Wide-Leg Pants: Breaking down the Trend (read time 7:46)

You've seen the memes. You've seen the styling tips and you've questioned, "How in the bloody h-e-double-L am I supposed to pull off the wide-leg pant trend?" Well, at least it's not the low rise jean trend. 

Like any tailored trend for women, the wide-leg pant trend originated within mens fashion. Wide-legged pants were seen on a women’s frame as early as the 1910’s but the functionality of the time wasn’t there. They were also considered "workwear". Not part of the elite fashion scene at the time. The credit for wide-leg pants becoming stylish is given to Coco Chanel, who wore wide-leg pants with her signature knit top and pearls in the 1920’s.

coco chanel in wide-leg pants in 1920
[photo: Coco Chanel in the 1920's. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons]


Since then, the wide-leg silhouette has been in and out of the fashion scene in the 1930’s; with the slinky, silky, almost pyjama-like feel made popular by Ginger Rogers, and again in the 1940’s; with Vivienne Lee and Katherine Hepburn wearing menswear-inspired trousers that sported a wide leg.

Ginger Lee in wide-leg pants(Ginger Rogers)

The 2022 trend that we’re seeing now is most reminiscent of the 1960’s and 70’s with the high waisted palazzo pant, originally designed by Emilio Pucci. This cut featured an accentuated waist and skimmed over the hip, which was flattering on both slender and curvy women. 

The question of “how long has the wide-leg pant been in?” is easy to answer because trends work in cycles. About every 30 years since they first became a part of women’s everyday style the wide-leg trend has made a "comeback"  

"Okay... but why are they trendy now?" 

It’s a “new” shape. Fashion is always about discovering, or rediscovering, new shapes and ways to manipulate our shapes. The human brain gets bored with the "same" It's good for us in that this "uniform way of living" can open up time and space for us to explore but we get bored. Bored means find new things, develop new drama, make new adventure, sometimes that's as easy as switching the silhouette of our pants. 

The average shape of Americans (and Canadians) is changing. Different body shapes becoming more and more popular within mainstream beauty standards (insert dancing gif here), fashion has - been forced - to bring back styles that are flattering on most shapes. Nothing is ever perfect, but a wide-leg pant is a very flattering shape for women who carry their weight in their hips, as well as for women who are slim.


"How do I style wide-leg pants?"

Question I have for you, "Do the pants fit you?"

The wide-leg trouser, although very flattering on many body shapes, is not the most forgiving for body heights. It requires a great deal of tailoring for the length to make the look work for your particular style and shape. 

[You can tailor anything to fit you including the rise of your pants to hit you at your natural waist and the length. ]

There is a level of understanding your own shape, and where (and if) you like to play with volume, that goes into your personal style. *Note: if you don't like playing with shape or volume then the wide-leg pant trend isn't for you.

Is it challenging? It doesn’t have to be. Will it be? Probably!

The biggest challenge most people have when exploring a new style is the mental blocks that come along with it. You’ve trained your eyes to see what you think looks good on you. As you explore a new shape, you force yourself to think differently. Your brain will put up roadblocks, saying “No! Don’t try this. You look ______ [insert negative self talk here].” 

The easiest way to get over this fear is to have your best friend take a photo of you. Not yourself and not your partner (I know you love them). Unless you have yourself an Instagram spouse, get someone who knows how to grab your best angle to take a photo of you.

Look at the photo objectively, and make the decision if it’s a look you’re comfortable with.  

part deux: 

Styling wide-leg pants can be really fun, especially because there are so many variations of the same look.

The menswear-inspired trouser:
Go heels with this one! Menswear has always been considered a power-play look. Heels will force you into good posture, elongate your leg, and give you a subconscious boost in the confidence section.

If you’re going menswear with the bottom, go all out and pair it with a suit jacket. (Another 2022 trend!)



(Fendi SS21/Vogue)


The Psychedelic 70’s Print
These wild prints have been all over the runways this season, and mixing a few trends together is always fun. If you’re rocking these STATEMENT pants where you’re playing with volume, colour, and print, consider pairing it with a classic shaped and coloured top.

Cynthia Rowley
(Cynthia-Rowley SS21/Vogue)

The Beach Pant
This version of a wide-leg pants makes you crave a margarita and a tan. They are usually made of flowy or silky fabric and have a lot of volume. Use balance to offset the flowing nature of the pant with a more structured or form-fitted top. The intention is to allow for your body shape to come through the volume.

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.

Fendi SS22
(Fendi SS21/Vogue)

Other trends to try with the wide-leg pant:

Monochromatic: Wearing a singular colour hue throughout our entire outfit. Using shape and texture to add interest to your look.

Chloé SS21
(Chloé SS22/Vogue)

Platform Heels: Go full 70’s and pair these chunky, fun heels with the wide leg trouser. The thickness of the heel makes them more comfortable to walk in, and adds a playful element to your look. NOTE: The hem of the pant should hit past your ankle, but not drag on the floor.

Chanel SS22

(Chanel SS21/ Vogue)

The Cropped Wide Leg (The Palazzo Pant): Wear in the winter with high boots tucked under - great way to wear this trend if you have snow where you live! Or with a bralette or sheer top for those lucky enough to live somewhere warm. 

wide leg pant trend in 2022
(Edward Berthlot/GETTY IMAGES)


Volume on Volume: This is where you match volume on the lower half - the wide leg pant - with volume on top. Picture a flowy or oversized top. The trick to this is to still get a hint of your shape underneath. This can be achieved with where the top has been hemmed to (usually best at your waist), a sheer or thin fabric, or with structured accessories.

Chanel SS22(Chanel SS21/Vogue)


SO, should you try wide-leg pants?

Take some chances with evolving your style, even if it feels a bit strange at first. Exploring new shapes is a great way to explore a new style while not pushing yourself too far out of your comfort zone.  

Here is an example of a wide leg pant outfit for casual and a wide leg pant outfit for work. Both use the same pant but worn in different ways. The casual look is looser with a tucked in long sleeve and sneakers whereas the professional look keeps a monochrome colour palette and fancier fabrics.

wide leg pant outfit casual.   wide leg pant outfit for work


Here is the wide leg pant look on a petite model (5'4"). We've styled both looks to have the focal point be up around her neck. On the left with the chunky necklace and on the left with the floral on top. Another trick was used with the pointed toe on the left side look where we elongated the leg. The right side look was kept casual with a pair of white sneakers.

wide leg pant outfit for petite

 

The most important part of wearing a wide leg pant outfit is that it feels like you. It's okay to feel strange when wearing a new shape. This could feel like a clenching in your stomach or nervousness. These symptoms can also be attributed to excitement! 

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