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How to Wear Wide-Leg Pants for Women over 50

Skinny jeans may not be down and out for the count this season, but wide-legged pants are making a comeback in a big way. They’ve never really been out of style, but since they’re on trend this season, they’re more available at all price points. For our Style Edit Over 50 this month, Cindy and I are tackling wide-leg pants.

Can a woman over 50 wear wide-leg pants in a flattering way? Absolutely! Let’s look at how to do it, even if you’re short…I am just 5’4″.

As always, you can click the red text for more information and to shop the item at no additional cost to you.


The secret to wearing wide-leg pants is all in the proportions you use to create a flattering silhouette. When a pant is wide, your top needs to be closer to the body and no longer than your waist or high hip. In addition, many have a high-rise which makes a shorter top even easier to wear, including the new cropped sweaters.


Wide-leg crops can look similar to the culottes we used to wear back in the day, depending on the length. They look great with boots in the winter, mules in the spring, and flat sandals in the summer. These jeans are available in regular and petite. I bought the regular because I have such a long torso I need the highest rise I can get for muffin top comfort.

You may also enjoy – How Long Should Your Pants Be?

woman wearing short tied at wasit over wide leg pants

In general, the wider the leg, the softer the fabric should be. Linen, rayon, bamboo, polyester, lightweight silk, and cotton make wonderful palazzo pants because they swish when you move and drape beautifully. Many of these come with an elastic waist which is important to conceal. Visible elastic waistbands are as unflattering as visible panty lines and are best to avoid. If you’re less than thrilled with your waistline, you can tuck in your top and blouse it over the waistband slightly or tie a button-down shirt below the waist like I’m doing here.

My Birdies mules are incredibly comfortable. This Songbird style is available with an adorable pom-pom on top this year, but that’s not my style for outerwear, so I’m hoping they come out with other embroidered patterns this spring.

woman wearing wide leg crop jeans and cardigan

Can the classic dresser wear wide-leg pants? Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Deitrick certainly did and looked amazing. Their outfits always looked polished, totally classic, and often included a belt. Coco Chanel’s wider leg sailor pants are legendary and a look that’s often duplicated today like these Talbots jeans.

woman wearing wide leg jeans over 50

These wide-leg denim jeans nod to Chanel’s famous sailor pants with the double-buttons up the front and wide hem. The buttons are just for show, and the zipper works.

Can petite women wear wide-leg pants?

How about petite women? Shorter women often look better in a wide-leg pant in stiffer fabrics because they add structure. They will also elongate the look of your leg if you can wear them with a small heel. Some women like to puddle their wide-leg pants, but I don’t recommend it for petite women because it could end up looking like you’re too short for your pants 🙂

petite woman over 50 wearing wide leg crop jeans

With full-leg crop pants, I prefer a shoe, slide, or sandal that allows some skin to show on the top of the foot and ankle. Soes with a low cam,p like a ballet flat are especially nice with crops.


wide leg pants on woman over 50

Wide-legged pants conceal the shape of your legs, so they’re great for camouflaging heavy thighs. They won’t make you look heavier than you are if you get the proportions right. I love wide-leg pants because they add balance to my broad shoulders plus they add an element of drama to my outfits that I adore.

Some great places to find wide-leg pants are AnthropologieASOSMadewellEileen FisherJ.Jill, and Nordstrom.

Have you dabbled with wide-leg pants lately?

Head over to Cindy Hattersley Design and check out how she’s styling wide leg pants.

Thanks for reading ladies and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

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  1. I like a wider or straight leg pant preferably in a full length and high waisted. I think the waist drawing in creates a better silhouette, just my two cents. I’m not attracted to cropped pants on myself, I’d rather a knee length skirt/ dress.

