By Alana Pedalino
What did Free People, Nasty Gal and Balmain all have in common this spring? Each brand ditched skinny jeans in favor of the ’70s trend style bloggers are loving right now: wide leg pants, also known as culottes, bell-bottoms and flares.
But why hate? Wide leg pants are hot right now because they have gotten an update, starting with their name. These pants are nothing like what your mom once wore with sweater vests, or Lindsay Weir’s Freaks and Geeks uniform or the gauchos of the early 2000s.
Though the fashion industry is experiencing yet another throwback to the ’70s, the trend has been reinvented, both color- and material-wise. With wide leg pants, the fashion industry is not only catering to the modern woman’s disposition to make a statement without trying too hard, but embracing women of all shapes and sizes.
“[Wide leg pants] are so fun and fashionable, and they look great on so many different body shapes,” wrote junior government and politics major Nikki Waxman in an email.
Waxman wrote that she “often dresses bohemian” and has worked in upscale retail stores such as Free People and South Moon Under for five years. She wears wide leg pants on the regular, and prefers them to her skinny jeans.
“You feel like you’re wearing pajamas,” she wrote. “It’s hard to find skinny jeans that fit perfectly, and ill-fitting skinny jeans are the worst.”
In addition to wide leg pants’ comfort factor, sophomore economics and finance major Gili Naftalovich said there is a message behind the silhouette shift that nods to style icons Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn, the original wearers of wide leg pants.
“What’s coming in [to fashion] right now is more not tight and sexy, but more flowy and confident,” the Terp Fashion Club president said. “It’s like ‘I’m confident enough to be wearing these pants that are making a statement.’”
Naftalovich also said that wearing wide leg pants can empower the wearer, and change the way people observe outfits.
“[It’s not] ‘look at my legs’ or ‘look at my top,’” she said. “Now it’s like ‘look at me as a whole person.’”
Naftalovich makes sense – style bloggers/role models Leandra Medine and Olivia Palermo among numerous others have each been photographed wearing the trend and oozing confidence while doing it. Medine even published a love letter to “big pants” on her site The Man Repeller highlighting the style potential for wide leg pants while addressing the big question on many fashionista’s minds – are skinny jeans dead?
“Wide leg pants coming in [to fashion] aren’t really going to make skinny jeans or leggings go out [of fashion], because they’re all used for different occasions and different looks,” said senior finance major and CEO of e-commerce website Unwritten Michelle Shahparast.
As a result, wide leg pants give fashionistas the chance to experiment with tops they normally would not wear with skinnies. Shahparast said she would style wide leg pants with a crop top to balance the volume of the pants, and Naftalovich said she would style the pants with a tube top that exposes the midriff and accentuates the waist.
No matter what you wear on top, wide leg pants will always evoke the effortlessness of the ’70s.