Court of Petty Appeals: In re Pleats

In re Pleats

303 U.Va. 295 (2019)

Schmid, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Justice Schmid, for the Court.


Before the Court is an appeal from the Court of Petty Fashion Claims, pertaining to a matter of direct relevance to the fashion-conscious law students of our fine institution. Faced with the re-entry of pleated pants into the rarified air of high fashion, Plaintiffs, a class of “fashionable and highly refined law students,” plead to this Court for style justice to halt this alleged fashion abomination. For the unaware, pleats are creases sewn into the front of pants, commonly found in men’s dress slacks. These creases, ostensibly to allow more freedom of movement for the wearer, cause excess fabric to bunch up below the waist. Pleated pants reached peak popularity in the ’80s and ’90s, see Any ‘90s Sitcom Set in an Office, and largely faded from the public’s fashion consciousness in the 2010s. 

Certain fashion designers, including Defendants, have attempted to revive the outmoded style of pleats. First, they placed minor pleats on women’s trousers and now are attempting to flood the market of men’s dress pants with pleats. Plaintiffs, fearing that full market saturation of pleats will leave no safe harbor for the proponent of tailored trousers, seek relief from this Court.

The learned judge below, while of unparalleled judicial acumen, is allegedly a man of less than dapper vestments[1] whom Plaintiffs allege erred in granting Defendants “judgment on the pleatings.”  Plaintiffs allege trespass, nuisance, and tortious interference against the entire fashion industry and the defendant fashion designers named herein. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the clearly erroneous decision of the court below and fully grant all of Plaintiffs’ requested relief.


In resolving this case, a look to the petty courts of other jurisdictions have proven fruitless. Inexplicably, the issue of pleated pants has been given scant attention by judges, a typically fashion-deficient bunch.[2] There is one English case, Rex v. Royal Garment and Haberdashery of East-Westforshire-Essex-upon-Thames to take up the issue of pleats. However, there are eight different judges writing for the court, three of them named “Smith,” and this Court simply has no idea what rule is supposed to be discerned.

            Defendants’ brief claims fashion immunity, as they can “do whatever the hell [they] want and people will buy [their] clothes regardless. So deal with it.” We appreciate Defendants’ attempt to appeal to our sense of caprice, but they will not be rewarded in the case at bar. Our propensity for arbitrariness will not dissuade us from arresting the encroachment of pleated pants on the fashion market. In the alternative, Defendants contend that this claim is simply far too petty even for this Court. See Brief for Respondents (“Aren’t you guys law students? Don’t you have anything better to do?”) We categorically reject that there is an issue of any level of pettiness that cannot be rightfully claimed to be within our jurisdiction. See Section C Civ Pro v. That One Really Squeaky Chair in WB 105, 288 U.Va. 578 (2014). Furthermore, we reject Defendants’ argument that it is not the proper role of this Court to rule on matters of fashion and style. Such a claim is patently false for two main reasons. First, we refer Defendants to Rule of Petty Procedure 1: “We do what we want.” Second, Defendants clearly did not bother to read our precedents, as this Court has a long and storied tradition of adjudicating fashion disputes, dating back decades. See Class of 1976 v. Professors (1975) (finding a prima facie nuisance claim against any professor for whom the width of his tie exceeds the length). Have Defendants forgotten about the landmark case of 2L Britney Spears Wannabes v. Coalition Against Low-Rise Jeans, 215 U.Va. 213 (2002)?


Pleated pants are a nuisance, as they involve an amount of fabric that is wholly unnecessary, both stylistically and functionally. While pleats may have been necessary when trousers were made out of heavy, stiff fabric that restricted the wearer’s movements, modern fabrics are more comfortable and allow better freedom of movement. When sartorial advances render formerfashion trends obsolete, this Court feels obliged to intervene. Secondly, dicta from the case of Preppy East Coast 1Ls v. JNCO Jeans, 210 U.Va. 614 (1997) demonstrates this Court’s stylistic aversion to excessive fabric. It is argued that this Court is not well-equipped to establish a bright line rule regarding when the amount of fabric becomes “excessive.” While there can be difficulty in determining when the boundary of excessive fabric has been crossed, we know it when we see it, and pleated pants clearly contain far more fabric than is necessary. Moreover, pleated pants are a tortious interference with the enjoyment of the fashion scene of every stylish, 21st-century individual. The fabric of our nation is inexorably reflected by the fabric of our trousers, and this Court remains the vigilant guardian against the return of fashion trends best left to the annals of history.

As it relates to Plaintiffs’ trespass claim, we are in accord with Plaintiffs’ concerns about the potential resurgence of pleated pants dominating the market and displacing their non-pleated cohorts. Pleated pants have controlled the market once, and this Court will not allow such a takeover again. There’s an old saying: fool me once… shame on––wait, shame on who again? Well, if you fool us, we can’t get fooled again. We hope to avoid a scenario in which Plaintiffs will be forced to have their suits custom made to keep their clothing fashionable and pleat-less.


We grant Plaintiffs’ requested relief of damages and a permanent injunction against the design, production, and marketing of pleated trousers. Additionally, this Court has decided, sua sponte, to compel Defendants to burn any and all pleated pants in their possession to appease the snakes in Withers-Brown.

The judgment of the Court of Petty Fashion Claims is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court’s opinion and sense of style.

It is so ordered.


Justice Welch, dissenting.

Have you ever seen Michael Cera as George Michael Bluth? He was born to wear pleated pants. Accordingly, I dissent.

[1] Plaintiffs’ claim that the judge wore a brown belt with black shoes further lends credence to this conclusion.

[2] Justice Ginsburg and her phenomenal dissent collars being an obvious exception.