  2. Katelyn K says:

    I’m one of those with the cellulite and skin flap thighs (from large weight loss) so love wide leg and palazzo pants and own well over a dozen pairs (perhaps even more 🙂 ) in various shades of blue, green, purple, goldenrod, white and prints. There is just something ultimately feminine about how the legs drape and flow. I even own palazzo pant bathing suit coverups and PJs (most recently the blue/violet flower printed silk cotton blend bottoms from Talbot’s Haven). I simply cannot pass up a well fitting pair and will head over to JJill this week to try on the Wearever style in the navy print pattern. I wear them with and without wide and boho belts, crop or tucked tees, tied or tucked blouces and at times, even with dusters. Did I say I cannot get enough of these style slacks? Wish the sailor style jeans were available in a 6/8 petite or regular but alas, are sold out. I’ll keep checking though.

    1. It sounds like you have an amazing collection! Well done, Katelyn

  3. Very helpful loved the examples. Donna

  4. Terrific tips/guidelines, Jennifer and particularly like the BR w/l crop jeans and T’s w/l jeans on you! As for myself I do have long legs and the styles I do have of them are either a full crop with a waistband and pleated with a front fly closure that are a little more polished I feel, than a pair that are shorter and have no waistband (as has a facing) with a side invisible-zipper. The latter also has a coordinated tank-like top that when worn together gives the illusion of a one piece (jumpsuit) garment when a belt is added. Besides the footwear that you recommend I find a ‘low vamp’ peep-toe shoe or open strappy low-wedge sandals also work for myself. -Brenda-

    1. I totally agree about the low vamp. Thanks Brenda

  5. You make an excellent point about proportions. Your demonstration of a short top with wide leg pants illustrates how that works. It also explains why short tops and wide legs look awful on this 5’7″ girl. I carry most of my weight in the region between my waist and knees. So I look better in long tops (tunics) and slim leg pants. A nice necklace that draws the eye up completes the look.

    1. Proportion is everything for many of us.:)

  6. I love wide leg pants! At 5’4” I am very aware that the length of any wide leg pants makes a huge difference on me and I prefer full length over a crop, but I do have a couple cropped ones. I love a linen ( especially a linen blend) wide leg pant on a hot day and I have added more of them to my closet in the past few months. I just ordered a pair of wide leg light weight denim jeans and can’t wait until they get here. They might be more of a chambray, but still excited to get them.
    Jennifer, you are so good at explaining why some styles or shapes look better than on different body types. Thank you!

    1. I love the sound of your chambray wide legs! What’s the brand?

  7. While you look great in these wide legged pants….it’s the skinny or straight leg pants for me!

  8. I love the wide pants, and they look great on you. I bought two pairs of them yesterday, so this was a timely post for me. Thanks!

  9. How would you style wide leg pants for a figure 8 body?

  10. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    Not everyone.has the body of the older stars you mentioned.
    I wouldn’t wear the wide leg because I know my body type and I am not tall, tall, or extremely thin.
    Thanks for sharing.

    PS. Show us some shoes that come in wide!

  11. Jennifer, I want to add a general comment. I think you provide so much value in your blog. You don’t just show us how clothes look, you also explain how elements / pieces work together. I, for one, really appreciate the value you provide.

    1. Thank you Maeve. I’m happy you find that helpful.

  12. I like the linen tied shirt and navy wide pants . I am 5’2” and 10 lbs over weight. I don’t know if I will look as good in them as you do . I will have to go in stores to try on. I really love the easy going , relaxed look.

  13. Hah! I tried to find wide legged trousers last year, but it appears I was a bit ahead of the curve! Love love these styles as they provide a bit of ease and airflow in the summer months! I’ve been looking for off-white wide-legged jeans. The BR might fit the bill! I am going to try them. Thanks Jennifer!

  14. I like the look of wide-legged pants but struggle with the shoes. Your choices here look great. What if sandals or mules are not an option (e.g., winter). Sneakers seem too clunky and most of us aren’t wearing heels. Loafers?

    1. A ballet flat is a sleek option under a full leg. Sneakers would work but the less detailing the better. I love a slim ankle boot under wide legs in the winter. Loafers are a great look too and a small lug sole gives boost in height.

