Baby boomer fought to wear pants in school. Prior wearing pants in public was only allowed to celebrities in the Western World and when the job safety required it. This post addresses which pants are best for which body type. Learn how to chose your pants.
- Pants Can Mean Iconic Style
- How to Chose Your Pants to Hide Flaws
- The Full Truth about Looking Chic in Pants over 40
- Trousers Outfit Inspirations
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Pants Can Mean Iconic Style
One of the ultimate pants style icons is probably Lauren Bacall. She once said
I wear pants almost exclusively so I can sit like a truck driver. I own one dress - an evening gown. - Lauren Bacall #fashionquote Click To Tweet
I wear pants almost exclusively so I can sit like a truck driver. I own one dress – an evening gown.
Many women over 50 remember times when women weren’t allowed to wear pants or jeans to school. When we also happened to be the oldest girl in the family, we had to fight our way to finally wear them. Many of us made the experience that the younger sister(s) took the position of the parents. However, after you declared victory, she/they were the first to wear benefit from your battles.
How to Chose Your Pants to Hide Flaws
Whether it was the fight to wear what we wanted or just the comfort like for Lauren Bacall, most of us still love to wear pants or jeans. A new reason may be that they perfectly hide spider veins and/or bumps on the legs. Let’s get down to the bottom of why pants are great for us over 40 and which ones to wear. In the following, I will just use the word “trousers” when it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about jeans, pants, slacks, cargoes, etc.
The Full Truth about Looking Chic in Pants over 40
It is important to find the best pair for your body-type. Not sure what’s your body type? Take this free body shape quiz to find out and get the most out of the tips below.
- Trousers hide spider veins and/or bumps.
- Some trousers styles are best for one shape or the other.
- Cropped trousers shorten your legs.
- Wide trousers shorten your legs unless they have a high waist 40s style.
- Just because everyone wears cropped or wide trousers is not a reason that you have to wear them when they actually shorten your legs.
- Evening cropped trousers look terrific with high-heeled ankle strap evening shoes. Just make sure that the fabric will not get caught in the buckles.
- When you are slim and petite, go for slim leg trousers.
- When you are long-legged high waist wide leg trousers work for you with flat. Otherwise go for plateau shoes that add height and a hem that is 1/2 inch above the ground when wearing them.
- Low waist trousers elongate your torso, i.e. they are great for women with short torso, and bad for those with long torso.
- When you have a short torso, stay away from high waist trousers. They shorten your torso even more and sit under your boobs. Recall an “empire waist” is a style for dresses, never for trousers.
- Low waist trousers bear the risk to expose the Y of your bum or the tail of your thong. Any exposure of this kind is never in style. Thus, always sit down and take a selfie of your derriere to make sure you are covered appropriately.
- When wearing low rise trousers make sure your top is long enough to cover their waist band.
- Getting the leg length right is important. While there is the classic rule that the hem should hit just 1/2 of an inch over the ground, trends may be different. Thus, have the classic cuts of your wardrobe basics hemmed this way and buy them in the best quality you can effort. Go cheap on those with trendy leg lengths like the leather pants in this post.
- Unless your bum is flat like a pancake, avoid pockets with flaps.
- Small back pocket make your bum look huge, while large back pockets do the opposite. Use this knowledge in your favor depending on whether you want to play up or down the size of your bum.
- Pleat-front trousers carry off. If you don’t need the illusion of that extra weight, skip them.
- Only when you have a tummy that carves in you can wear pleated trousers.
- Floral print trousers are for vacation and dressing for outdoor concerts, open air festivals, garden and beach parties. Don’t wear them downtown.
- Animal print pants come back on a perennial cycle. Thus, wear them only when they are (again) trendy. You can find how to wear snake print pants in the post at the link.
- Wear white trousers after Labor Day for ageless style in a fall or winter outfit. So chic and unexpected.
- Trouser worn with a dress are a Do. However, watch which dress length is trendy at the moment (short tunics vs. knee length or below the knee).
- No matter how perfect your body is, anything that bulks out of the trousers’ waist band looks like you have a huge tummy and/or bum. (That’s why I am not a big fan of blouses and button-down shirts!). However, you can do a half-tuck like in the jeans outfit inspiration with the floral blouse later in this post.
- When you wear skinnies with high boots, try to stay as close to the same color to not visually cut your legs in half. You can find more on great ways to wear tall boots at this link.
