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6 Different Types of Wide Leg Pants

Lower legs walking in wide leg pants on white background

Wide leg pants are comfortable to wear and they’re very much in style right now. The wide leg look has been setting the fashion world on fire, possibly because there are a lot of different looks to explore. There are many types of wide leg pants that will look amazing when you style them well.

Experiment with the trend and have fun with comfortable, trendy wide leg pants.

What Are Wide Leg Pants?

Wide leg pants are one of those things that feel kind of hard to define. It’s like, you know them when you see them. But in the world of fashion, wide leg pants do have a strict definition.

In order to fit into the category of being a wide leg pant, the hem circumference of the pants must be bigger than 20 inches. That’s a little over a foot and a half.

Even if the pants are very fitted everywhere else, they are considered to be wide leg pants as long as the hem fits this measurement. This is how wide leg styles are defined by fashion and this means there are lots of looks you can play with.

Types of Wide Leg Pants

Silhouette of person wearing wide leg pants

Pants were actually one of the first items of clothing that humans ever made. After all, you definitely needed to keep your body covered and stay warm during the Ice Age. It’s not easy to hunt a mammoth without some sturdy clothing, right?

They never left mankind’s closet, ever since those earliest days. Pants became popular with early horse riders during the Iron Age of the early centuries B.C.E. and in medieval Europe, they were paired with long tunics and tall boots.

Through the centuries, pants have evolved and lots of different styles have been created. Pants are still being reinvented all the time as different looks come and go. Try reinventing your look with wide leg pants styles that are comfortable, easy to wear and fashionable. There are many ways to have fun with wide leg pants silhouettes.


MBJ WB876 Womens Knit Culottes Pants XXXL Black

Culottes are so wide, they look like a skirt. These pants fall anywhere from knee-length to about mid-calf. They fit very wide from the waist, flaring out quite a bit in a full, voluminous style. Culottes may also be called skorts.

Culottes are a popular women’s style today but actually, they began as a hated piece of fashion. They were worn as a strong and quite literal fashion statement in the 1700s, during the days of the French Revolution. They were seen as a symbol of the upper class, which ultimately was rebelled against when the French royals and nobility were taken prisoner by angry regular people.

Culottes appeared about 100 years later again, this time in women’s fashion. And in those early days, they were rather scandalous. Women began wearing them for practical reasons. It was easier to ride a horse and ride a bike while wearing culottes, which were called “divided skirts” for obvious reasons.

But it was Elsa Schiaparelli who caused the scandal. The year was 1931 and she was a designer. Her culottes were worn by professional tennis player, Lili de Alvarez, at Wimbledon. They cause quite a stir. In fact, the Daily Mail said de Alvarez should be “soundly beaten.” Women were even arrested in Paris for wearing them as public opinion turned against culottes.

Women didn’t care, however, and continued wearing the style, which remains popular in female fashion to this very day.


WSPLYSPJY Women's Print Stretch Bell Bottom Flare Palazzo Pants Trousers

Perhaps best known as bell bottoms, flare pants have wide legs that flare out from the knee to create wide hems.

Bell bottoms didn’t actually begin with the youth culture of the 1960s, though they certainly made this style of pants famous as pop fashion. Flared pants were actually created by sailors, who found that the flared design kept them dryer while they were on the decks of ships. The U.S. Navy wore flared pants as part of their standard issue attire.

Teenagers of the 1960s first discovered the flared pants at Army surplus stores. Wearing military fashion became a big part of culture at that time. It was meant to be an ironic statement.

They were protesting the Vietnam War by wearing military fashion. The sailor pants with the flared “bell” shape at the bottom quickly caught on and truly became the trendy silhouette of the decade.


SHINFY Plus Size Wide Leg Pleated Palazzo Pants for Women - Loose Belted High Waist


Gaucho pants are Capri-length, meaning they end somewhere along the lower leg. These pants have a loose fit along the thighs and widen out to roomy hem at the bottom.

Gaucho pants appeared in fashion in the late 1960s. They were introduced into high fashion and they were based on the costumes worn by cowboys in South America, also known as gauchos. They were famous figures in the 1700s and 1800s and continue to be a part of South American culture and lore. Global fashion was trendy in the 1960s and 1970s and many looks were taken from designs around the world.

Anne Klein’s 1970 gaucho pants became a hit when they first hit the fashion world and gaucho pants are for ever a part of style history as a result.


Lafural Women Summer High Waisted Cotton Linen Flare Palazzo Pants Long Beach Pant Lounge Trousers Blue L

Palazzo pants flare out very wide from the hips. They have a classic A-line, getting slightly wider all the way down to the hem.

Palazzo pants were popularized in female fashion by none other than Coco Chanel. Daring women of the 1930s, such as Katharine Hepburn, wore palazzo pants. However, the look didn’t really catch on until the 1960s. The wide legs of the pants fit in well with popular fashions of the day and women quickly embraced the look. Palazzo pants have been a regular part of female fashion ever since.


J. LOVNY Womens Sailor Bell Bottom High Waist Long Pants Made in USA S-3XL Ivory

Sailor pants are traditionally made with canvas, a tough cotton material that is water-resistant and highly durable. Canvas is used to make sails for ships and it’s also used for paintings. All the great masters of art painted their works on canvas. So clearly, sailor pants are a perfect canvas for fashion.

