Wide-Leg Pants

MORE’s resident style expert shows how to wear wide-leg pants.

By Charla Krupp
Fashion expert Charla Krupp. (Photo: Michael Waring)

Wide-Leg Pants for Grown-UpsI was at a holiday dinner recently when the conversation turned to fashion, and my cousin’s cousin Debbie, a teacher on Long Island, turned to me and stated matter-of-factly, "If you wore the trend the first time around, you can’t wear it again." I can’t believe women have taken this rule to heart. Yes, fashion experts say it all the time, and it probably does steer those who are still tempted by hot pants in the right direction. But it’s unnecessary for stylish women over 40 who know how to wear a trend. Consider the breakneck speed at which fashion trends are being recycled and think of the clothes and accessories we’d miss just because we wore them in what seems like another lifetime: capes, military jackets, tunics, wrap dresses, sailor pants, long pearls, big cocktail rings, puffer jackets, voluminous sleeves — and wide-leg trousers, which I’ll get to in a minute.One thing about our generation is that we still crave the thrill of the new. Do we honestly look like the kind of women who would be happy to restrict ourselves to boring basics for the rest of our lives? So let’s amend the rule: If you wore a trend the first time around, you’re not going to wear it again in exactly the same way.Take those wide-legs, the best pants of the season. The old look was very Charlie’s Angels: wide from high waist to hem; a tight poor boy sweater or stretchy leotard that bared every bulge; a big leather belt with oversize oval buckles; high, clunky platform shoes. Wide-legs now are longer and leaner, with a clean, hip-slimming waistline and legs that flare just enough to disguise the thighs while creating the illusion of a nipped-in middle. On top is a feminine blouse that ties at the neck, a trapeze-shaped shrunken jacket or a sexy cropped top. I’m sure there are those who are shaking their heads, doubting that wide-leg pants are flattering. I had my doubts too, until I tried on every pair here and discovered that a mannish trouser that defines the waist can make even a petite (in her highest heels) look and feel toweringly stately. The pair I thought would look the worst — the silk ones — actually looked the best. Here are a few things I learned about wide-legs.

  • You can’t judge them on the hanger. You have to try them on.
  • There are modified wide-legs and extreme wide-legs; you probably want the first ones.
  • To tuck or not to tuck? When in doubt, keep it out. Layered still looks cool.
  • Stay clear of such distractions as puckering side pockets, wild colors, fancy fabrics and dizzying patterns. The width is enough of a statement. You’ll look thinner in a neutral solid like black, gray, beige, navy, or brown.
  • The extra leg room is a dream for a pear-shape body — the antidote to last season’s skinny slacks, which showed every ripple. To be honest, if you’re both short and squat, this still might not be the best pant for you.
  • If you’re not tall, wear your sky-high chunky shoes (not skinny stilettos). But remember, chunky doesn’t have to be clunky, like the platforms of old.

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