Charlie Knows Best: Custom Slim-Cut, Forward Pleat Flannels From The Andover Shop

Since I started working at The Andover Shop several months ago, every day has been a “party”,” in 90-year-old owner Charlie Davidson’s words.

After noticing that forward pleats seem to be making a comeback, I figured I’d give them a try. Most of the customers at The Andover Shop opt for them when commissioning suits or bespoke trousers, so I figured why not. However, for a cleaner look, and to reduce the volume that the pleats create at the front of the trouser, I opted for single forward pleats, an Andover Shop signature, as opposed to the standard double pleats.

In mutual agreement between Charlie, his longtime assistant Larry, and myself, I elected to go with a more modern (slim) cut for my trousers. I wanted them to be as far away from the baggy, reverse-pleated trousers my father wore in the ’90s. Additionally, I chose a button fly, rear suspender tabs, side adjusters, and a rounded hook-and-eye closure — the usual details I get on all of my trousers.

As far as fabric goes, I chose an eight-ounce charcoal flannel from Zanella, as I tend to run hot. I was pretty reluctant about wearing pleats at all before I had these trousers made, but now I’m considering getting forward pleats in the same cut on the next suit that I have made.

After wearing the trousers to work for the first time the other day, Charlie looked at my trousers and said, “You finally feel like a man in those, don’t you?” — AL CASTIEL III

35 Comments on "Charlie Knows Best: Custom Slim-Cut, Forward Pleat Flannels From The Andover Shop"

  1. What a swellegant elegant party this is.

  2. Tell us more about pleats during your tenure, sir! How often were they requested, and what type of man preferred them?

  3. Single inverted pleats are standard on the more conservative British ready to wear. The whole outfit looks rather British to me (padded shoulder etc.) if we leave the cordos aside…Not at all bad though.

  4. I know that short-hemmed pants are trendy right now, but I’ve always found that if they are short enough to have no break at the cuff, they tend to – quite literally – hang off of me. Like curtains. And even more so (or at least it feels like it) if I’m wearing braces instead of a belt. Maybe a slim fit eliminates this phenomenon.

  5. During my tenure @J.Press (1959-1991) perhaps 25% bespoke orders were “Duke of Windsor” 2-button, rope shoulders, front-darts, bolder pin dots, chalk stripes or glenurquharts than standard off-the-rack Squeeze.

  6. Back in 1947 when Charlie Davidson briefly worked @J.Press, custom trousers were most often tailored with single forward pleats, button fly, rear suspender tabs, side adjusters, etc., but more than not, 20″ knee, 17″ bottom.

  7. You out to have a very flat stomach for pleated pants too not emphasis certain visual deficits. So I’m out.

  8. So pleats enhance the midsection not hide it? I’m confused. Might have to ring Boyer on this one.

  9. Charlottesville | February 27, 2017 at 4:57 pm |

    The single forward pleat looks very nice, I have to admit. I have some Polo RL suits and flannels with double forward pleats and have a few custom pants with the same, but my preference is still for a flat front. As for the reverse pleated gabardines I foolishly bought at Brooks a decade or more ago, they went to the Goodwill bin. What a baggy mess they were, and the odd swell of fabric in the front when sitting was positively obscene. Single forward pleats definitely look like the best option for those who want a bit of extra fabric.

  10. My personal distaste for pleated trousers stems from having to wear them for 12 years at school as part of a uniform. While I am now, and was then, skinny and did not have the problem other, more corpulent, students had with puckering pleats, I just always found them to be fuddy-duddy and unnecessary. That said, Al pulls them off well and kudos to him for knowing what he likes.

  11. Weren’t pleats created for those who needed more room in the abdomen? What other purpose do they serve?

  12. Ivy or not. Mr. Castile looks sharp and very well dressed in that outfit. Not fashionable but well put together. Obviously a gentleman that has developed his own timeless personal style. Well done sir.

  13. M Arthur, they don’t serve a purpose as far as I know they’re decorative. I can’t see how they were created for those with larger stomachs as that causes pleats to split open instead of lying creased.

