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Pleats (Another First World Problem)

December 26, 2014

I geared up for combat shopping this morning and headed over to Nordstrom for sale day. Back in the day, we’d go out to Nordstrom for the big sale four strong. Everyone looking for ties and shirts they thought I’d like. How I delighted in those ventures with the ones that I loved.

Today was a solo endeavor. I was in and out in no time at all. Other than a slight backup at the tailor’s room, it was a pretty quick campaign. Impressive, even.


A pair of Allen Edmonds shoes purchased during the first Clinton administration. The good folks in the AE Wisconsin plant refurbished them this month to look and feel brand new. Twentieth century Midwest qualities result in quality products. I’ll buy this brand any day over the overpriced and poorly crafted alternatives hawked to us today.

In fact, the biggest of battles was with myself. While I’m never confused with the fashion forward among us, I know what I like. The First World problem over here is that Nordstrom seems to have forgotten this and left me behind.

At first I thought that this was a temporary or seasonal push from the clothing designers or perhaps a problem with the corporate purchasing department. But that’s really not the case. This is the way things are now.

For the past couple of years, I have griped and complained about this to F, my steady haberdasher. He patiently lets me get it out and then goes through the racks and tables helping me to find what’s left of the styles that he used to sell me and knows that I still want. I remind him of a particular article or clothing cut and he tells me that the store no longer sells it. It feels like the floor is falling out right underneath me. Initially, I’d respond with “What do you mean you don’t sell it anymore? How can that be?” I don’t do that much anymore, but instead mutter something underneath my breath or ask him when he shows me what’s now available, “Who would want to wear this stuff?”

Self-conscious about grumbling to him about these things, I thank him for listening and apologize for any unnecessary passion. He assures me that it’s really no big deal and that my commentary doesn’t measure up to the outbursts and attitudes he encounters from others. Come to think of it, we’ve all seen those Nordstrom shoppers and I know I have nothing to worry about whatsoever. We’re good.

The challenges buying clothes these days are mostly an issue with the slacks, pants and shirts, although the shoes, suits and overcoats are no exception. (Don’t even get me started with the casual clothes.) Everything is in the styles that the kids prefer and the fashion designers have now crammed them down to the rest of us.

As for the slacks, my desire is straightforward and easy to understand. I have a couple of favorite manufacturers. I want to buy their pleated wool slacks at Nordstrom on sale the day after Christmas. Just like I’ve always done. It’s really that simple. Based on a discussion with F three weeks ago, I expected a few options today and I went in there fully prepared to open my wallet. My expectations were dashed in real-time as I pawed through the stacks of sale dress slacks. Not a single pair had pleats. Not one. None. F put in all in sharp focus when he told me that every suit the store put on the racks for the season had flat front slacks; there wasn’t a pleat to be found. He couldn’t help me.


Two pairs of wool slacks with no pleats. The next big test will come when the alterations are completed and I wear them outside the tailor’s room.

My first thought was to retreat. I’d go get fitted by the tailor for the sport jacket I found and leave it at that. No dress slacks, no casual pants and no dress shirts. I’d stick to my guns and go search the store’s website for pants with pleats and shirts that were not trendy plaid. But then I checked myself. I hadn’t owned a pair of flat front dress slacks since I was a teenager, but something inside of me told me to give it a try. After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen? As is the case with these First World problems some of us are fortunate to endure, there was really no downside at all.

I brought a couple of pairs over to F to get me started in the tailor’s room. He smiled, congratulated me and then welcomed me to 2014. I went through the fitting relaxed and with ease. We joked about the prospect of me getting attached to flat fronts just when the styles would change back to pleats. I laid my money down and walked out feeling okay about things. Who knew these changes could be so easy?


From → Consumption, Life

  1. While I can’t afford Nordstrom’s, I still agree with you. Who are they designing clothes for now? In women’s clothes, the tops are getting shorter, and the pants start lower and lower. Zippers used to be 6-7 inches long — they are now 4. Pockets are too small (an iPhone 6 won’t fit in most women’s pants pockets) and a 57 year old woman with a gap is none too attractive!


