The 18 Best Wide-Leg Pants, From Sailor Styles to Culottes

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These are our wide-leg wonders.

<p>InStyle / Brian Kopinski</p>

InStyle / Brian Kopinski

There’s something so satisfying about a good pair of wide-leg pants. They feel swishy, stylish, and smart like you’re jetting off for a vacation on the French Riviera. They can run the style gamut, too, from sturdy sailor pants to silkier culottes, meaning there’s a pair of wide-leg pants for everyone, no matter your style, size, or body shape.

Finding—and wearing—the perfect pair can be a challenge, though. How wide is too wide? What’s the best material? And what shoes do you wear with them? To answer all those questions and help you find the very best pair of wide-leg pants, we put together a list of our favorites. We enlisted the help of fashion experts, such as stylist Alison Lewis, Wildfang Creative Director Taralyn Thuot, and Rebdolls Buying Director Denise Paula. We checked out what we’ve worn and loved and what people are loving elsewhere online. These 18 pairs of wide-leg pants are fun, comfy, and look great, and you’ll want to wear them for years to come.

Best Overall: Maeve The Colette Linen Cropped Wide-Leg Pants

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Why We Love It: A high-waisted pair of pants that can be dressed up or down, Maeve’s Colette crops are flattering on literally everyone. With a reasonable flare and ankle-length cut, these pants are wide enough to look cool, but not so billowy that you’ll feel like you can only wear them on some exotic island vacation. With two big front pockets, they’ve got a little visual interest to them, and they come in 13 colors and patterns, so if you find that you like the way they fit, you can snag multiples.

Who It’s For: Anyone willing to try a color or five in so many size options. Still, high-waisted silhouettes might not be the most flattering on some plus-sized bodies.

Material: Linen, viscose, elastane | Size: 23–34 standard, 23–34 tall, 16W–26W plus

Best Budget: Old Navy High-Waisted Cropped Wide-Leg Pants

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Why We Love It: Cropped, wide-leg canvas pants should be a part of everyone’s spring and summer closet. They're fun, even beachy, especially when paired with a crisp white sneaker or fisherman sandal. We love Old Navy’s High-Waisted Cropped Wide-Leg Pants because they sit at the belly button, have a looser hip and thigh, and hit right above wearers’ ankle bones, making them look very chic and now. Unlike a traditional canvas sailor pant,

Who It’s For: Old Navy’s crops have a little spandex woven into the fabric, allowing just enough give to make them exceptionally comfortable and easy to move around in. However, it’s worth noting that they may run too wide in the hips.

Material: Canvas | Size: 2–18

Best Denim: Levi's Ribcage High-Waist Wide-Leg Jeans

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Why We Love It: If you were to invest in one pair of wide-leg jeans, we suggest going for a classic style. With the same fabric and aesthetic as Levi's ever-loved Ribcage jeans, this style fits that bill. That, plus the fact that it's available in six washes makes them one with little to be desired. Given the flowiness of the silhouette and the rigidness of the fabric, it strikes the perfect balance between flexible and structured. Wear them with a blazer and heels to the office or a plain white tee and sneakers on the weekend.

Who It's For: Some people love stretch in their denim, while others don't. A good solution for the latter group who doesn't want to sacrifice good mobility is this pair of jeans.

Material: Cotton, recycled cotton | Size: 23-34

Best Black: Wildfang Empower Wide-Leg Trouser

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Why We Love It: A Portland, Oregon-based brand that challenges gender norms, celebrating the masculine, feminine, and everything in between, Wildfang is committed to inclusion, sustainability, and giving back. Emboldened by the belief that all bodies should feel comfortable in what they wear, the brand makes cool, gender-neutral clothes like the Empower Wide-Leg Trousers, which look as sharp with a sports bra as they do with a dinner jacket.

Who It’s For: These gender-neutral pants make everyone look tough but cool and classy, too. High-waisted with a tab front closure and double front pleats, these pants are flowy and tailored, making them perfect for all occasions. Thuout says she loves the way the Empower pants pair with a tailored vest, saying the look gives off a “serious Julia Roberts ’90s fashion vibe.”

Material: Polyester, rayon, spandex | Size: 0–30W

Best Printed: Ace & Jig Jo Midi Pants

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Why We Love It: A relatively small fashion house run by two female-identifying creators, Ace & Jig believes that bold fabrics bring the world joy, designing its yarn-dye textiles with an eye toward color, pattern, and texture. The brand says its Jo Midi pants are “generous,” and that’s almost an understatement. The classic culottes can almost pass for a midi-length skirt, with their elasticized waistband and front pleats. They come in five eye-catching patterns, from Milano, which is a blend of two chambray tones, to Whirlwind, a screamingly bright warm-weather plaid that will get you noticed for sure.

