Fashion Pants

"Fashion Advice on Buying & Wearing Womens Pants"


Plaid cropped pants from Gap
Courtesy of Gap

Fashion pants - whether it be a pair of sophisticated dress pants or casual cargo pants - are a great way to add variety to your style. Compared to denim jeans, they give a chic & classy feel to your outfit.


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On this page you'll find shopping tips on selecting the best pair of pants that look good on your body shape and legs as well as styling tricks on how to wear pants.

Get fashion advice & tips on:

So let's make your shopping easier by starting out with the must-knows of womens pants:

What Pants to Invest In?

A cost-effective and workable closet requires versatile and timeless pants styles that cover your major daily activities all year around. Examples are a pair of dress pants in basic colors such as black, brown and white/cream, with minimal details.

How to Build a Solid Pants Closet

So if you want to get the most out of your money, pants in neutrals are the way to go. Neutrals include black, browns, whites, dark blue and even dark olive green. These won't draw too much attention and go great with other colors.

Also make sure to secure these colors in pants styles that cover your basic and major activities such as leisure weekends and office.

The closet pants essentials are:

Wardrobe pants essentials
  • Dress pants in a light and dark neutral. Great for the office as well as polishing your look
  • Cargo pants for active, casual days
  • One pair of beige (or black if you want) chino pants
  • Tailored shorts in a light and dark neutral for a chic & well-polished summer outfits. For Fall pair the dark shorts with tights.

This list is a minimum. If most of your daily activities require sophisticated clothing expand your pants closet with various styles in all of your best neutrals.
    fashion tip Tip: If your schedule is mostly spent at the office or you just love wearing pants, secure 2-3 of each type to ward off laundry days.



Have Your Body Measurements Ready

Cream womens dress pants
Courtesy of New York & Co
Fit is one of the crucial factors to looking fab in pants or any clothing for that matter. Too-big or tight pants can make or break your outfit. You either end up looking tacky or stumpy.

If you want to look chic, then a snug fit is what you should aim for. Well, an exception is if you're out on a camping trip or relaxing at home.

The perfect fit gives a professional impression and not least, flatters your body figure!

The only way to find the perfect pants with a flattering fit is to take your leg measurements and selecting the right fashion pants that complement your body shape (more in details further down this page). Do not miss this step!

Use the numbers to find the right size. Many pants today vary in size although they hold the same sizing tag. So don't count on the size tag as you may be smaller or bigger in another fashion brand's book :-)


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The Best Styles for Your Body Shape

Many women have already made up their mind when it comes to different types of fashion pants. "Skinny pants will make a curvy woman look fat", "Skinny pants will only look good on slim women" "Wide leg jeans are old-fashioned".

I've seen curvy women á la Beyoncé who manages to look stunning in skinny leg jeans as well as fashionable celebs who wear wide leg pants gracefully. They all looked fabulous because they carry the pants with confidence and they know how to wear them with style!

Example of how all kinds of fashion pants work. Beyonce wearing skinny pants, Kate Moss weraing wide leg jeans
Beyoncé wearing her fabulous grey skinny pants.
Kate Moss wearing black flare leg pants stylishly.
Image credit: WENN

You Can Wear Any Pants Style

What many women don't understand is that anyone can wear all types of pants but they have to style them differently to make it work for them.

Basically, I'm talking about putting together an outfit with a pair of pants that balances out your body figure.

Here is an example from the jeans-section:

Cream womens dress pants

Normally, a Pear woman would wear bootcut to conceal her curves. However, she can wear skinny pants as long as they're simple and solid colored along with adding a top that visually adds fullness on top. A pair of high heels will also help balance out the curves she gets from wearing leg-fitted pants.

It's about creating an outfit of silhouette that complements the shape, proportions and scale of your body! This is based on the "Enhance & Minimize"-trick which is explained in further details in my article on Body Proportions.

A curvy woman can wear a pair of skinny pants as long as she balances out her shape by adding more weight on top. In this way her hips and thighs will be less obvious.

On the other hand, a woman with a prominent upper body will have to add a pair of eye-catching shoes to draw attention away from this prominent part of her body figure.

For more tricks on how to make any pants style work for you, check out my outfit examples in the womens jeans advice-section.



Your Horizontal Body Shape

Now let's take a closer look at your body shape and what fashion pants styles complement it:

Hourglass

Your focus is to flatter your curvy hips.

Your best pants styles are:
    Best pants for Hourglass body shape
    Courtesy of IsabellaOliver
  • Wide and flare leg. If you're Petite, stick to the slimmest wide/flare cut you can find
  • Bootcut. Slim bootcut if your petite, thin-boned or would like to show off your curves a bit without looking stumpy
  • Straight and skinny leg pants if you're comfortable with your curves

Your choice of pants is entirely based on your personal preferences - on if you want to accentuate your curves or not. I personally like showing off mine but I downplay them down on professional settings.

Learn more on how to dress your Hourglass body shape




Pear

Your goal is to balance out your hips, thighs and legs.

Your best pants styles are:
    Best pants for Pear body shape
    Courtesy of TopShop
  • Flare and wide leg. If you're Petite, opt for the slimmest wide/flare leg cut you can find
  • Bootcut work wonders on de-emphasizing your heavy bottom
  • Straight, if you're comfortable in your curves but don't want to go all out with skinny pants
  • Minimal to no intricate details that cause the eye to look at your hips
  • Vertical details such as darts

Any pants style that flares outwards at the hem - this helps draw attention away from your hips.