  15. Thanks so much for this – your modelling is so helpful. I’d been interested in the J Jill pants but after reading reviews and seeing them on you, I decided I really didn’t like them. On the flip side, I loved the BR trousers. There is also a linen trouser on Anthro that I like a lot. IMO you are spot on in your advice for tops: the BR styling is big on top and bottom and doesn’t do the model any favors.

    1. Big all over is hard for most women to pull off.

  16. I love all the looks on you but on me I think it might be a different story. At 5’1 and 98 lbs it is so hard to find pants to begin with. I think I’ll try a pair that are not too wide. Wish me luck!

    1. You are tiny. Straight or full might be a better proportion on you, Rose. Check out Talbots, they have some lovely ones.

  17. Jennifer I love every one of these looks. I especially love the linen shirt with the navy pants and mules. You look so chic in that outfit. Those pants are really flattering with the tucking detail down the front. It is always fun doing these post together!

    1. I’m always so inspired by your style! Great topic this month

  18. Love wide legged pants. At 5’10″, it’s been a favorite style for years. I do agree you need a sleeker top otherwise you can go into a costumey Mame style quickly. The exception would be a shorter close fitting tunic which can play into boho vibe. Your looks are great. I do prefer the ones where you’ve tucked the shirt instead of ones where the shirt is tied up. The tucked shirt makes your waist look small and keeps it from overwhelming your small frame. The tied up shirt seems to hit your waist in an odd place…at least to my eye. Maybe if it was tied a bit higher?

    1. Lucky you being nice and tall! Yes,the shirt looks nicer tied higher on my waist for sure because that elongates my legs.

  19. Rhoda Clark says:

    OMG! Thank you for posting about wide leg pants. I bought a pair of Liz Claiborne wide leg pants, jeez, about ten years ago. The. I put on weight and couldn’t get in them, but I loved them so much I couldn’t let them go. Now that I have dropped over fifty pounds, they fit and now I have some ideas on how to style them. I’m about 5’8” and about 143 pounds. I have always been self conscious about my long legs. I grew up in an era that made pants above the ankle look really dorky. Now that doesn’t seem to matter. I am also going to look into those marvelous linen pants from Chico’s. I live in southeast Texas and anything that breaths during the humid months is a definite plus. And you look great in everything you’re wearing.

    1. Congratulations on your weight loss! Your height will look so fabulous with wide leg pants!

  20. I haven’t worn wide leg pants yet but like the look. I’ve worn boot cut jeans for years (when I can find them). What is the difference between those 2? Are wide leg pants wide for the entire leg and boot cut pants only wide below the knee? Anyway, you look great as always, Jennifer!

    1. Boot cut is slimmer through the hip and through then flares at the knee. Wides come in varying widths so you experiment to find the one you like best.

  21. Do not like wide pants style on me or you

    1. It’s a very distinctive look that’s not for every woman. Luckily thee are lots of portions for every taste in the stores this season.

  22. Jan Correll says:

    Great post! I love wide leg pants and all of these look great in you!

  23. I have always worn wider, or at least full leg pants. And I’m only 4’11”. I don’t do the cropped length because my legs are proportionately short. I wear them as long as i can without creating a break in the fabric. And always with a heeled sandal or boot. For daytime, wedges add stability. I’m so happy to have lots of choices now that they’re on trend, and I’m buying a bunch while they’re in the stores! I just hated skinnies!!!

    1. Love wide leg pants AND skinny leggings…it’s good to have a mix. BTW, it’s KathArine Hepburn with an “a”.

      1. Thanks Mary, I fixed my spelling 🙂

    2. You have lots of great options this season, Susan. Longer ones look best on my short self too which is why I cheat a bit and buy the non-petite versions.

  24. I’ve never been a fan of wide-legged pants, but I appreciate all the great tips about how to wear them, Jennifer.

    1. Happy Tuesday Andrea!

  25. Love, love, love wide leg pants and I have a closet full of them. I’m 5’7″ and slim, so this has always been a style I’ve gravitated to.

    1. I used to have more styles and most are knit fabrics. I’m inspired to add some more linen options this summer.