Subliminal Style
Effortless. Authentic. Professional.

Catching Rae

Parsing Trends: Sweeping Slacks

Elizabeth and James, Alice + Olivia, Nili Lotan, Jonathan Simkhai

Elizabeth and James, Alice + Olivia, Nili Lotan, Jonathan Simkhai

This week, we're taking our first looks at Fall trends and, today, we've got another pant silhouette available to relieve your skinny-jean fatigue: long, sweeping, wide-leg slacks!

This look is great for gals with a tall frame, defined waist, and/or ability to rock a nice high heel.


Wide legs evolved from Asian styles, which made their way to the West in the 1920s. The look started out as a "sleep pajama" and "beach pajama" look worn by starlets, but it gradually became mainstream warm-weather travel wear in the 1930s. Around WWII in the 1940s, working women wore less dramatic wide-legs made of sturdier fabrics and, by the 1950s, the look "tapered" out of style (pun intended!).

However, in the 1960s, some women did choose palazzo styles as evening wear to thwart certain restaurant dress codes forbidding women in pants. The drama and carefree attitude of the wide-leg came back into heavier rotation in the 1970s with the onset of a more bohemian culture.



These sweeping slacks are thus associated with:

  • The exotic/avant garde
  • Hollywood glamour
  • Vacation & leisure
  • Abundance (and sometimes excess)
  • Evening wear
  • Working women

How to Wear Them

The modern look shows a slim waist flowing into an eased seat and gradually widening leg that flows at least to the floor, if not beyond. Look for softer fabrics with nice drape and movement when you walk. Anything from silk to wool to denim to sequins is fair game!

The tall gals out there will be able to wear this look with flats as shown in some of the runway shows, but average-heighters may find so much volume overwhelming. To avoid feeling short and squat in this look, pair your wide-legs with a fitted top, high waist (either the waistband of the pants themselves or another detail such as a belt over your jacket), and some sturdy heels that won't get snagged in your pant hems - the wider your pants, the taller your heels.

I don't wear wide leg pants often, but I'm excited to wear them occasionally this Fall/Winter - since they are loose, they will provide some nice airflow during our hot Indian Summer season, when I'm excited about new styles yet still sweltering. :)