Like pencil skirts and v-neck tops, wide leg pants are one of those rare garments that work for nearly everyone. The trick is figuring out how to wear them without looking like a clown.
Pair with a Fitted Top
While your top doesn't have to be skin tight, a fitted tee or blouse is your best bet. Avoid anything flow-y or draped. To balance out the proportions of a wider look on the bottom, you need something that stays close to the body on the top. If you have a defined natural waist, a high-waist version will work beautifully on you.
Wear a Pointed Toe
Flats and heels can both work with wide leg pants, as long as they are both the pointed toe variety. This helps to elongate the leg line and make us appear taller. In warmer weather, open toe wedges or stacked sandals are also darling with wide leg pants.
Add a Necklace
Statement earrings rage on, but many of us know the impracticality of wearing large earrings at a desk, on the phone, chasing our kids, etc. Add a necklace to your look for an annoyance-free accessory. The visual interest created by the necklace also provides balance to the look while bringing the eye to your face. Ready to add a wide leg look to your outfit rotation? Shop my picks below.
Shop Wide Leg Pants
Topshop Wide Leg Trousers, $95
Please note that Topshop generally runs small and these pants are no exception. Try 1-2 sizes larger than your normal size. For example, a size 6 woman would need the 8. They have a 33" inseam, so taller ladies rejoice.
Halogen High Waist Wide Leg Pants, $89
Nordstrom's Halogen is one of my go-to brands for affordable, stylish workwear. These pants run large, be sure to order one size down. For example, a size 6 woman would need a 4 in these.
Beltaine Chevron Stripe Wide Leg Pants, $148
For my boho-inclined clients, these comfortable striped pants have been a dream. They run true to size.
Birthed by Style Pantry founder Folake Kuye, her clothing line FKSP features sexy, body-con basics and the only pair of white, wide-leg pants I recommend. Her pants have a 34" inseam so they are also perfect for taller ladies. These pants run true to size, but long.
The Fifth Label Changing Course Pants, $90
Looking for a bottom to pair with your black tops? These chic trousers from The Fifth Label are just the thing. They run true to size.
When my client and friend contacted me for a Day of Style appointment, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to give my blog readers a look behind the scenes. Since I give all my personal styling clients nicknames, this is Miss Medicine. She has appeared on my blog and social media before. In addition to being a wonderful client, she is a dear friend, and always graciously allows me to post her wardrobe on this site. So before we dive in, I want to thank her again for her courage, openness, and support.
Ms. Medicine's Shopping Look
We decided to meet for brunch at Farmer's Bottega and plan out the day. She admitted she felt she had gone off-course after a few too many solo shopping sessions. After we finished eating, we edited her closet at home and decided to return some of those unsatisfying recent purchases. After that closet purge, we went shopping at Fashion Valley. We visited Nordstrom, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, and Ecco. As we were leaving her home, Ms. Medicine was unsure if wearing sneakers to shop was acceptable. Chic sneakers are more than acceptable. They are cute, functional, and on trend, which I commended her for. She was very comfortable in this look and the V-neck on this dress, with the white sneakers, and the Kate Spade cross-body bag gave her a fresh, young vibe, which suits her very well.
I asked Miss Medicine to style herself first, so I could get an idea of how she is currently wearing her clothing. In the look on the left, she wore a black crew neck tee, black leggings, and red knee high boots. In the look on the right, we paired a baby blue blouse with faux suede taupe leggings and a black cardigan. Like many modest women with full busts, Miss Medicine's first instinct is to cover it all up up. However, this tactic actually draws more attention to the chest and can make the woman look larger overall. In the "after" picture, the V neck blouse is more flattering, while still being quite modest. The pendant adds weight to the blouse, indenting her waistline and giving more shape to a flowing top.
With this look, Miss Medicine styled herself in a ruffled polka dot dress with black flats. Again, the crew neckline and an oddly placed ruffle are adding extra weight to the top half of her body. In the "after" picture, a V neck saves the day again. The bohemian style and pattern of the dress is also much more appropriate for her age and personality. The cognac boots add luxury, polish, and interest to the look, while giving the added benefit of extra height.
