Wide-leg, lightweight pants are a great-looking and comfortable option in the summer. They are also a cool alternative to shorts and a more stylish option than traditional “capris”. (See more Casual, Cool Alternatives to Shorts here.)
And best of all, they’ll take you into the fall as well, and can be worn casually, dressed up and to the office.
BUT, they are one of the trickiest bottoms to pull off because the success of the look is entirely dependent on balancing proportions and wearing the right top, not to mention the shoes and accessories.
So let’s break down how to wear wide-leg pants, with several outfits that can take you pretty much anywhere this summer and well into the fall too.
How to Wear Wide Leg Pants
We’re all used to full length wide-leg pants, but the crop style is another story. And I hear some of you saying, “no way, Beth – it’s not happening.” If you’re dead set against the style, you can substitute slim ankle pants like these and still create the looks below. But remember, a style that seems crazy to you at first will start to look normal the more it’s around, and this one seems to have staying power. I included some more pictures of them on various shaped and sizes at the bottom of post.
First, let’s talk about what you should look for in the pants. The pair I’m wearing above is from Peach but no longer available but they just came out with a new and better version, the Simone, and you can find them here.
In general, a high-waist gives the illusion of longer legs and is most flattering when worn with a shorter or tucked /half-tucked top.
👉If you’re short-waisted you’ll want to look at pants with more of a mid-rise. Or wear your top untucked and slightly longer (to add length to to your torso). Click here for Dressing Tips for Short Waist Figures.
With regard to pant length, you have options. Because it’s summer, I’m featuring a crop pant. If you want full length instead, the wide-leg pants need to be hemmed perfectly for your height, meaning that when you’re in a shoe, they need to be just about a half inch off the ground.
Long, wide-leg pants lcan make your legs look longer and they look best with a heel, even a low one. If you get yours hemmed, make sure you do it to suit the heel height you’ll be wearing. They’ll look best with a heel that is either pointy or shows your toes.
In the summer especially, I love the look of wide-leg crop pants. Generally, the area around the top of your ankle to the bottom of your calf is the ideal length. Once you start cutting through the middle of your calf, you enter capri territory, and you know I’m not a fan of capris.
👉Remember…you don’t want to put a horizontal line across the widest part of your calf – and this what the traditional capris of yester-year do.
Depending on your frame, the width of the pant may be overwhelming. If that’s the case, you can have these easily altered. If they fit in the waist and hips/rear but are too voluminous in the legs, you can have them hemmed to your most flattering length and ask to have a little bit of fullness taken out. It’s an easy fix and well worth it.
👉Tip for Petites: Instead of opting for a true wide leg with a leg opening between 22-26.5″, go for a pant with a leg opening of 17-20″
The outfits below are ideal for the office, a date, or a small get-together. Go to your closet and plug in similar pieces….keeping in mind proportions!
Clean and Simple: Navy & White
This is one of my favorite looks because it’s elegant yet casual and cool at the same time. It’s the perfect use for a quality white tee that looks especially great knotted on the side or half tucked. The outfts I’m wearing above were insprired by this look.
👉TIP: I use a clear rubber band like these to easily tie a knot without stretching out the top.
This slub scoop neck tee has a great structure which is important. Because the pants are so full, you need a top that will help create balance. If you wear a full, flowy top with wide leg pants, you will just look wide everywhere like a square….not a good look unless your name is Bob (i.e. Sponge Bob… Get it?? 😉
The key to the top is that it be shorter or tucked/half-tucked or fitted and somewhat structured. It DOES NOT have to be skin tight (although a bodysuit would look amazing with these pants) but it also shouldn’t be voluminous.
👉Remember, loose and flowy on the bottom means fitted on top. And loose and flowy on top (a tunic top for example) means fitted on the bottom (i.e. slim fitting pants, skinny jeans, etc).
The statement earrings add a splash of color and I like that they are a contrasting shade of blue, adding interest rather than “matching”. A long, simple pendant necklace works with the earrings without being too much and provides a visual vertical line down the middle that is always flattering.
You could also wear nude shoes, wedges, flats (especially if you’re tall) or block heels. Stay away from very dainty sandals, as the wide leg of the pants would overwhelm them. Again, proportion is key!
Next, this patterned sleeveless top (from Banana Republic) is another pretty option and works well with the wide leg pants because it gathers at the waist, creating a beautiful shape. It’s a pretty top for summer but could also be worn under a jacket this fall, or in the AC this summer. If you don’t like sleeveless, I saw this navy floral blouse….the Banana Republic tops come in regular and petite up to XXL, and are on sale.
I just ordered the Cole Haan sandals shown. They are so comfortable and the heel is moderate in height so still flattering but easy to walk in. And don’t forget your jewlery …it makes the outfit… the finishing touch. See how I show mixed metals above? Have fun and play around with accessories.
Last but not least…a gorgeous navy monochromatic look – always a winner for looking taller and slimmer. I added accents of blush and tan, and accessories with texture to keep it from looking flat. The blouse has some texture and adds interest with the buttons and sleeve details…the key to monochromatic dressing. And the peplum waist provides shape and structure too.
That’s it! I hope you found this informative and maybe you’re willing to give wide-leg pants a try. They are yet another option if you don’t like wearing shorts or leg-baring skirts….And, they still let you stay cool and stylish….and are so much better-looking than dated capris! (Here’s another post with more ideas for alternatives to shorts).
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