Hits its Stride

They’re long. They’re fluid. Wide leg pants are sprouting up everywhere this season.

But are they right for you?

“Anyone can wear full pants,” says Gina Tovar, a Nordstrom fashion director. “There are so many versions of the style.”

Indeed, you don’t have to be Twiggy to look great in billowy pants.

The key is to pay attention to your body type, which will dictate the fabric (silk, chiffon, linen, rayon), the waistband (fitted or drawstring) and the cut (very full or modified) that’s best for you.

Here’s how fashion experts say you can put together a wide-trouser look that flatters:

Inseam: It shouldn’t touch your body, but it shouldn’t droop. If you can pinch more than an inch of fabric, the trousers are too big.
Length: Pants should brush the tops of your shoes.
Waistband: If it’s bulky or it gaps, it doesn’t fit. Aim for a smooth look regardless of your shape.

Layering: For maximum polish, choose a fingertip-length tunic, perhaps over a vest. Or, go the layered route by pairing a tiny T-shirt with an oversized, hip-skimming vest. Other options: Jackets over silk drawstring pants or a body-conscious knit top tucked into crinkle-textured rayon pants with a fitted waistband.
Firm footing: Simple Roman-style sandals to oxfords to espadrilles to slingbacks will work for all body types. Chunky heels will keep the look grounded. Avoid strappy styles with spiky heels because they will make you look off-balance.

Waist definition: The proportion of what you wear on top is essential to keep wide pants from overpowering your small frame. A cropped jacket in the same hue will help to add visual height. If you forgo a jacket, perhaps for a torso-sculpting T-shirt, or a blouse, be certain to wear it tucked in.
Modified width: Chose a scaled-down version of the wide style that offers just enough of the fluid effect.

“You don’t want to get enveloped in yards and yards of fabric,” says Bernadette Conte, a designer for Eileen Fisher.

That’s the reason to avoid pleats and choose a tailored waist rather than a drawstring style.

Whittled middle: A drawstring or elastic waist affords comfort and ease of movement and gently defines the waist.
Playful proportions: Teaming an oversized blouse with a bolero vest (left open) in a contrasting color, adds interest without adding bulk. Another option: a loose-fitting jacket.
Smooth silhouette: Take a pass on pleats and fabrics that are too clingy. Linen is a good choice. Sticking to solids when it comes to color will have a slenderizing effect.

Monochromatic mileage: Choose a tonal combination of separates to help the eye skim over hips.
Soft styling: An unconstructed cardigan or fingertip-length jacket balances the look. Choose silky pants in a width that’s in scale with your size and not so billowy that it accentuates your hips.

Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week