Done right, wide leg trousers can give you towering legs and a tiny waist. Get it wrong and you can look downright dumpy. So let’s get acquainted with the dos and don’ts of wide leg trouser styling.

Yes you can breathe a sigh of relief – the never ending reign of the skinny leg is finally waining. Step aside drain pipes, your more sophisticated, flattering cousin the wide leg is has arrived and is here to stay.

Wide leg trousers started springing up on all the major style influencers last year, and this year they’re taking the rightful place they deserve in everyone’s wardrobes.

But given our indoctrination in skinny leg dressing of the last decade plus, are you finding the switch to a wide style of leg just doesn’t come naturally?

Trust me, you’ll get used to it. In fact you’ll be all over it once you realise how effortlessly stylish and comfortable wide leg trousers really are.

But I’m here to help by giving you practical advice on:

  • What type of wide leg trousers to buy in the first place
  • What items to wear with wide leg trousers
  • How to put it all together for maximum impact

So here are some tips for how to ensure you are rocking this trend to the absolute max.

 

1. Choose streamline styles

First things first, let’s establish what’s flattering and what’s not when it comes to wide leg styles. Because let’s face it, this is a trend that brings with it the good, the bad and the ugly.

High waists are a very good thing

You are skinniest at your natural waist, so it’s the perfect point of your body to emphasise. And the higher the waist, the longer the leg illusion becomes.

Avoid frills and embellishments

You are trying to create a long lean silhouette, where the eye moves effortlessly up your mile long legs. You don’t want a single distraction from this.

Colour block changes or big turn up details

For the same reason I just stated – you don’t want the eye stopping until it gets to your minescule looking waist (believe me it will look nano compared to the wide bottomed silhouette of your legs). A colour change halfway down your leg will achieve the exact opposite effect – that of stubby legs. Don’t do it.

Tailored fit

Tailored waist bands where the fabric skims or hugs the body at the top and then falls into a wide but straight leg is a completely safe bet. Buy them. Now.

Elasticated waist

Big no no. Unless you are going to cover it with a belt. They are generally very unflattering.  

Crazy wide legs

There are limits, and ridiculously wide legs are beyond where I’m prepared to go. Especially give ultra wide leg trousers a wide berth if you are short. This camel pair (pictured on the right) is about as wide as I think anyone should go.

Choose fabric with a little structure to it

Baggy floaty styles are for the beach – if you want to rock this look elsewhere I’d suggest a material with at least a bit of crispness to it. The more floaty the fabric, the less streamline it tends to look.

Try a paper bag waist

Paperbag waists are bang on trend and can be extremely flattering. Be sure to pay attention to the points below about snug tops and tucking in. You definitely want to be showing off the waistline in these.

Avoid pattern

Controversial I know, but I just think wide leg trousers look way more sophisticated when they are plain. Or checked, that’s ok too. And possibly spots or stripes. But big busy patterns – I just think they’re far from flattering in most cases. Tread very carefully.

Experiment with bright colours as well as neutrals

Neutral wide leg trousers will serve you well for years to come, but don’t dismiss bright hues. They are show stopping, on trend and flattering too.

wide leg trousers

2. Achieve floor skimming perfection

Your shoes should peep out and your trousers should look like they are skimming the floor, with out touching or puddling. 1/2 inch from the floor should do it. And don’t try and hedge your bets midway between the length for heels and the length for trainers- choose one and stick to it, otherwise they will always look wrong.

Or

3. Go cropped

Wide leg crops look awesome with pointed court shoes or barely there sandals. Holly Willoughby is the master of this look. Google “holly willoughby wide leg culottes” and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve been pondering on why this style of wide legs (or culottes, call them what you want) looks so good and I think it’s the combo of nipping you in at the waist combined with the wide leg making your ankles look skinny as in comparison.