Who It’s For: Statement makers will love these pants’ bright and bold pattern.

Material: Cotton | Size: XXS–4X

Best Tall: Ripley Rader Black Ponte Knit Wide Leg Pant

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Why We Love It: If you’re the type of person who loves to rock a simple, all-black look—heels and all—to work or dinner, then these Ripley Rader Black Ponte Knit Wide-Leg Pants are for you. This high-waisted pant with a leg that widens as it goes down makes practically everyone look longer and leaner, almost like the letter “A.” With an inseam that’s cut long with heels in mind, the Ripley Ryder pants are so beloved by consumers that the company even refers to them as “the perfect pant,” a moniker it’s hard to argue with.

Who It’s For: Heel lovers will be thrilled to know that an inseam is cut with some added height in mind. But if you’re not a heels person, these might be too long.

Material: Ponte knit, viscose, nylon | Size: 0–22

Best for Work: Uniqlo Wide-Fit Pleated Pants

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Why We Love It: A longtime favorite of shoppers worldwide, Uniqlo’s Wide-Fit Pleated Pants are our favorites for good reason. These poly-blend stunners are moderately wide cut, meaning they follow the line of most wearers’ hips straight down, creating an elongated silhouette. They drape elegantly, and because they’re made of two-way stretch fabric, they flatter many body types. (They’re high-waisted, too, and they have a slightly elasticized waist, which is always a good thing.) Uniqlo’s pants are wrinkle-resistant, have belt loops just in case, and come in four colors, including black for everyday and white, which would be perfect for an afternoon strolling along La Croisette in Cannes or a summer Friday in the city.

Who It’s For: Straight-sized bodies, as the style doesn’t come in extended sizing.

Material: Polyester | Size: XXS–XXL

Best Lightweight: Change Of Scenery Brooke Pants

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Why We Love It: Wide-leg pants are a vacation must. You can throw them on to go down to the pool, put them on with a tank top for a walk on the beach, or dress them up for a nice dinner. Pack smart with Change Of Scenery’s Brooke Pants, which are made of soft, breathable cotton gauze, giving them a nice light feeling, especially for summer.

Who It’s For: With a drawstring elastic waist, these pants are great for those who require a very customizable fit. While the pants are meant to be worn higher, if you prefer a lower, hip-slung look, you can always order up a size. Either way, you’re going to be comfortable.

Material: Cotton, viscose poplin | Size: XS/S–M/L

Best on Amazon: Tronjori Women High Waist Palazzo Trousers

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Why We Love It: Giving what some buyers call “a very European flare,” with a small, close-to-the-body high waist and a gradual widening down the length of the pants, these palazzos come in 31 color and print variations as well as a wide range of sizes, including short and long lengths. They’re also machine washable, an attribute that’s certainly always welcome.

Who It’s For: If you’re looking for a cute, affordable pair of very wide-legged pants, Amazon buyers say you could do a lot worse than these Tronjori Palazzo Pants, which they say are soft, flowy, and super comfortable.

Material: Polyester | Size: XS–2XL

Best for Travel: Athleta Brooklyn Heights High Rise Wide Leg Pant

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Why We Love It: A perennial style at Athleta, these Brooklyn Heights Wide-Leg Pants are perfect for work, weekends, or long, cross-country flights. Made from lightweight recycled polyester, these pants are incredibly breathable and wrinkle-resistant. They’re quick-drying, which can be important on trips, and they offer UPF 50+ protection. They’re also abrasion resistant, meaning they don’t really snag or tear, and they have concealed zip pockets, so you can hide your phone, wallet, and boarding pass away securely and with ease.

Who It’s For: Or rather, not ideal for—the pleats aren’t always the most flattering on apple-shaped bodies.

Material: Recycled polyester, spandex | Size: 0–26

Best Casual: Wild Fable Women's High-Rise Wide Leg French Terry Sweatpants

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Why We Love It: Available in black, gray, and off-white, these wide-leg sweats are great for kicking around the house or running to the grocery store. With a fully elasticized waist and functional pockets, they’re fun and functional, and the wide open bottoms mean you’ll look more “woman out on the town” than “Rocky Balboa out for a jog in Philadelphia.”

Who It’s For: Given its low price point and that it only comes in really basic colors, this option is great for those looking for a really basic, budget pick that zooms in on casual comfort.

Material: Recycled polyester | Size: XS–4XL

Best Sailor: Boden Sailor Wide Leg Pants

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Why We Love It: A high-waisted, dark rinse pant that leans into classic nautical style, Boden’s Sailor Pants are perfectly chic. With three buttons running down the front of each hip, the pants harken back to what members of the Navy used to be required to wear at sea.

