“Hey! How come we wear trousers and he wears leotards?” Dean Martin to Frank Sinatra just after Sammy Davis, Jr. has appeared on stage.
The short answer is that Sammy Davis, Jr. was both more hip to the times and much leaner than the rest of the Rat Pack.
Pleats really only fell out of fashion during WWII when cloth rationing made making trimmer, non-pleated and straight hemmed trousers a patriotic duty. After the war, many men used to their GI clothing, continued to wear the flat front trouser and soft collared shirts they’d gotten used to. Then the Ivy Look, sold by J. Press, Brooks Brothers and the like, really hit full stride when it was adopted by college men, some of whom had just gotten out of uniform. Undarted two and three button jackets, flat front trousers with regular rises and button down shirts carried a man through college, into his first jobs and right into the nineteen-sixties. Ironically, the straight laced look found favor with jazz musicians who appreciated the streamlined modern look so different from the draped and zoot suited cats of the 1930’s and 40’s.
The birth of the cool solidified the look among the younger generations and soon the older generations, worshipping as ever at the altar of youth, followed suit (sorry.)
The eighties brought the drape style back into fashion. Pleated trousers so comfortable for driving and sitting for long periods staring at the Dow Jones ticking across the screen, were the rule, not the exception. Fast forward to today, when the Mad Men aesthetic is again in vogue. The sixties are back, perhaps because we all long for a new golden age of Camelot. Maybe it’s because we’re more body conscious and worked out. Maybe because the style is particularly flattering to the younger man.
So do you cuff your flat front trousers? As a general rule, we at Leviner Wood say no. Cuffs add weight to the bottom of your trouser leg and together with suspenders help pleats to fall correctly. When you’re wearing your flat fronts just below your natural waist, or on your hips, they become unnecessary. If you do cuff them, remember proportion is everything. Slim trouser, slimmer cuff.