- Be friendly to the environment with your fashion. Buy your jeans in a dark wash. They look slimming and more posh. Plus they last longer than the light washes or distressed jeans. Any change of the wash “wastes” water and might harm the environment. When the distress is caused by blowing sand on the fabric, small particles less than 2.5 µm in diameter may enter the lungs of the employee who does this job. On the long-term, it may harm their health.
- When you are on the fence between jeans sizes, go for the lower size.
- When you find a pair of jeans that makes your bum look hot, get two pairs, one to wear with flats, one to wear with heels. Check this guide for more on styling denim.
- Skinnies look awesome with a chunky sweater and high heels, when you have great legs. Maybe that’s why skinnies are an Alaska classic.
- When you have slim legs, wear your skinnies with stilettos and a slim cut blazer for date night. It’s a nice Rock’n Roll attitude.
- Colored denim is never as soft as jeans.
- When you want to wear cargo pants go for a slim cut. Make sure all pockets are flat and basically useless to carry anything in them. Otherwise they will add weight in undesired locations. You don’t want to risk to look like a walking diamond.
- Unless you are in your twenties, cargo pants need a high heel, no matter whether the heel is chunky, stiletto, skinny, strappy, …
- Leggings bear a high risk to make you a fashion victim. Important pre-requisites are slim legs and knees. Only style them with a tunic, sweater, trench coat, shirt or dress that entirely cover your bum. When leggings are along your line, read this post to look lovely in leggings at any age, and avoid the most common mistakes.
- When you are on the curvy side, the best cuts for you are classic or relaxed fits that sit on the hips just below your natural waist rather than on your waist. The legs should skim your thighs, i.e. not be tight. Furthermore, stay away from small back pockets, wide away set back pockets, and back pockets with flaps. They all make your curves look even wider than they are already.
- When you are curvy and have a tiny waist go for low rise stretch jeans with straight legs. They are the best fit for you because they avoid to create a gap between your hips and waist.
- When you are curvy and have a tiny waist avoid all high-waist trousers like the plague. They make your hips look unproportionable large compared to your waist. Who needs to look unbalanced?
- When your bum is flat, not body-conscious, but slim stretch jeans with decorated back pockets or flaps are your best bet jeans-wise.
- When your bum is flat, stay away from boyfriend jeans, baggy or loose trousers, and trousers in stiff fabrics.
- When your thighs are heavy, go for an easy fit around your hips. Stay away from tapered trousers and tucking in.
- When your thighs are heavy, bootcut jeans can balance your thighs.
- When you are straight up-and-down like a light pol, the boy friend jeans are for you. Depending on whether you have a long or short torso go for high and low rise, respectively.
- Jeans always look best in a medium weight (12 oz). However, when you are living in a cold climate region wear leggings underneath or go for Alaska weight (16 oz) or jeans with flannel lining.
- When your trousers have belt loops and you tuck your top in, wear a belt that fits for the size of the belt loops. More on how to best accessorize with belts in this guide.
- Match your belt to the color of your trousers when you are short-legged and/or have a long torso to elongate your legs. Match it to the top when you have a short torso and/or long legs. More on how to dress when short-waisted in this guide.
- Watch the proportions. Slim trousers can take wide tops, wide trousers need a slim top (see next photo).
- Boyfriend jeans need a heel unless you are a twenty something.
- Cuffed trousers shorten your leg. Leave them to the 5 ft 10 (1.78 m) women.
Trousers Outfit Inspirations
Don’t let the right outfit be a random thing. Wear the right look in every situation by looking up what to wear when in How to Dress for Success in Midlife. Buy my book now.
Great Northwest denim jacket, Pendleton glen check high-waist wide trousers, Kieselstein Cord Belt, ethnic buckle, Moda International cashmere sweater, LeatherCoatsEtc wool beret (all own), and Musse & Cloud booties c/o Coolway
GNW leopard print cardigan worn as top, Oliveo linen pants, GG pumps, Ray Ban sunglasses, structured bag, Judith Leiber gemstone charm belt (all own) and cape hoodie c/o Tricia Tanaka
Leather capri with Vintage Silk floral top and GNW leopard print cardigan and LV bucket bag (all own)
Anne Klein cashmere sweater, Dolce & Gabanna Madonna sunglasses, Steve Madden sandals and no brand name statement silver leather pants
When you like these outfit ideas, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.
Which style of trousers is your favorite? Which style would you like to try, but never did? What are your style challenges wearing trousers?
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Photos: G. Kramm
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