 

This look is perfect for office to night out transition. It’s smart and sassy, but also pretty sexy too.

wide leg trousers

4. Pair with a snug top

The wide leg trouser look is all about balance and elongation. Because you’re giving your lower body a lot of volume, you would be wise to do the opposite on your top half. Think crisp fitted shirts, camisoles, snug lightweight jumpers, slogan tees, knotted shirts and boxy cropped tops.

WHAT?! A cropped top – never.

I agree, and I’m not talking about anything that actually exposes your midriff (unless you’ve got one worth exposing, in which case flash away). I’m talking about structured crop tops that skim the top of your waist band. Elegant and modern.

 

wide leg trousers
wide leg trousers
wide leg trousers
wide leg trousers

5. Tuck in or front tuck

The wide leg trouser lives to create the illusion of a nipped in waist, and it can’t do its job if you drown it under a baggy top. So at the very least a front tuck is a good idea, and in most cases the full tuck is the way forward.

I’d say the main exception to this is if you have a very fitted top or jumper, or an item that can be nipped in at the waist with a belt. Then there’s room to negotiate on this point.

 

wide leg trousers

6. Wear a belt

Yes that’s right, I’m banging on about belts again. But with good reason. If you want to shave a few inches off your waist, the very easiest way to do that is to cinch it all in with a belt.

If the waist band of your wide leg trousers sits below your natural waist, this will give you a wider waist than it would if it were higher, but it can still look good. Generally you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong when throwing a belt into the mix.

7. Wide leg trousers with heels

It’s the ultimate leg lengthener. And without the heels you run the risk of the trousers wearing you, rather than you wearing the trousers. And I know how we all like to wear the trousers.

So for the shorties among us, heels are borderline essential to really rock this look. Tall ladies, you can get away with a much more comfortable option, but if you are prepared to don heels, you’ll look like a model.

 

wide leg trousers

In the summer wedges are a great option because you can hide them away under the long trouser leg and still have the comfort factor of a wedge.

8. With trainers

Now I know I just touted the brilliance of the heel with wide legs, but I have seen a few influencers really rocking the wide leg trousers and trainers combo. I have tried and I’m not completely stoked about the result (see photo to the right) – but I’m 5 ft 2, so that might explain it.

All these ugly trainers that are in right now do have the advantage of having monster soles, so that look might work for you.

Or just make sure you obey rules 4 and 5 above. And go as high waisted as possible to keep the leg length long even without the heels.

9. With a blazer

This is veering into the suit territory, but given how cool and casual suits are at the moment, I wouldn’t let this worry you even if you have no need to wear a suit. Get one on anyway!

Whether you go for a longer line blazer, or a shorter one, make sure it is very well fitted. Oversize blazers and wide leg trousers are not a good

 

wide leg jeans

match. You run the risk of looking like you’ve just raided a jumble sale. Or your dad’s closet.

When opting for a blazer keep the under garment minimal. A camisole is the perfect choice. Or a thin roll neck jumper for cooler days.

 

10. Monochromatic look

Monochromatic dressing is definitely having it’s moment right now. I know beige was the biggie on the fashion week catwalks, but I’m seeing pink, green, lilac, orange, yellow, red all pop up on instagram, and I’m loving it. The brighter the better.

The trend for tutti frutti suits (see post on spring summer 2019 trends) is all intertwined with this monochromatic trend. Because really if you pop on a suit, you’re only one top away from monochromatic.

This is a pretty simple look to pull off. Grab yourself some wide leg trousers and a top in the same colour (the shade can be different) and you’re there. Throw in a matching coat/jacket, accessories – even better.

I personally think it’s good to have a bit of interest in some way, shape or form. Here are some ways you can do that:

 

  1. Different shades of the same colour – vary it a little to add interest
  2. Texture – chunky wools, smooth knits, velvet, cotton, linen, fur etc – any change in texture can make a monochromatic outfit pop
  3. Features – maybe a bow, a fringe, a ruffle or a feather – anything like this stand out in a monochromatic ensemble
  4. Contrast – just a little pop of contrast doesn’t hurt does it? Shoes, belts and handbags are great ways to introduce a pattern (animal print for instance) or a contrasting colour.

