A comprehensive guide to pants and how to pair them
When the Persians came up with ‘the pants’ many years ago, no one would have imagined that all the people in the world would one day be wearing this in one form or the other. Now, not one wardrobe is complete without a wonderful selection of pants.
Given the incredible amount of options available out there, this guide aims to give you a bit of orientation around the different pants styles and how to include them in your next outfit.
The origin of the name
The word originated from Pantalone, the name of a character in the “commedia dell’arte”, an Italian theatre in vogue in Europe between the 16th to the 18th century. Pantalone was a greedy and vicious old man who always ended up on the losing side of the play. His costume included long trousers.
When similar trousers became popular during the Restoration period in England (1660 - 1689), they gave them the name pantaloons, the anglicization of Pantalone. Americans shorten the name to pants in the early 19th century.
This pant style has a slight flare to its legs starting from mid-calf, which makes its leg opening slightly wider than the straight-leg pants.
If you have a wider upper body (aka apple body shape or inverted triangle body shape) this style balances your look and makes you look better proportioned.
It goes very well with short sleeve tops with a round or V-neck in materials silk, cotton, or linen. Cropped jackets are good with this style of pants, as they fall just at the top of the waistline, making your torso look longer.
Also known as combat pants. They are loose-fitting casual pants with large pockets on the sides. Originally designed for military use, the most common colours are green, brown, khaki and other neutral colours.
They go very well with crop tops, regardless of whether they are loose or tight shirts. They balance out the oversize look from the pants and bring definition to the waist. Sunglasses are a great way to finish the outfit.
Photo by Wan Mohammad Aliff
These pants have high waists with wide waistbands and flat fronts and are slim fitting through the legs. They have stood the test of time because they flatter many body shapes.
Pair these pants with a crisp white shirt, a strand of pearls and a chic updo. For a night out, pair with a cropped top, and a sleek clutch and don’t forget accessories.
Photo by Marko Milivojevic on Pixnio
Derived from the French word “culot”, meaning panties. It’s a style of pants that, because of the voluminous legs, almost resembles a skirt. The hemline can end from below the knee to above the ankle.
Culottes are very flattering for curves as they don’t constrict and they lay over your natural curves and flow from there.
Suitable for any type of occasion, you can easily transform your look simply by switching out your top from a cropped, off-shoulder top for Sunday brunch to a sleeveless, button-down for the workweek.
Photo by Gaurav Ranjitkar
This style has a wide leg opening, with the flare starting just below the knee. The hem circumference can exceed 50 centimetres.
You can balance your overall silhouette with a sleeveless rough top or with a simple fitted t-shirt. Maybe even a blouse. Flare pants are available in many materials, with the most common being denim.
Photo by RODNAE Productions
Also known as harem trousers. They are baggy, long pants caught in at the ankle. Originally, this style of pants was going by the name of the harem skirt.
With some exceptions, harem pants are usually casual and have a sort of bohemian vibe about them. They are ideal for casual weekends, beach vacations or parties. With all that volume, ensure that your tops don’t fall below the waist of the pant, and should be more fitted to balance out your silhouette.
Photo by Alpha on Flickr
Born as a variation of sweatpants, joggers are a casual style of pants originally made for athletes. With the rise of athleisure, designers have reintroduced the pants in many fabrics, from denim to satin. They typically have a tapered cut and elasticised cuffs at the ankles.
You can dress up your joggers by adding a button-up shirt, but do not push it. A short sleeve button-up shirt is an excellent way to get the neat look of a collared shirt while staying dressed down. Casual occasions will allow you to pair them with a nice but simple t-shirt for an off-duty look.
Photo by Li Sun
Sometimes also called carpenter pants, this style of pants is trousers that have a bib attached to the front and attach at the back with 2 adjustable straps. Born as blue-collar’s work attire, the original material was thick and resistant. Nowadays, overalls’ material can be anything from cotton to denim today.
For our warmer climate, we recommend wearing overalls with a sleeveless top under, or a cropped t-shirt with a neckline that rises above the top of the bib. For colder temperatures, pair them with knit sweaters and turtlenecks.
Photo by form PxHere
A style of extremely wide-legged pants that is the complete opposite of leggings or skinny jeans. They come in many fabrics and prints. Their incredible cuts give your look a natural feeling.
Given their width, not all tops are suitable for these pants. You’ll want to keep your tops close fitted, and if the occasional allows, show some skin with camisoles or cropped tops, just to balance out all that material.
Photo by Néo Rioux
One of the latest styles to emerge in the last few years, they are exactly as their name suggests: a pair of pants that have ruffles at the hemline instead of the traditional straight cut.
Fun and fresh, treat hemmed pants as you would for normal pants; just remember the frills will add a feminine touch to your outfit. We like them with a plain, soft t-shirt for that relaxed look for weekends, and a smart blouse or blazer for the office.
As the name implies, straight-leg pants have a silhouette running straight down to the bottom. They have a consistent leg width and feel somewhat comfortable in the thigh. While occasionally confused with skinny pants, the straight-leg ones differ in that they do not taper towards the bottom but have an even leg width throughout. Straight-leg offers a comfortable, classic fit and is a popular cut, especially for jeans. The leg openings allow fitting over boots.
Straight-leg jeans go with many tops, including T-shirts, turtlenecks, or button-down blouses. Always choose a top that stresses your waist when styling straight-leg jeans. Tucking your shirt at the waist will help achieve this.
Photo by Rulo Davila
These are pants that are cut so that they are increasingly narrow from hip to ankle. Cigarette pants are a good example. It can make your legs look longer and consequently make you look taller. This is a good style for the petite build.
Opt for a pair in satin to make you look chic, and a pair with a close-fitting top that does not go past the waistline. For formal work settings, look for a stiffer pair with pleated detailing down the front.