How To Wear Wide-Leg Pants: 20 Outfits That Won’t Make You Look Like A Clown
Once just a trend, wide-leg trousers are here to stay, bringing a voluminous silhouette to a modern wardrobe. Here are the keys to styling them perfectly.
Wide-leg pants aren’t exactly new. In fact, some of the early styles date back to the 1920s when Oxford University students began to wear extremely wide-leg styles in rebellious opposition to the slim tapered cuts of the time.
They were typically worn with a high waist, cut from wool, tweed or flannel, and pleated in order to fit at the waist. Ever since then, the straight-leg trouser has dominated menswear, until now.
Wide-leg, baggy pants are back, and have been for a good number of seasons now, implying that they’re here to stay. Which is good news for all of us, since they bring a fluid silhouette to our collective wardrobes and a modern aesthetic that when styled correctly can turn heads for all the right reasons.
From cotton chinos to jeans and tailored trousers, the wide-leg trouser’s appeal has gone mainstream, and not just with streetwear types. Discover how this versatile pant can play a key part in your wardrobe this season and beyond.
How to wear wide-leg pants
Balance the proportions
Wide-leg pants make a bold statement, so it’s important to balance the proportions of your outfit. Since the trousers are roomy, opt for a more fitted or tailored top half. A slim-fitting shirt or T-shirt, or a tucked-in sweater will help create a harmonious look.
Longer coats and outerwear don’t work so well as they create a sense of drowning in fabric, so stick to cropped blousons and jackets to ensure your waistline is outlined.
Choose the right footwear
Your choice of footwear can greatly influence the overall appearance when wearing wide-leg pants. Sneakers are the go-to, since they complement the contemporary nature of the silhouette well. Clean, minimalist kicks can create a modern and casual look. High-tops or pumps – both work just as well.
In the summer months, sandals and slides are an excellent option too, while in colder weather, wide-leg trousers can be worn with boots – whether military, hiker or worker – for a rugged look.
Avoid anything with an overly tapered toe as this will be accentuated by the broad dimensions of the trouser. Instead, opt for shoes with round toe shapes.
Experiment with length and fit
The length and fit of wide-leg pants can vary wildly, so experiment to find the style that suits you best. Wide-leg doesn’t have to mean parachute pants. While wide-leg trousers are meant to have a relaxed fit, they shouldn’t be overly baggy.
Pay attention to the fit around the waist and hips to ensure they don’t look too loose or ill-fitting. Tailoring may be necessary to achieve the perfect fit. Pleated styles are good because the pleats gather up the excess fabric at the waist, ensuring the trousers drape well.
Length is another variable: some wide-leg pants are cropped, ending above the ankle. Others are full-length and may even touch the floor. Choose the length that best complements your body type and the overall look you’re aiming for. Whatever you do, ensure the cut feels purposeful, rather than it looking like you borrowed your older brother’s clothes.
20 Cool wide-leg pants outfits for men
Beige wide-leg chinos with a navy wool blouson jacket, simple white T-shirt and tonal high-tops – can it get any easier or more effective?
The pants have single pleats to ensure a nice drape in the cotton fabric, while the fleece top balances out the proportions nicely.
Wide-leg pants lend themselves perfectly to streetwear looks, especially when combined with baggy jumpers and sweaters.
This look has been styled out with contemporary sneakers, while the colours have been used to create contrast and separation between legs and torso.
The slouchy bag is a nice complementary touch.
There’s a lot to love in this fit: the preppy sweater over shirt combo; the khaki wide-leg pants perfectly counterbalanced with the boxy boucle jacket, which itself brings a tonne of textural interest to the look.
Full marks on colour usage as well. It goes to show you don’t need bright tones and patterns to make a bang. Shape and contrast will do all the work for you.
Easy does it
How to look modern, relevant and whip smart without barely using a brain cell – gentleman, this combination of an off-white tee and beige wide-leg trousers, bookended with a pair of lo-fi sneakers, is your off-duty uniform day-in, day-out.
Mix it up with zip-through tops, blazers, blousons, you name it – but the rudimentary elements should be your go-to.
With a pair of black or dark tone wide-leg pants, you can simply rotate through any number of brightly coloured tees or jersey to create a bold contrast look.
The addition of the Vans gives the outfit some skater vibes, but you could just as easily make this smarter with a pair of minimalist sneakers and an unstructured chore jacket over the top.