Shop the look

Here’s a little list of everything I’m wearing and where I got the items from.  Bold indicates the brand, and italics indicates where I bought the item.   Some of these items are still available and are linked in the carousel below.

 

  • Boden Windsor Wide Leg Jeans (current) £44
  • Boden Constance Silk Blouse (current) £44.80
  • Karen Millen red shoes from eBay £28
  • Red bag from Oxfam £3
  • Zalando Red belt £14
  • Powder sunglasses £30
Wide leg jeans
Powder Britt Sunglasses
Red Leather belt
Yan Show Handbag
Carvela Kestrel
Nine West Flagship
Boden Constance Blouse
Boden Windsor Wide Leg Jeans
Powder Britt Sunglasses
Red Leather belt
Yan Show Handbag
Carvela Kestrel
Nine West Flagship
Boden Constance Blouse
Boden Windsor Wide Leg Jeans

Shop the look

Here’s where I sourced what I’m wearing.  And below you’ll find a selection of similar items you can buy now. Text in intalics below shows the brand, and bold indicates where I bought the items.  Sometimes the same if I bought the item new, sometimes not.

  • H&M silky blouse from eBay £3
  • Vintage Flares from the Mare & Foal Sanctuary Charity shop £1
  • Biba leopard print handbag from Sue Ryder Charity Shop £15 
  • Michael Kors gold and snake print court shoes from eBay £4
  • Banana Republic wide zebra belt from eBay £7.50
  • Marks & Spencer necklace from Rowcroft Hospice £4.50
  • Powder Sunglasses £30

 

eBay search techniques
Duco Sunglasses
Blevet Sunglasses
Biba Leopard Print Handbag
Women’s Party Animal Zebra Belt
Magnificent Pointed Court Heels
Zebra belt
Yoox Gerard Blouse
Beck Wide Leg Trousers
Duco Sunglasses
Blevet Sunglasses
Biba Leopard Print Handbag
Women’s Party Animal Zebra Belt
Magnificent Pointed Court Heels
Zebra belt
Yoox Gerard Blouse
Beck Wide Leg Trousers

Design is Everything

Here’s where I sourced what I’m wearing.  And below you’ll find a selection of similar items you can buy now. Text in intalics below shows the brand, and bold indicates where I bought the items.  Sometimes the same if I bought the item new, sometimes not.

 

  • New Look Rust Leopard Jacquard Satin Shirt £5
  • Vintage rust trouser Mare & Foal Sanctuary charity shop £1
  • Coast belt old £15
  • Vintage handbag from Heart of Kent Hospice £3
  • Topshop snake print stilettos from eBay £4
  • Powder sunglasses £30
Boden Rosemoor Paperbag Trousers
RI Studio Rust Velvet Tape Tracksuit Bottoms
Pretty Little Thing Rust Oversized Satin Shirt
Reiss Sabri Shirt
Magnificent Pointed Court Heels
Boden Rosemoor Paperbag Trousers
RI Studio Rust Velvet Tape Tracksuit Bottoms
Pretty Little Thing Rust Oversized Satin Shirt
Reiss Sabri Shirt
Magnificent Pointed Court Heels
Boden Rosemoor Paperbag Trousers
RI Studio Rust Velvet Tape Tracksuit Bottoms
Pretty Little Thing Rust Oversized Satin Shirt
Reiss Sabri Shirt
Magnificent Pointed Court Heels

 

Wide Leg Trousers Shopping Inspiration
Exeter Wide Leg Culottes
Topshop Button Detail Bonded Cropped Trousers
La Redoute Wide Leg Ankle Grazer Trousers
Topshop Kick Flare Trousers
Next Black Wide Leg Trousers
Boden Exeter
Jigsaw Hoxton Wide Leg Jeans
Reiss Carey Trousers
Boden Marlin Wide Leg Trousers
JOA Rust Pants