How To Wear Wide-Leg Pants
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Bigger is better, right? But how big is too big and how wide is too wide? These are the questions that keep some people awake at night.
Sadly, we can’t answer all of them, but we can answer the most important of them all—how to wear wide-leg pants.
It’s not as easy as putting them on one leg at a time, but it’s also not as complex as you might think.
Keep reading to find out how they rose to prominence, how you can style them, when the best time to wear them is, and a few things you should avoid when wearing them. Let’s get started!
What Are Wide-Leg Pants?
Before you can learn how to wear wide-leg pants, you must know what they are. Wide-leg pants are exactly what they sound like: they’re trousers with legs that are wider than a standard straight cut.
There’s no upper limit to how wide they can be. But, it can sometimes get too ridiculous to the point that they just look silly.
Most wide-leg pants aren’t actually that wide. However, they are roomier than other fits—especially skinny jeans—and they have a more forgiving shape.
People prefer them because they have an effortless vibe and are fairly comfortable depending on the material.
Depending on where you shop, you’ll notice that most wide-leg pants are high–waisted.
I assume that’s because it’s the manufacturer’s way to account for the pants’ inherent bagginess. Wearing the pants above the waist is an easy way to prevent looking sloppy.
On a similar note, some wide-leg pants are either tapered or cropped. This is done so that there’s some balance to their shape. Flared wide-leg pants are a thing, we love them, but they’re harder to style for people who aren’t already versed in fashion fundamentals.
History Of Wide-Leg Pants
Before exploring how to wear wide-leg pants further, I’ll touch on their backstory. Trying to cover the entire history of wide-leg pants would involve digging into the history of pants as a whole.
Instead of telling you about how cavemen spent hours stitching together their first sets of trousers, I’m going to start off when wide-leg pants earned a reputation for themselves.
Baggy pants have always been associated with hip–hop and urban culture. Rappers wore them in the 1980s since they improved the visual flair of breakdancing and rebelled against the tight-and-bright mainstream styles of the decade.
Specifically, MC Hammer ushered them into public consciousness with his famous hammer pants, which were wide-leg trousers with a tapered ankle.
As with everything else in the 1990s, wide-leg pants became even more extreme. People made them baggier and wider and they were associated with more niche interests.
Rappers and b-boys were no longer leading the baggy pants movement. Skateboarders, pop-punk bands, electronic music enjoyers, and fashionistas began adding the style to their rotation.
However, their surge in popularity wasn’t fated to last. They grew out of style in the public’s eye in the mid–2000s and the only people who still wore them were rappers in the bling era.
They were still around, but many people dropped them like they were hot potatoes.
Eventually, even rappers moved away from baggy pants in favor of skinny jeans. Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa, for example, were nearly always seen in tight pants rather than the wide-leg variety that was famous only years prior.
That’s all changed nowadays. Retro fashion is making a comeback—particularly the styles from the ‘90s—and that means that people are finding new ways to wear baggy pants.
Today, people welcome the relaxed and loose-fitting silhouette of wide-leg pants.
When To Wear Wide-Leg Pants
Spring and summer are the best seasons to wear wide-leg pants. The warm weather is perfect for lighter fashion and most baggy pants nowadays are breathable.
These are the times of the year when relaxed fits are at their most ubiquitous and when you can get away with prioritizing comfort.
Speaking of comfort, wide-leg pants are great for low-key events and occasions. Casual parties, sunny days spent in the park, and walks around the neighborhood are perfect times for you to break out your widest pants.
How To Wear Wide-Leg Pants
When trying to figure out how to wear wide-leg pants, there are a few key principles to keep in mind. These aren’t laws by any means but they are handy tips you can rely on if you’re trying to troubleshoot your outfits.
It’s incredibly helpful to know how to balance your outfit when you wear wide-leg pants.
Whether that means wearing a slim shirt or hiking them up so that they end before your ankles, finding some way to limit how baggy the pants look will help your outfit look put together.
I also encourage you to tuck your shirt into your pants if you can. This works better with casual tops like T-shirts and undershirts, but you’d be surprised how well it works with certain button-up shirts as well.
