealing with here is a question of fashion semantics and technical sewing details. There's a chance you might be mistaking pleats for darts. A dart is a discreetly stitched fold that gives fabric shape; a pleat is an actual fold in the fabric that is either pressed or stitched so that it stays in place. Darts can be an effective detail on pants because they add contours, especially on a more relaxed fit. Otherwise the fabric might just droop. Gucci's creative director, Frida Giannini, used darts in her recent Resort collection for exactly this reason. But when you do see actual front-pleated pants, perhaps give the designer the benefit of the doubt. Clare Waight Keller worked a slightly asymmetric pleat into the Spring 2013 Chloé collection, for example. The result was original and flattering. You'd be hard-pressed to object.

Amy Verner is The Globe and Mail's Paris-based style reporter. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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