QWhy do thin, athletic men wear front-pleated pants that make them look like their fathers? And 20 pounds heavier? Aren't there other business-casual options?

Peeved at Pleats, Washington

AGive the guys a break, Peeved. Of course there's a workday alternative to pleats -- flat-front pants, namely -- but a lot of guys just aren't there yet. Though women take on sartorial challenges daily (heels, pencil skirts, the capri pants craze), too many men look at flat-fronts, see discomfort and scurry back to the baggier, more forgiving model they're used to. The thing to do is disabuse them of their assumptions. Fact is, most men can wear a flat-front pant, as long as the fit is right; they look best, though, on trim bodies. Just a couple of things to watch: In general, men buy their pants a size or two too small. This looks bad in a pleat but disastrous in a flat-front. To get it perfect, you might want to buy your pants a little big and have a good tailor fit them. Second, make sure the fabric has a little stretch. Then you'll both feel and look comfortable.

Sara Switzer

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