Whether or not you’re jazzed about the fact that loose trousers, flared jeans, and baggy cargo styles are back, it’s time to learn how to style wide-leg pants. The current shift toward roomier pants is only gaining momentum, and considering they’ve been in and out of fashion for decades, even if these styles are only here momentarily, they’re sure to return full-force sooner or later.
The trend of wide-leg pants dates back as early as the 1920s, according to celebrity fashion stylist and host of Fashion Crimes Podcast Holly Katz, when wider-leg pants were worn by women as resortwear (or “beach pajamas”) on vacations. They came back in style during the Age of Aquarius in the 1960s with printed trousers and denim iterations, she adds, and again in the 1990s grunge phase, which is still relevant today.
Considering fashion is cyclical, when thinking about how to style wide-leg pants, you can start by looking to the past. But there are plenty of ways to modernize the look, too. From extra-wide leather trousers to menswear suits to retro-inspired denim, the silhouette has dominated runways for a few seasons now (see The Row, MaxMara, and Altuzarra, just to name a few) and is catching on with celebrities and influeners alike.
But while there is plenty of inspiration out there, styling wide-leg pants can be intimidating. As flattering as they are on a variety of body shapes, one of the biggest misconceptions is that the silhouette will make you look bigger. “There is a level of understanding your own shape, as well as where you like to play with volume, that goes into styling these pants,” says Rebecca Rowe, designer for Rebecca Rowe: Capsule Creator.
“Wide-leg pants also require a great deal of tailoring to make the length work,” Rowe adds. Katz agrees, saying that you should invest in good alterations to make sure the pants look polished and sophisticated. She suggests hemming wide-leg pants around the middle of the back of your heel, so you can wear them with both flats and heels. They should also be properly fitted at the waistline and through the hips.
When done correctly, wide-leg pants are extremely flattering, versatile, and comfortable. Ready to try the trend? Here, stylists share their best tips for how to style wide-leg pants in the seasons ahead.
How to Style Wide-Leg Pants
Pair with a form-fitting or cropped top
Rowe recommends using balance to offset the relaxed nature of the pants with a more structured or form-fitted top, which is probably the easiest way to pull off the trend. “The intention is to allow for your body shape to come through the volume,” she says. “You always want the outfit to look intentional, so if you wouldn’t wear both pieces of your outfit to the same party, they probably don’t work together.”
Style with a cropped sweater or shorter jacket
Katz likes this look best when worn with a high-waist, wide-leg pant. “The higher rise of the pant and shorter sweater will draw attention to your waist, making it look snatched,” she says. She recommends going with a sweater or jacket that hits no lower than your hipbones.
Wear a top that has texture, pattern or shine
If you can get behind a statement top, Katz says that it will draw attention to your top half, adding an illusion of length that balances out the width of the pant. “Adding a belt around the smallest part of your waist, over your shirt, can also create the illusion of a taller silhouette,” she adds.
Try a monochrome power suit
Menswear has always been considered a power-play look, notes Rowe, and this is a great way to tap into the wide-leg pants trend. “If you’re going menswear with the bottom, go all out and pair it with a matching suit jacket up top.”
Finish the look with heels
Wearing wide-leg pants with hemline that covers your heels when standing will elongate the leg. Not only that, but “heels will force you into good posture and give you a subconscious boost in the confidence section,” Rowe says.
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