Sailor pants are made in a very wide-leg style that comes out from the hips in a wide, straight design.


Qiaomai Womens Casual Baggy Tulip Hem Elastic Waist Harem Pants Ankle Trousers (Black-Large)

Tulip pants have a very distinct shape that gives them their name. These are wide leg pants with a loose, blousy fit that ends slightly above the ankle. What makes these pants unique is the hems, which end in a V shape that resembles the petals of a tulip.

Made with airy fabric in very lightweight designs, tulip pants are a version of harem pants. These pants are based on the wide leg pants that were historically worn in the Middle East. The lightweight harem pants were perfect for the warm climate of the region. Tulip pants are a Western version of this centuries-old style.

Wearing Different Types of Wide Leg Pants

Wearing wide leg pants next to a truck

Try wearing the different styles of wide leg pants and play around with all kinds of looks. Wide leg pants are comfortable and easy to wear. Because if you can be trendy and feel good at the same time, why wouldn’t you? Wear all the different types of wide leg pants and keep them in your wardrobe so you have lots of different looks you can create to ook trendy and fashionable whenever you want.


Knowing the types of wide leg pants is a good start but there’s a lot to learn about wearing and styling these types of pants. Get all the answers to the most frequently asked questions about wide leg pants and get to know how to wear these pants just like a stylish celebrity.

Are wide leg pants flattering? Do they make you look heavy?

What about flattering your own shape, though? Don’t wide leg pants just make your legs and body look bigger? Are wide leg pants even flattering on all body types, or are they just for the tall, thin people?

Many people are afraid to wear wide leg pants because they think they’ll look too big in them. Actually, they are more likely to make you look slimmer than you are when you make good fashion choices.

Wide leg pants are actually very flattering pants and they don’t make you look heavy or fat. Style them well and wide leg pants do a good job of showing off your shape and helping you create the silhouette you want. Wide leg pants are great for making your legs look longer or shorter, depending on the look you want. They can be used to emphasize your waist and they look great for casual, semi-formal or even formal wear.

In other words, they work well for all dress codes and all body types. Wide leg pants are one of the most flattering fashion choices you can make.

Can wide leg pants be professional wear?

Wide leg pants are made in a huge variety of materials and looks, in addition to the various styles available. Some are made to be more casual but wide leg pants can be formal wear, too. Many types of wide leg pants are suitable as business wear, as long as you choose a pair that’s well made with good fabric. More muted colors and solid designs are better for professional wear, so leave the bright neon pants in the closet for your off hours.

How should wide leg pants fit?

Wide leg pants are often made to be loose or even somewhat baggy in design, which makes it difficult to know if you’re getting the right fit. Are they too wide, made? How should they feel? If you’re wondering how wide leg pants should fit, no problem. There are certain things to look out for that will tell you if you’ve got the right fit or not.

The waist is the first thing you should check when you’re testing the fit of your pants. Whether you’re wearing hip huggers or high rise pants or anything in-between, the waistline of the pants should fit well around your body. The fit should be close but not snug and not loose. You don’t want any gapping or bunching, just a smooth, uniform fit.

The way the pants fit through the hips and seat also matters. On some styles of wide leg pants, the hips are meant to fit close to your body but in other styles, the fabric flares out away from the hips.

So how do you know you have a good fit? Sit down in your pants. You should be able to do it comfortably, without feeling any tightness through the hips and seat of your pants. You should also not see fabric pooling out on either side of your body. If you can see excess fabric on either side of you in the hip area when you sit down, your pants are probably too big.

No matter what fashion choices you make, always wear clothing that fits well. Only clothing that fits the right way will truly flatter your body. This will also make you feel more confident and more comfortable, which really does have an effect on people.

You will seem to be more attractive and more charismatic when you feel good. Give it a try with wide leg pants that fit great and see how it feels when you know you look great.

How do you style wide leg pants?

Outfit with wide leg pants laying out

Wide leg pants feel comfortable and they’re fashionable but they aren’t always easy to style. Follow some basic style rules and make your wide leg pants look great.

If you have shorter legs, choose high-waist pants. This will visually lengthen the leg line. You can also use high heels to visually make your legs look longer.

Stick to fitted tops, crop tops and tops that are tucked in. You still want to show your waistline and emphasize your curves. Wear a long or bay shirt and you’ll look like you’re just wearing clothes that are too big for you.

You have a shape. If you don’t wear clothing that flatters it, you’re not going to look fashionable. A button-up top tied up around the midsection creates a very sexy look with wide leg pants.


Bustle – The Complete History Of The Culotte

CJ and Lauren – Beyond Palazzos: 6 Different Styles of Wide-Leg Pants

Encyclopedia – Gaucho Pants

The Fashion Plate Magazine – Fashion History: The Palazzo Pant

Glam – 15 Tips For Styling Wide-Leg Pants

MasterClass – How to Style Wide-Leg Pants: 4 Types of Wide-Leg Pants

Startup Fashion – Fashion Archives: A Look at the History of Culottes

Startup Fashion – Fashion Archives: A Look at the History of Flared Jeans