The look on the left is what Miss Medicine wore to brunch. Because of the scoop neck and the autumnal color palette, this look works pretty well for her. She mentioned that the boots were uncomfortable and decided to return them. Like her, I am petite and have a hard time finding knee high boots that are flattering and comfortable. While not knee length, the cognac pair she purchased from Ecco during our shopping trip will easily replace the taller brown pair in her wardrobe. On the right, we paired her favorite jeans with an emerald green tee we picked up from J.Crew, a black ruffle sleeve blazer, and black kitten heels. The blazer is actually a cropped style, but as we shorter women know, that makes it regular length on us. Both looks are dressy-casual, making them perfect for her lifestyle. Love Miss Medicine's new look? Shop her new wardrobe purchases below.
Shop her Closet
Eliza J. Cropped Jacket, $58.80
Caslon Tie Sleeve Knit Blazer, $59
Vince Camuto Cold Shoulder Blouse, $47.40
Loft Modern Fit Button Fly Jeans, $79.50
Ecco Shape 45 Point Sleek Kitten Heels, $150
Chelsea28 Velvet Burnout Dress, $89.40
Loft Poppy Bloom Dress, $89.50
Kate Spade Triple Drop Earrings, $128
Kate Spade Jackson Street Harlyn Crossbody Bag, $228
Rules were meant to be broken. Regarding the subject of fashion, which is both a form of art and an every day necessity, rules are especially silly. Of course, there are tips and tricks to make one appear taller, leaner, and more polished. We should all learn them so we can look great when giving a presentation, going on a date, or attending an interview. We also need to make room in our closets for a bit of fun. As Picasso said, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."
1. Invest in Basics
I can hear the fashion world ranting as I type this. I used to spout this nonsense myself. My first issue with this piece of oft-repeated advice is its' inherent subjectivity. For some of my clients, a $200 piece would be considered a splurge; for others the cost of a single piece would need to be north of $1,000 for them to bat an eye. Second, we all need to stop saying we're investing in clothing. That is like saying you're investing in your car. The moment you take the tags off, clothing depreciates in value. Finally, the biggest concern I have about spending all our money on staples, is that these garments wear out more quickly than our special occasion clothing. The black pants you wear to the office, your favorite pair of jeans, that grey sweater that goes with everything--you will wash and wear those pieces so often that they will be incapable of lasting forever--no matter the quality. However, as an opponent of fast fashion, I would never recommend we buy cheap junk at a mass retailer. I suggest spending moderately on basics, so they may last a couple years. For garments like basic sweaters and work pants, I suggest spending $50-$200 per piece. My favorite basics are linked below.
2. Buy it in Every Color
We have all heard the adage, "If you love something, buy it every color". I say, stop at two. When you have more than two of the exact same shirt, you are simply splitting your wears. If you have too much of the same thing in your closet, you will ultimately find less value from everything you own. This is because those two shirts both fulfill the same purpose in your wardrobe. A third one would be unnecessary. There is an exception to this, and that is if you are an individual who prefers a self-imposed uniform a la Steve Jobs or Carrie Donovan.
3. No White after Labor Day
I live in Southern California, where rules like this one are especially odd. Many of us are still sporting sandals and sleeveless dresses right now--in January. Personally, I love how white pants pair with tan jackets, blush sweaters, and fair isle prints in true winter fashion. I wrote about this in another post--How to Wear Your White Jeans This Fall.
4. Sparkle is for Evening Only
Metallics are neutrals themselves, and writing off an entire category of neutrals for day wear will lead to a boring, limited wardrobe. Gold flats go with everything, unlike black. Many years ago, I had a bronze metallic leather jacket that went with everything and I still miss it. We would all do well with more sparkle and shine in our daily wardrobes.
5. Always Dress Your Shape
Sometimes, a garment will make your heart sing. It might not be the best article for your body type--it might not even be flattering. If it's comfortable, fabulous, and brings you joy, wear it. Dressing your shape is like wearing makeup, it is for those times when you want to look impeccable, but it is not required to be beautiful.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I take the stress out of getting dressed. I'm a personal fashion stylist in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.