Black wide-leg pants are the magic
If you’ve never worn wide-leg pants before, opt for black for your first pair. They are supremely versatile and you’ll get so much out of them.
This outfit is the very definition of casual streetwear thanks to the slouchy hoodie. You could layer over a smart textured wool coat to elevate the look, and switch out the sneakers for boots or chunky black Derbies.
The complementary crew neck
Crew neck sweaters are a great foil for wide-leg trousers since most come with an elasticated hem which creates a degree of separation at the waist.
The fact that this look uses colour contrast to accentuate the separation is really smart. Go for a sweater with something textural going on if you’re going to opt for light tone trousers, too.
Tonal looks are always a great idea since they don’t require any degree of complication, but they can also look flat if you don’t mix up the shapes.
Wide-leg trousers are perfect for this because they introduce a different silhouette, especially if they’re cropped like these are.
The white and off-white tones here make for a really sophisticated and current aesthetic.
Go wide, go beige
Strong looks don’t require strong colours. In fact, just choosing two or three contrasting tones and being clever with the shapes is all you need for an outstanding ensemble.
Khaki pants are the cornerstone of so many good looks, so invest in a few wide-leg pairs. Then just use simple layering techniques to create contrast in tone and texture.
An excellent direction for a simple off-duty look, these dark green pants do all the leg work, so to speak, while the addition of the blue crew neck is a simple yet effective foil.
A good, no-thrills option for dressing down.
Two-tone simplicity redux
As above, only this time, the look is brightened up with a pair of white wide-leg pants and a baby blue crew-neck sweater.
If you wanted to smarten it up a touch, you could slip a white OCBD under the sweater.
The hint of tan woven belt shows real attention to detail, too.
Chocolate brown versatility
Black is a versatile option for wide-leg pants but if you can find a chocolate brown pair then snap them up. Rare to see but easy to style, they work really well in tonal looks with tans, beige, light browns, and creams, as perfectly evidenced here.
Wearing the shirt unbuttoned also creates more balance with the volume of the trousers.
Elegant wide-leg tailoring
WIth an abundance of relaxed tailoring on runways in recent seasons, the wide-leg trouser has risen to prominence as a separate too.
Cut in beautiful luxury fabrics to tailored specifications, it makes for a really chic and contemporary alternative to tapered flat-front pants.
Opt for linen in the summer and fine wool in the winter months.
Loose in Linen
Speaking of linen, the lightweight fabric derived from the flax plant is the perfect canvas for wide-leg pants since it is fluid, dynamic and drapes beautifully.
The tucked effect
As we mentioned before, you need to create some degree of waistline, however small, to get the best out of wide-leg pants and not appear to be drowning in your clothes.
One simple but very effective way to do this is by tucking in your top – whether it’s a tee, polo shirt or, in this case, a turtleneck sweater.
The addition of a belt will also help to separate your top and bottom half.
The carrot pant
One slight deviation from most of the wide-leg trousers you see on this page is the carrot pant. Parisian brand AMI has made the carrot pant an intrinsic part of its DNA.
It’s a unique shape – wide at the top, almost always pleated, tapering down to a cropped finish – hence the name ‘carrot pants’.
They are a great way to mix up your silhouette and work really well with boots and chunky Derbies.
Wide-leg cargo pants
If you’re of the utilitarian persuasion when it comes to menswear, then a great addition to your wardrobe is the wide-leg cargo pant.
The simple inclusion of a thigh pocket instant gives the trousers some workwear appeal, which you can complement with plaid overshirts and other icons of Americana.
Cream of the cropped
Riffing on the skater aesthetic, these cropped wide-leg trousers are perfect for those who prefer their streetwear slightly alternative.
The addition of the hip chain offers some authenticity to the look, while the dark balance keeps the aesthetic nice and edgy.
Tailored chinos are a smart move
Just because they’re baggy, doesn’t mean that wide-leg trousers are innately casual or edgy. Adding some extra width to a pair of tailored cotton chinos can make a smart-casual look that much more modern, as evidenced here.
The use of the cropped denim jacket works really well while the slightly cropped pants offer a more contemporary aesthetic.
There’s so much to love in this outfit. First of all, the linen wide-leg trousers are just the perfect dimension and tone, and are expertly complemented by the white shirt and black sandals.
On their own it’s a killer summer look, but the addition of the bomber jacket helps to cinch the waistline and introduces a tonne of pattern and tonal texture. Top marks.