Once an emerging trend in trouser land, the wide leg is now a men’s style staple. Why? Gents have fallen for the comfier fits, tapered ankle and quality fabrics. So, how to wear wide leg trousers then. Available in wool, cotton and technical fabrics, and with button-up, elastic or ruched waists, the relaxed trouser shape is friends with the other comfort-driven changes in menswear: soft-shouldered suiting and longer, roomier outerwear. Who said “fashion is pain?”
Wide leg trousers — more than other time — are coming back in a huge way; from the Cali boy with baggy pants and bowler shirt, to the office gent with wide wool separates and a soft blazer,” says Melvin Tanaya, co-founder and designer of Sydney label, Song For The Mute (SFTM).
There you have it. Permission granted. Let’s get educated in wide leg trouser-style, thanks to one of Australia’s hottest designers.
Like slim and regular fit – wide leg trousers come in your typical pant fabrics – varying from fine to thick depending the season and occasion. “Wide leg trousers need structure,” says Tanaya. “As a rule, stick with wool. At SFTM, we use wool garbadine. It gives the trouser the weight it needs. Plus, you can machine wash it and its transeasonal, perfect for summer and winter.”
For a lighter material, look to cotton mohair-blend or a pure cotton with a coating. “For extra texture,” says Tanaya.
As a beginner’s rule, wide leg trousers look better in darker shades such as charcoal, navy and black and earthen neutrals such as camel, beige and stone.
“If you’re not one for colour, pants are a great way to introduce it into your look,” says Tanaya. Meanwhile, patterns provide a step-up for the wide leg trouser, too: checks, pinstripes or even polka dots all ideal for the nattier dresser.
“Look to a monochrome herringbone, or a coloured tartan check with a mix of colour — yellow, green, blue. Select your trouser first, and build your outfit up from the pant, keeping the top simple. You don’t want the top and bottom to fight each other for attention.”
Depending on the formality of the trouser, most will sit slightly higher on the waist, says Tanaya. “Go for one with a tapered leg from knee to ankle, and cropped ending with a clean hem or a five centimetre cuff. I like to pair mine with a statement sock and low profile sneaker or leather dress shoes.”
Front pleats are another stylistic choice. “Flat front or a single pleat – it’s a personal preference,” says Tanaya. Last add on? Pull tabs at the sides to give you shape at the waist, sans belt, and a more succinct, personalised fit, especially when the shirt is tucked.
How To Rock It
- Keep the top half of your outfit tailored or a clean, neat fit. A blazer or cropped jacket is ideal, cutting on (or just below) the trouser hem so to give you streamline waist, not swamping your torso.
- Go for a cropped pair to keep the look contemporary, with a statement hem.
Opt for low profile dress shoes with a thick sole such as a pair of chunky derbies, or minimalist sneakers.
And, starting out formal and getting more casual, here are the five best relaxed trousers for men:
#1 Wool Trousers
Wide-leg trousers faultlessly combine the smart look of tailoring with the comfort of more relaxed styles. For winter, look to grey and navy wool/flannel trousers, or a mohair-wool blend in summer.
“Like regular dress pants, get your wide leg trouser tailored to fit you properly, getting them altered post-purchase if you buy them off the rack,” advises Tanaya.
A tucked in collared shirt, knit or soft blazer works well with the woollen trouser. “But with tailoring, don’t wear a belt,” says Tanaya. “It cuts across your look and the belt becomes the focus, rather than the sweet jacket and trouser combo.” Wear these trousers to the office with polished brogues, switching to fresh and clean sneakers at the weekend.
#2 Jaunty Jogger
The jogger (aka trackpant) is your athleisure answer to the wide leg trouser. “Track pants are a best-seller for us. Stick to one you can dress up — cut in a specific silhouette and fabric that doesn’t scream ‘trackpant’,” says Tanaya. An elasticated waist band and cuffed ankle which gives the trouser a nicer shape, designed to be worn lower and with a drawstring.
As for quality jogger fabrics. “Think rayon-blends for summer and cotton-bonded with neoprene for winter. The most luxurious will be made from double-faced fabric; cotton on the inside and wool outside.”
Overall, the trackpant is a great introductory piece to the wide leg. “It suits most body types and looks good on every guy.” To stand out, play around with colour and look to patches and embellishment for a point of difference. A safe way is wearing yours at the weekend with a bomber and simple sneakers, or a simple tee and hi-tops in summer.
#3 Cool Cotton Pleats
Perfectly summer (without forgoing formalities), lightweight cotton pants in a relaxed leg offer breathability and style for any off-duty outfit. Look for a neutral coloured trouser with ruche front pleats and cropped wiht a regular stitch hem. A silk floral, revere-collared shirt is sharp spring or go fifties with a white cotton tee, super-fitted with a cotton chore coat or shacket.
Forgo socks too, slipping into a pair of loafers or white low profile sneakers. Final style tip? Tuck in the top, to show off those pleats. “Unlike tailoring, a tucked tee looks smart with a nice leather belt,” says Tanaya.
#4 Relaxed Jeans
While not trousers exactly, relaxed-fit denim are you super-cas go-to’s. Opt for your favourite pair of blue on a 12 oz. weight. Not too thin, which looks cheap, and not top heavy, as they’re harder to break in.
“Picture a painter’s denim jean,” says Tanaya. “A baggy, longer rise cut with the cuff rolled up three to four times. Don’t be scared to get it dirty, wear it in nicely, sleep in them even, and get nice creases. I’m into distressing, heavy washed denim.”
And, go Japanese. “They understand yarning, and indigo dyeing processing the best.”
#5 New Cargos
While regular cargo pants are a style sin, there’s a new cargo kid on the block. It’s all about wide leg: a roomier thigh and seat area, and then tapered from the knee down. Compared to regular cargos, look for a pair with pockets that cut cleaner and simpler than traditional utilitarian versions too, less bulk.Stick to three-quarter pants, military pocket pants that are oversized. Darting on the knee gives back the illusion that your knee is bending, which looks cool,” says Tanaya.
Then there’s colour. Khaki still works well, but consider black, navy or charcoal for a less army aesthetic to your pants. “Look for textured fabrics, such as coated cotton, which shapes to your leg and crumbles a little, perfect for summer or winter.”
Now, click through the slideshow for the brands doing the best wide leg trousers for men this season.