Who It’s For: Those who want to look put-together with little fuss will love this style. Because they have a zipped fly in the front, you won’t have to struggle with your buttons every time you go to the bathroom.

Material: Cotton, elastane | Size: 2–20/22

Best Striped: I Love Tyler Madison Amanda Side Stripe Wide Leg Pant

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Why We Love It: Don’t love solid-color pants? Mix black and white with I Love Tyler Madison’s Amanda pants, which have a wide, contrasting stripe running down the side of each leg. (White stripes on the black pants, black stripes on the white pants.) There’s something inherently cool about the look, which pairs just as well with Converse and a T-shirt as it does with a tucked-in tuxedo shirt. The pull-on waistband and relaxed fit mean they’re incredibly comfortable to wear, and should you want to look even more cool, you can always throw your hands in the discrete front pockets when you’re standing around.

Who It’s For: Anyone interested in some practical pattern play will love these. Just keep in mind that there are no back pockets on this trouser style.

Material: Viscose, nylon, elastane | Size: XS–XL

Most Comfortable: Lacson Ravello Vivian Pant

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Why We Love It: If your “work from home” look has devolved into “never get out of your pajamas,” then it might be time for a wake-up call. As your new go-to, we nominate these Lacson Ravello Wide-Leg Vivian pants, which are made of an incredibly soft stretch cotton jersey knit that drapes well and is both wrinkle-resistant and machine washable. They’re easily dressed up or down, depending on the shirt and shoes you wear them with, and the wide stretch waistband makes you feel extra secure in your mid-section—and extra comfortable.

Who It’s For: Those on the hunt for the most sensible wide-leg pants—ones that are comfortable yet put-together—will consider these a game-changer in their everyday wardrobes.

Material: Bamboo and cotton jersey knit | Size: XS–XL

Best White: Zara High Waist Marine Straight Pocket Jeans

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Why We Love It: For a California-cool look that’ll have you feeling like either a Haim sister or ’70s era Linda Ronstadt, you can’t beat these Zara jeans, which pair a high-waisted cut with cool front and back patch pockets, all set off with a cool, contrasting topstitch. The unfinished hem makes them look perfectly worn-in like you’ve just been hanging out all summer in a field somewhere, and—contrary to those boring old style rules—you really can rock these white pants all year round.

Who It’s For: Lewis says these are her favorite “budget-friendly option” if you’re looking for wide-leg pants, especially because they come in a pretty wide range of basic colors. The biggest downside is that they only come in sizes up to 12.

Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Size: 0–12

Best Barbie Pink: Gap High Rise Stride Wide-Leg Ankle Jeans

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Why We Love It: Lewis told us that she loves all the pink wide-leg pants that are coming onto the market this spring, like these Gap High Rise Stride Ankle Jeans. They’ve got a relaxed, easy fit that seems supremely casual, as well as an 11-inch rise, meaning you’ll feel plenty secure. They’re also ankle length, so you can pair them with a perfect pair of flip-flops, flats, or sneakers, depending on where the day is taking you.

Who It’s For: Anyone missing the decade-old colored denim trend. But even for those who think pink might seem like a bold statement, the pants are easy to wear with something neutral—a white button-down or a black T-shirt—and you’ll look perfect. Keep in mind, too, that bigger sizes tend to sell out quicker at the Gap, so you have to jump on something if you love it.

Material: Cotton, elastane | Size: 24–35

Best Cropped: Everlane Way-High Gardener Cropped Jean

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Why We Love It: Americans love jeans, and for good reason. We invented them 150 years ago, and we’ve been fiddling with the look ever since. While we love a standard pair of jeans, we also love these Everlane Way-High Gardener Cropped Jeans, which have a cool contrasting topstitch, and big, interesting pocketsl and hit about 2–3 inches above the ankle. They look easy and cool all by themselves, meaning you can throw them on with a T-shirt while running out the door for school drop-off and you’ll still look fabulous.

Who It’s For: Those looking for a versatile and effortlessly chic pair of wide-leg jeans to wear through spring, summer, and fall will find their perfect match here. Still, it’s worth noting that while the big front pockets might look cool, some buyers have complained that little items tend to get lost in them, leading to some unflattering digging around.

Material: Cotton | Size: 23–33

Best Flare: Anthropologie Pilcro Foxglove Mid-Rise Flares

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Why We Love It: What’s a wide-leg pant list without a good old-fashioned pair of flares? These Pilcro pants from Anthropologie have a cool, conductor-like vertical stripe running straight up and down the legs, tricking the eye into thinking wearers look a little taller.