Learn more on how to dress your Pear body shape




Inverted Triangle

Focus on pants that add volume to your hips and draw less attention to shoulders.

Your best pants feature:
    Best pants for Hourglass body shape
    Courtesy of TopShop
  • Outwards flare from your lower hips or thighs
  • Details that add volume. Eg. pleats, pockets and zippers

Tapered and skinny pants make you look toppled. However you can adjust it a bit with detailed shoes or skinnys with details on the sides such as pockets.

Learn more on how to dress your Inverted Triangle body shape




Apple

Your goal is to slim fill out your hips and legs a bit more to help draw attention away from your midsection.

Your best pants are:
    Best pants for Apple body shape
    Courtesy of Peacocks.co.uk
  • Bootcut - it works wonders on balancing out all body shapes. If you're petite, opt for a slim boot cut with details around the hips or thighs. Or add heels
  • Flare and wide leg help balance out a heavy chest and midriff. If you're Petite select a slimmer wide leg style.
  • Styles with details around the hips and thighs, such as pockets and visible stitches
  • Normal to high rise with a flat front

Learn more on how to dress your Apple body shape




Rectangle

Your focus is to create curves from waist down. This means you can wear most pants and jeans styles - lucky you!

Your best pants feature:
    Best pants for Rectangle body shape
    Courtesy of Welikefashion.com
  • A skinny or tapered leg - it helps create hips
  • Various details such as pockets, visible stitches and zippers, distressed texture

You might want to avoid straight leg or wide leg jeans that don't taper at your thighs - they emphasize your straight waist. Fashion pants that are tight at the hip and tapers along your thighs and legs create curves.

Learn more on how to dress your Rectangle body shape


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Womens Fashion Pants Terminology

Low-rise, normal-rise, capri, straight leg, wide leg... Are you wondering what all of these words really mean?

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The list of jeans terminology makes it easier for you to buy the right style for your body figure. It's about womens jeans but most of it can be referred to pants as well.

Other terms that you might have stumbled upon when shopping for fashion pants:



Womens cargo pants
Courtesy of Current Elliott

Cargo Pants

Womens cargo pants are casual pants with large pockets on the side at mid-thigh.

They create volume on the thighs, depending on the size and details of the pockets.

Great for casual outings - but can also be paired with dressy blouse to create a casual-sporty-chic look.






Womens khaki pants
Courtesy of Levi's/My Theresa

Khaki

A yellowish brown cotton twill fabric, or any pants made of that fabric (also called chinos).

Khaki pants look very chic with a blouse or shirt. I like wearing mine with a silk dress shirt.






Womens drawstring pants
Courtesy of Net-a-Porter

Drawstring

A string set in the hem that closes the opening when pulled tight at one or both ends.

In casual pants, drawstrings can be found in waistbands or leg openings, such as on cargo pants.

Best worn for lounging or active occasions, but you can find some styles that work with heels and a nice top.






Womens black walk shorts
Courtesy of Rittenhouse.com.au

Walk Shorts

They end up between just above the knee or down to the widest part of your calves, and a great alternative if you don't want to show off too much of your legs.

This shorts length is ageless and always appropriate, and looks more polished than short shorts.






Womens clamdigger pants
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Clamdiggers

Clamdiggers are a type of walk shorts but they end right below the knees.

Calf-length pants with a slight baggy cut, giving a casual feel. A very common style in jeans.

'Clamdigger' and 'capri' are often used interchangeably.







Womens capri cropped pants
Courtesy of NY&Co

Capri

Capri pants are cropped below the calf and above the ankle, and are very tricky for many women to pull off because they tend to visually chop off your height.

You need long and lean legs for this look - or at least add a decent heel height of about 2 inches. The hem cut should also be tapered or straight.

Flared capris are 'no-no's. I don't know why fashion manufacturers even make them!







Womens dress pants
Courtesy of TheOutnet

Dress Pants

These are worn for formal to semi-formal occasions (especially office), often made of wool or polyester.

Dress pants have a tailored, clean cut along with straight lines. They're snug around the hips, often with darts (simple tuck or gather at the upper thighs).

Slacks are a type of dress pants but less formal (no front pleat, cuffs, etc.) such as a pair of chinos.





Womens bermuda shorts
Courtesy of TheOutnet

Bermuda Shorts

They end just above the knee and are also known as "dress shorts" and "city shorts". That's because of their tailored cut, straight lines and clean hem, giving a polished look.

They're appropriate for semi-casual occasions. Great for beating the heat in the summer.






Womens culotte pants shorts
Courtesy of House of Fraser

Culottes

Culottes have a full and flowing legs that resemble a skirt. A modest type of shorts.

They're usually at full or calf-length, but they're also being made shorter today.






Womens harem pants
Courtesy of Armani Exchange

Harem

Also known as "parachute pants", harem pants are long and baggy, tapered at the ankle, with side flaps on the hip that button at the waistline.




Womens gaucho pants shorts
Courtesy of Old Navy

Gauchos

They're similar to culottes, but gaucho pants are more tailored and usually flare out at the calf.



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Time to Shop for the Latest Womens Fashion Pants

Now that you've gone through my fashion tips and shopping advice on pants, it's time to shop!

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Related Content:

How to Buy and Wear Dress Shirts How to look chic in a dress shirt How to Buy and Wear Fashion tops How to Buy and Wear Fashion Skirts
How to select the best skirt styles for your personal style and body figure How to select the best jewelry styles for your personal style Guide to Womens Jeans How to Buy and Wear Fashion Belts



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