  2. When I find a pair of shoes that I like, I buy two pair. Clothes are becoming more and more difficult to shop for with each passing year.
    Happy Holidays! 🙂


    • Hi Debra – As an outside observer with women’s shoes, it seems to me there are so many choices. Perhaps I need to look a little closer to figure out that they are all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I prefer classic styles, and often become frustrated when I shop. I wonder what happened to the concept of aging gracefully as I slide hanger after hanger of gaudy fabric down the rack. Apparently, middle aged women have the choice either to dress as a rock star groupies or wear Hawaiian prints with pineapple earnings (I may be exaggerating slightly). Unfortunately it takes a little more time and money to find what I like these days – glad I’m not the only one slow-stepping my way through change.


    • Laine, I too go for the “classic” styles. None of the silly and trendy (yes, gaudy) stuff for me, thank you. (We can we just leave the Hawaiian prints for those living or taking vacations on the islands, as far as I am concerned.)

      Indeed, I’m hand in hand with you on the slow-stepping. You’ll excuse me if I step away now and again to try something different every now and again, however. It’s all part of a new “look and see” program.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck on the moving ahead pleatless – sometimes change is exhilarating. Loved it!


    • Thanks, Linda. We’ll find out the first week of January, when the alterations are completed and I pick them up at the store. Exhilarating sounds fun.


  5. My husband loved his pleated pants too in spite of their description as “old man’s pants.” He reluctantly started wearing flat-front pants when he really had no other choice.


  6. Barbara – I think that more young men would also buy pleated pants if they were on the racks. As with all things fashion, we all get corralled into the same narrow band of choices. Your husband should be able to buy a pair of pleated pants at his local department store.

    Yesterday, I watched a middle-aged man carefully going through the slacks. He seemed to be focused on colors. Every pair that he set aside and held up to the side of his body was gray. As I watched, I felt like he too would look sharper in a pair of pleated pants. Who knows, maybe he was always a flat front guy.


  7. Bruce, thank you for expressing this lament to which so many of us can relate. Wanting what we like, not what they sell us. Not the pleats specifically, since I tend toward a poochy belly and pleats amplify that. I’m thrilled to do away with them completely in stretch jeans that, thankfully, I can still get away with at my age. But the zippers! Elyse is spot on – the low rise waist, eensy beensy pockets, 4″ zippers are ridiculous. Luckily – Elyse take comfort – the waistlines and zippers on women’s jeans are finally changing. You should see the high waist, 1980s-era jeans my teenager is wearing now.

    Anyway, I totally feel you on this one. Good luck with the flat fronts, and if that’s the only choice you get in the future, I hope you end up liking them. It could be fun being in the height of fashion for awhile.


    • Hi Crystal – The 1980s are next in line for women’s pants? Maybe pleated pants for men (very 1980s) will be next. And what am I to then do with the 1960s flat fronts I’ll have in closet…?


  8. Believe me, we women have similar complaints/1st world problems in the fashion department. I’d still be in 1970-something-type clothing if not for my very ‘with-it’ daughter, who insists on dressing me up (down, really, right?) so I don’t embarrass my family. Ha Ha. My guy wants to wear his clothes as you do. Years ago he found The Hound (on 140 Sutter Street – ask for Mike) – a haberdashery that believes in keeping up with fashion but also keeping in the fashion of its customers. That place has saved him years of angst. 🙂


    • Pamela – from the sounds of it, these fashion designers and store merchandisers are gender neutral when it comes to making a trip to the clothing store unnecessarily difficult. Crystal reports that there may be help on the way with women’s pants. Let’s see. I’ve passed The Hound many many times over the years. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect I went in when I used to work in the Financial District. I suppose there’s relief at Patrick James, too. But somehow, I just can’t leave my Nordstrom haberdasher. It’s this loyalty thing that makes me behave this way. However, I too may have my limit.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It never fails! I find pants or shoes that I love (or any number of other products), and they change the style!
    I love your last paragraph …
    And your photography is great, too

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurie – you’d think these folks would have the common courtesy to check in with us before they change the styles and leave us high and dry. Right?


  10. Pleading for pleats? It may be a first-world problem, but that does not make it less annoying. Regardless, we are positive you will rock those flat front pants, xo LMA


  11. Clay permalink

    Pleats are just the beginning. Without pleats do you go with cuffs or no cuffs? And then there’s the question of a full break, a half break, or no break!


  12. I rather like the way men look with the pleated pants. Even the heftiest of men look good in them.


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