  14. Very Sean Connery era Bond (and there’s no higher compliment). The slim, reverse-pleated pants recall Bond’s in Dr. No, while the hacking jacket/knit tie combo hearken back to Goldfinger. Extra points for adhering to the literary Bond’s disdain for lace-ups.

  15. If pleats “pleats to split open instead of lying creased” then one doesn’t know what size pants to buy. Trousers should be bought to fit through the hips, not the waist. The waist is easily altered. I like forward pleats, especially when I sit at a desk for most of the day.

  16. M Arthur
    Pleats normally provide more room in the thigh.

  17. Daniel McCarthy | February 27, 2017 at 11:56 pm |

    Al great choice with the single pleat, they look elegant on you. Most of mine in recent years have been flat front but I recently commissioned something with Steed with double pleats.

  18. Roger C. Russell II | February 28, 2017 at 1:05 am |

    I love all of the colors and I have recently developed a fetish for knit ties. However, I hate the idea of going to pleats.

  19. Never pleats for me on any of my dress pants.
    Ok on some khakis and shorts, but that’s it for me!

  20. FrontPorchLife | February 28, 2017 at 10:24 am |

    I prefer pleats and cuffs on my trousers. They are more comfortable and allow for a wider range of motion. It is also a fun, subtle way to troll those who think pleats are outdated.

  21. Pleats are outdated or at least not at classic as flat front trousers.

  22. To quote the OPH: “pleats are wrong.”

  23. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | February 28, 2017 at 6:51 pm |

    Some pleats are visually appealing. Stop being so doctrinaire.

  24. Chewco, I explained my aversion to pleats in earlier comments and I do not find those pleats visually appealing either. This is my opinion.

  25. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | February 28, 2017 at 10:44 pm |


    I don’t own pants with pleats either and I think the image I posted IS visually appealing, but in a “dandy” sorta way. To me, they’re like ascots: visually appealing for photo/stills, but too ostentatious (for me at least) to pull off in real life.

    So we still disagree, but only slightly.

  26. James Redhouse | March 1, 2017 at 11:41 am |

    Those trousers look like they’re going to fall down, even with the suspenders.

  27. @Paul. Braced trousers are supposed to hang. That’s the beauty of them. If you have too much break, it decreases the effect somewhat while pleats add to it. The trouser then becomes more of an abstraction of the leg an effect successully employed from the late 20s through to the 50s. In this day where fashions are geared towards ultimate physical display, properly suspended, pleated trousers can seem like a breath of fresh air.

  28. Chewco, that’s an interesting take on pleats. I have always thought of them as fuddy-duddy, but I do agree with you that while I would never wear an ascot they do look nice in pictures.

  29. P. Griffith | March 3, 2017 at 12:53 am |

    I was about to say that even Charlie sometimes–though rarely–slips; but I suppose we really can’t blame Charlie.

  30. Jeff Deist | March 3, 2017 at 2:11 pm |


    You sound like a child lacking in perspective. I suspect you have spent too much time reading about clothing on the internet and not enough time experiencing it.

  31. FrontPorchLife | March 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm |

    If you want to see a perfect example of why I prefer pleats. Watch the video of Dee Snider’s congressional hearing, and you will see exactly what I mean!

  32. Evan Everhart | August 20, 2018 at 12:42 am |

    Those trousers look mid-rise, like they ought to rise another 2 to 4 inches. Single forward pleats are however the way to go if you must have pleats, though they aren’t really my cup of tea. The look is very English.

  33. elder prep | April 5, 2019 at 10:41 am |

    As GS points out, from no lesser source than the OPH, “pleats are wrong”. Despite risking its displeasure, I like the look and the comfort they provide. They add a sense of fashion maturity and sartorial history. After all, we are the purveyors of and occupants in a world of clothing timelessness.

  34. So front pleats on chinos? Is a front pleat allowed from thigh and down, or should chinos be without the pleats for true ivy style?

Comments are closed.