Lastly, wide-leg pants are probably the best style of trousers to wear with bulky sneakers. They can match the shoe’s size so that it doesn’t look like there’s too much going on beneath your knees.
5 Outfit Ideas With Wide-Leg Pants
You might think it’s impossible to know how to wear wide-leg pants and still look manly and muscular. Well, if they can put a man on the moon, then surely there’s a way to make the impossible possible once again.
We recommend implementing a look similar to this one if you’re a more muscular person and want to show off your frame while looking fashionable.
Here, the high waisted wide-leg pants help accentuate the model’s physique. The pants end right at the ankles so they don’t droop over the shoes and therefore have a cleaner silhouette.
Speaking of silhouette, the tight T-shirt is essential for maintaining that brick house–like appearance. It separates the upper body from the lower body and provides a different set of proportions.
Also, it’s a great way to show off your upper body muscles like the delts, lats, and arms.
I might as well break another unfounded fashion assumption since I’ve already dismissed one. People think that men cannot wear wide-leg pants in formal settings.
Why they falsely believe that is beyond my comprehension because this look shows how to wear wide-leg pants in a professional setting.
It follows a similar concept to the last outfit we saw—contrasting fits on the upper and lower body. This idea can allow you to maintain a business-friendly look where it matters most on your body (i.e. the upper portion).
A baggy sweater would look far too casual for this outfit to be suitable in any workplace with a dress code.
In reality, this ensemble isn’t too far off from most office clothing regulations. The key difference is the wide-leg pants, but they also add so much character that I can’t recommend them enough.
As long as you keep the rest of the garments snug to your body then you might be the most fashion-forward man in your cubicle.
One of the easiest ways to prevent giving yourself a headache by thinking too how about how to wear wide-leg pants is to wear a monochromatic outfit.
Wearing a single color from top to bottom can reduce the flared shape of certain wide-leg pants. This can make them easier to style because you don’t have to worry about the pants looking too big.
These white wide-leg pants are a perfect example of that concept in action. They’re a slight cream color so they’re a bit more unique than a standard pair of white trousers.
This model intelligently built off of that shade by wearing a basic white shirt, tucking it into her pants, and letting the shoes and accessories stand out.
She’s wearing a few simple pieces of jewelry that are in line with the rest of her outfit’s vibe. They’re all lowkey. The jewelry adds the finishing touch to a chill outfit that shows how a little can go a long way.
Let’s build upon the monochromatic theme with this iconic outfit from Hulk Hogan. I’m not joking when I say that this is one of our prime sources of inspiration about how to wear wide-leg pants.
It is so cool, so ‘90s, and so over-the-top without actually being that outrageous that it’s perfect for today’s fashion landscape.
Do you need to be a six-time WWE champion to rock this style? Of course not. You don’t even need to dye your beard and have a killer handlebar mustache, although that wouldn’t hurt.
The highlight of this outfit is Hulk’s JNCO jeans, which are notoriously baggy. They envelop his shoes and dominate his lower body. That style is making a comeback, so I encourage you to experiment with it.
You’ll also see that Hogan uses the tried-and-tested principle of pairing wide-leg pants with a fitted shirt. He even tucks the shirt into his pants to clean up his torso’s shape.
And what is that around his waist? Is that a leather fanny pack? Yeah, case closed—Hogan knew the coolest way to wear wide-leg pants.
Goths and scene kids may have held a stranglehold on skinny jeans in the mid-aughts, but nowadays they’re making huge waves with their wide-leg pants.
This outfit in particular is a rather rogue way to add women’s wide-leg pants to your arsenal.
Besides the look’s obvious goth aesthetic, here’s the real reason why I included it on this list: because it shows how you can elongate your legs with wide-leg pants.
These pants sit right above the hips so they already make you look taller, but they also end above the ankles.
If done incorrectly this style could make you appear as if you heard about a flood warning on the radio. But allow me to explain why that’s not the case here.
The smart addition of combat boots bridges the gap between the pants and shoes. There’s no negative space between the pants and the boots so there’s basically one line from the waist to the ground.
The bottom of the pants does flare out a bit when they enter the combat boots, but you could easily do without that by tucking them deeper into the shoes.
