Cropped wide pants, or narrow culottes, have slowly been gaining momentum for five seasons. One of the most popular silhouettes on the catwalks at fashion week, yet not a trend that has gone mainstream at retail. They are a fringe trend at best, and judging by the way my clients feel, for good reason.
Here are examples of cropped wide trousers and jeans for visual reference. They’re wide from the hips down, instead of being fitted on the leg with straight or flared hems.
There’s definitely an aversion to the cropped wide pant silhouette in denim or other fabrics. From my experience dressing clients, they are off-putting for six reasons:
- The silhouette makes the bottom half look wider than it really is.
- The waistband detailing accentuates the midsection, which might be an area of the body that you prefer to conceal.
- The style can look best with heels to prevent the “dumpy” and “short-legged” feeling, especially when you’re petite.
- It’s a harder silhouette to pair with untucked tops when you’re opposed to the full or semi-tucked effect that’s a slam dunk combination with the style.
- Many of the versions are high rise, which is problematic for those short in the rise and waist. Mid-rise versions are harder to find.
- The extra fabric flapping around the legs feels fussy.
The most important ways to troubleshoot these challenges is to get the length and width right. No less than two to three inches above the ankle bone, and by all means shorter. I’ve seen the silhouette look fabulous a good six to ten inches above the ankle bone too. Next, choose a narrower width on the leg when you’re petite, and opt for a mid-length rise. Add heels if you feel short-legged in the style, OR lengthen the leg line from the hips upward by showcasing some or the entire waistband when you prefer to wear flats. And last, pair the pants with a low-contrast top to accentuate the vertical integrity of the outfit.
I have two pairs of wide cropped denim bottoms, and they do make me look and feel wider than cropped straight or flared pants and jeans because they aren’t as streamlined on the leg. That said, I think wide cropped pants and jeans can look elegant, fun, fashionable, and above all fresh. My own outfit proportions do look better with heels, but as long as I lengthen the leg line from the hips upward by showcasing the waistband of the pants, I happily wear them with flats.
Slowly but surely, a few more of my clients are wearing wide cropped pants and jeans when we get the length, width, footwear and top right. Black pants and blue jeans in mid and light washes have been the most popular so far. YES, I know it sounds like a lot of effort to make the silhouette work, but that can be part of the fashion fun!
Over to you. Have you come around to wearing cropped wide pants or jeans, or are you still averse to the silhouette?