Who It’s For: On straighter, less curvy bodies, the legs of these pants flare straight out from the body, making the pants look almost like culottes. On curvier bodies, though, they might hug the hips and thighs a bit more, leading the flare to start at the knee.

Material: Cotton, elastane | Size: 23–34

What to Keep in Mind

  • Fit: Finding a good pair of wide-leg pants can be a bit of a trial-and-error operation. You might have to try on a few pairs to figure out what cut or style works for your body. Do you prefer something high-waisted that leads to a more subtle flair? Or if you’re apple- or pear-shaped, perhaps you want a wide-leg pant with pleats for maximum flow? There’s a wide world of wide-leg pants out there, too. Play around with leg width to see what works for you. Thuot says, as far as she’s concerned, wide-leg pants are “anything that can fall easily over a shoe,” meaning “a consumer thinks of pants as ‘wide-leg’ whether they have a 20-inch circumference or a 50-inch.” Paula says the most flattering wide-leg pants are the ones that either fall straight down from your natural hip line or flare straight out, giving your body a longer, more streamlined silhouette.

  • Fabric: Wide-leg pants can come in a range of fabrics, depending on what kind of vibe the makers are going for. Beachier pants will be in gauzier fabrics, like linen or cotton, while sailor pants, jeans, or work pants will be made out of sturdier materials like canvas or denim. “It’s all about the look you’re going for,” says Thuot. “A more structured fabric will hold the shape of the silhouette more, which offers a more dramatic look, whereas a drapey fabrication can lean more laid back.” Either way, look for stretchiness in your fabrics, she says, since it makes the material more comfortable and gives it a better fit.

  • Style: While all three of our experts agree that you can wear wide-leg pants with just about anything, anywhere, at any time, some did offer a little guidance in regards to how they like to rock them. Thuot says she always rocks the brand’s wide-leg pants with a crop or tight-fitted top, which she says “accentuates the waist and offers flattering proportions.” Accentuating your waist in wide-leg pants is especially important since it’s pretty easy to end up losing your shape if you pair them with an oversized top or tunic. “Wide-leg pants are about comfort and style,” says Paula, “so push yourself and pair them with your favorite top or shoes to add a confidence boost.”

Your Questions, Answered

What’s the best length for wide-leg pants?

That really depends. If you’re wearing canvas or denim pants with a subtler flare, then you might like a crop. You might also like a full-length pant, which could be a little more versatile year-round, depending on where you live. Flowy fabrics tend to work best either in cropped looks like flares or culottes or in longer, more billowing cuts, where they can flow away from the body.

How do you style wide-leg pants?

Wide-leg pants can be worn with absolutely anything,” says Paula. “I love to pair them with sneakers, a basic top, and a blazer for a casual but upscale look. They can be worn with sandals and a flirty top for a warm-weather event or even to run an errand. Pair them with heels and a bodysuit for a sexier look.

To get the best look, make sure to pick a top that sits close to the body or exposes the waist, like a fitted T-shirt or a boxy crop top. While Lewis says she prefers pants with a slightly stiffer fabric when she’s styling or wearing them herself, if she’s faced with a pair of wide-leg trousers, she tends to add a belt, just to give them a bit more of a shape. “It is all about playing with proportion,” Thuot says. “You have to let the wide leg be the volume in your look and keep the rest of your look sleek and form-fitting.”

What shoes to pair with wide-leg pants can also be a bit confusing, since if you put the wrong shoe with the wrong pants, you can end up looking like a circus clown. Lewis recommends ballet flats, loafers, or Adidas Gazelles, saying “a more casual shoe can dress down the pants.” Thuot, on the other hand, recommends pairing wide-leg pants with something or a heel or platform, explaining that, “the added height helps balance the width of the hem and drives home the leggy look.” (As a bonus, she also notes that a platform or heel will also keep longer wide-leg pants “from getting soaked in the rain,” which, where she lives in the Pacific Northwest, is a very pressing concern.)

Why Shop With Us

Marah Eakin, the author of this article, has been a journalist reporting on entertainment, fashion, and culture for almost 15 years. In her 40-plus years, she estimates she’s owned at least five different pairs of wide-leg pants, and has tried on about 10 times as many. As an apple-shaped woman herself, she knows the stress of trying to find a flattering pair of wide-leg pants that look just right, and she’s taken pains to learn all the ins and outs of styling and construction in an effort to find quality looks for reasonable prices.

To write this article, she interviewed stylist Alison Lewis, Wildfang Creative Director Taralyn Thuot, and Rebdolls Buying Director Denise Paula.

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