Also, I have to mention the importance of the crop top. Showing a bit of midriff also increases the perceived length of your body.
You could achieve a similar effect from a regular long-sleeved T-shirt or a turtle neck, but the crop top drives the point home just that much more.
What Type Of Wide-Leg Pants Outfits Can You Get?
We’re spoiled with how many types of wide-leg pants we can get. You can buy them in nearly every fabric—from denim to wool to linen—and in every width.
No matter what your definition of ‘wide’ is, you’ll be able to find a pair that suits you.
For instance, if you consider ‘wide’ to be slightly larger than average then you’ll just as easily be able to find pants as someone who thinks wide-leg pants are synonymous with parachute pants.
How To Choose The Best Wide-Leg Pants Outfits
Before you choose to purchase a pair of wide-leg pants, make sure you can answer the following questions. Doing so will help you choose the best wide-leg pants for you.
- How will the pants work with the other items in my wardrobe?
- Are they made with a heavy fabric or with a lighter material?
- Are the pants high-waisted?
- How much do they cost?
- Which brand is producing the pants?
- How long are they?
- Can I wear them on multiple occasions or only in specific circumstances?
How To Style Wide-Leg Pants Outfits
You can style wide-leg pants in different contexts. Like some of my earlier examples pointed out, baggy pants aren’t just for raves and skateboarding.
You can wear them in more business casual settings or on date nights too.
Doing so requires coordinating them with the rest of your outfit. If you want to wear wide-leg pants in a less casual atmosphere then I advise you to calm down the rest of your pieces as much as possible.
This means sticking to plain colors, standard fits, and minimalist shoes.
If you want to be really explosive with your style, then wide-leg pants are the best trousers to wear. They allow you to wear your loudest sneakers, graphic tees, and other attention-grabbing items and still look put together.
Fashion Tips To Avoid With Wide-Leg Pants Outfits
There used to be so many rules about how to wear wide-leg pants and how to not wear them that at one point it was nearly sacrilegious to even have them in your closet.
Thankfully, things are a bit more relaxed these days. That said, there are a few ways you can screw up your outfit if you’re not careful.
My biggest piece of advice is to balance your wide-leg pants with a slimmer T–shirt. It’s possible to pull off a baggy on top and bottom look, but more often than not you’ll look like Soulja Boy at the 2007 BET Awards.
There’s another big mistake that Soulja Boy made with that outfit that you can learn from. Given that it was 2007, it’s safe to assume that he was wearing his pants below his waist—which is not only dated but also incredibly unflattering.
These days I’d recommend that you wear your wide-leg pants either at your waist or a bit higher. That’s also why more wide-leg pants are high-waisted.
Also, remember that ‘wide-leg’ doesn’t mean ‘ill-fitting.’ So, avoid wearing pants that are too long for your legs.
I mentioned Hulk Hogan’s JNCO jeans outfit earlier to show the absolute longest your wide-leg pants should be. If you wear a pair that falls over your shoes then you’re probably going to have trouble walking.
How To Take Care Of Wide-Leg Pants Outfits
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to maintain your wide-leg pants. How you take care of them depends on the material, their value, and whether you bought them brand new or second-hand.
In general, if you want to keep your pants in good condition, then I recommend taking these steps:
- Only wash them in cold water
- Wash them with similar colored items
- Hang dry them
- Get them tailored by a professional if you require modifications
Best Places To Buy Wide-Leg Pants Outfits
Considering that vintage stores can be treasure chests containing some of the best pieces that you won’t find anywhere else, I recommend shopping there.
They’re one of the top places to buy wide-leg pants. The only downside is that you can’t preview their collection before you go so it’s possible that they won’t have anything that appeals to you.
Here are some of the best wide-leg pants producers:
- Five CM
- Issey Miyake
Wide-leg pants can be a bit of a fashion hack. If you know how to wear them correctly then they’re the easiest way to add some personality to your outfits.
They don’t have to be the centerpiece of a look either. They’re just as good at blending in as they are at standing out. With that in mind, I encourage you to play around with these pants until you find a way to make them work for you.
Looking to up your fashion game? We’ve got you covered: