Thursday, August 7, 2014

Teacher Style: Reimagining Boot-Cut or Wide-Leg Pants

Raise your hand if you donated/sold (almost) all of your wide-leg and boot-cut pants the moment skinny pants became popular because, well, skinny pants go with a wider variety of footwear. And, gosh, who wears wide-leg or boot-cut anymore? I contest that these poor pants need more attention because there is really nothing wrong with them except that they've become the "other" child with skinny pants hogging all of the limelight. Well, skinny pants and boyfriend-cut pants, but those always make me look like a have a dumpy butt; kudos to you ladies who pull them off with finesse. That boyfriend is just not that into me, I assure you.

Anyway, I have found that my pants not in the skinny category just need a few tweaks to make them as loveable as skinny or slim-cut pants. Like me, you might have to play around with the different widths of the pants based on your shoe collection (wedges look better with pants that are wide for the entire length of the pant; heels look better with pants that gradually get wider; flats look good with ones that aren't too long). Today, I'm bringing you two pairs of pants that are NOT skinny or slim cut, and there is some variation in the two pairs.

The Pants
Pair 1: Olive slacks from Express--a dressier fabric; gradually get wider at the bottom; longer pant length to accommodate heels better

Pair 2: Cobalt slacks from LOFT--100% cotton that feels less dressy (more like a khaki material); more like a boot-cut; not as wide OR long as the olive pants, which means they work better with flats.

The Looks
I took the same top half and styled it for both pairs of pants so that you could see how I tweaked the fit of the top half in order to accommodate the fit of the bottom half. I included a lot more pictures in this post because I thought it helped. If you find the number of pictures overwhelming, forgive me.

 **Update: I added this picture about 15 minutes after publishing the post.**

Look 1 (top half): striped top + colored cardigan
(Yes, Kate, I chose this cardigan just for you.)

Cobalt Pants: Since I opted for flats, which don't make my legs look as awesome, I tucked in the shirt and added a belt to keep proportion. In other words, I didn't want to look like I was all one width, so I cinched in the waist with a belt. 

Olive Pants: I could have tucked in the shirt and added a belt, but I felt the heels changed the proportions enough to keep the shirt untucked. If you, unlike me, actually have a chest, your decisions to tuck or not tuck will vary. I cannot speak from the land of the well endowed. Sorry.
Look 2 (top half): bedazzled, blush top + cropped white blazer
I find that longer cardigans and blazers look a little weird with these pants, especially the cobalt ones because of the pockets. It creates this odd bump under the cardigan if the cardigan is too long. The shirt is too long to leave it untucked, but I'd leave a shorter shirt untucked if it didn't run too far past the length of the blazer/cardigan. (Again, it's all about proportions.)
Oh, by the way, my standing mirror is now in one room and my closet in another, which means my dogs follow me from one room to the next for every outfit change. Until they get too tired. And then you have what you see here. My canine shadows.

Cobalt Pants: Now, these "flats" have a little heel to them, so they're not too flat, but I still don't think they qualify as heels. They're the Harper flats by J.Crew Factory.

Olive Pants: These shoes are just tall enough that the pant legs don't drag on the floor. 

Look 3 (top half): sleeveless blouse + blazer + belt
So, what's different here? I changed up my color palette ever so slightly! HA! I chose olive shoes for the cobalt pants and cobalt shoes for the olive pants. If you don't have a ridiculous number of colors in your shoe selection, this option doesn't work completely. However, you can still rock the sleeveless blouse, belt, and cropped blazer look.

Look 4 (top half): printed cardigan + pendant necklace + white tank
(and sleeping puppy)

Cobalt Pants: I tried buttoning the cardigan for this look, but it looked weird with the pockets. If you are unsure about your midsection, swap the tank for a white blouse that doesn't hug you in places you don't want a hug. 

Olive Pants: The belt looked WEIRD with this top half and pair of pants; however, I wanted to cinch in my waist somehow. Now you know why I buttoned half of the cardigan. Also, if your midsection leaves you feeling self conscious, go with this option if your pockets allow you. Sweater material is much more forgiving than a body-hugging tank.
 See how the pants tuck in a little bit after my hips? If you don't want to accentuate yours more, you might opt for a pair that stays wider for the length of your legs. I think I heard that tip on What Not to Wear. (WHY did they get rid of that show?! bah.)

Look 5: chambray + leopard print shoes
Here, I played around with tucking, tying, belting, and shoe height.

Cobalt Pants: Now, I would wear this for casual Friday. When I left the chambray totally buttoned and tucked, I felt like I was wearing some bastardized version of the Canadian tuxedo, and that's kind of weird as it is. Anyway, I wanted the tank to peek out a bit, which is partly why this look feels more casual Friday to me. I opted for leopard flats instead of heels to maintain the casual vibe.

 Olive Pants: Could I tuck it in? Sure. Do I like it better tied? Yes. Is it still school appropriate while illustrating a bit of my personality? Absolutely. I considered a pendant necklace and ultimately decided to keep it simple.

Final thoughts:
* Play with proportions. A pair of pants that might make it to the donate/sell pile could look awesome if you just reconsider your top half and shoe choice.

* Never be afraid to try on anything in the store. When Mom and I were cleaning out her closet, I made her try on anything she wasn't sure about. (There was a lot of sweating and whining involved. Luckily, she still loves me.) I told her, "I know you haven't liked any of your Gloria Vanderbilt jeans you've tried on again, but I'm still making you try on this pair. How do you know they won't look amazing? They could become your favorite of the bunch!" And what do you know? She tried them on while I was falling into the abyss of her closet and asked my thoughts on them. I said I loved them, and she agreed. I asked who made them. She laughed and said, "These are those Gloria Vanderbilt ones you made me try on." The moral of the story is that I'm always right. Oh no, that's not it. It's that even if you think every pair of Exact Stretch pants from The Limited fits you terribly, you might find one that is miraculously cut just right for you. It's like a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moment. They happen in real life, people.

* It's all about reimagining.

* If the pants just look terrible on you--they make you feel like a hot dog wrapped in Saran Wrap--then donate or sell them. However, if you're "just not sure how to wear them," but they "look and feel good," then you better get to steppin' in that closet of yours for some experimentation!

Anyway, how are we feeling about this post and these headless pictures? Do we have a favorite? The ones with the dog staring at the camera? Thought so.


  1. I love the doggie in the background! Thanks for all the great outfit ideas!

  2. I think it is so cool to see how you made the little changes based on the different pants. I mean, as you know, I don't own any pants, but these tips are useful for any bottoms. I'm always making little changes depending on what skirt or jeans I am wearing. I want to steal all of the cobalt looks to wear with my skirt. Most specifically the chambray top and leopard shoes. I'm definitely copying that this fall!

  3. Your sleeping puppy is so cute :) I love the olive and chambray together, but that might just be because I'm in a neutral rut. Or because you didn't feature any outfits with your lace top ;)

  4. I am guilty of getting rid of my non-skinny jeans. After discovering fashion blogs, I started noticing that my wider-leg pants made me look frumpy with flat shoes. It may have been the particular pairs though after seeing all your wonderful wider leg pants. Yours are also a great length. It's tough with pants like that because if they are too long, they'll drag and look frumpy. If they're too short, then the proportions are all off. I struggled with my grey trouser pants from AE. They fit with flat shoes but they felt too short for me, especially when sitting. I still have them in my Goodwill-exchange-transfer-the-tags pile. I was thinking about using your tutorial to make them skinnier but realized it's not just the legs that bother me- they are just too large overall and wasn't sure I could alter them on my own. Luckily, AE started making skinny trousers and I'd like to try them out. I only wear jeans (except for those emerald pants you like) and I want to brand out. I was looking at the navy and black pair. Waiting for the next 40-50% sale.

    I really LOVE your cobalt pants. They are such a gorgeous color and fit you perfectly. I think my favorite outfits are with your chambray. And the one where you puppy is looking right at you, like what the heck are you doing? I hope I'll get a mirror in a bright enough room so I can do some similar posts, either just for fun or to compare different colors and things. I love these posts!

  5. Actually most of my pants for work are wide-leg or bootcut. I have a few skinny pair, but they feel a little casual sometimes. I love how you approached the idea of styling these pants. You are such a teacher, I bet you wrote a lesson plan for this post, didncha?

  6. I am definitely guilty of not wearing my boot cut dress pants (well any pants, really) these are cute looks and I definitely want to make myself wear pants at least once a well this year. I'll remember these for inspiration. :)

  7. I love these posts! Even though I am not in the classroom any longer, the entire series has featured outfits that are appropriate for my work environment and I love the ideas!!

  8. Your dogs are so stinking cute. I want to snuggle with them. Also, I really liked this post. I'm almost 100% certain that I don't own non-skinny pants anymore, because I feel like skinny pants are a little more versatile and I'm all about versatility in my closet. Plus, I wear flats about 360 days of the year, and flats sometimes look dumb with non-skinny pants in my head. However, I would love to find another pair of trouser-cut denim, and perhaps a flattering pair of chinos (is there such a thing, though?!). Once I find my perfect pair, I'll absolutely put some of these ideas to practice!


Feel free to throw some witticisms my way.