Ladies – let’s talk trousers!

posted in: Style advice, SWAP | 13

I want a pair of trousers in my SWAP. But I have a funny relationship to trousers. They are comfortable and practical. Jeans are my first choice for the weekend, and certainly when walking or cycling I would never wear a skirt. For a relaxed, off duty look, they are just the job with a comfortable jumper or T-shirt. I have a very nice navy jump suit  I got in the Topshop sale. I sometimes wear this for evening events – and accessorised it makes me look tall and slim. But overall, when I want to look my best, I choose a dress, or skirt.

So for work I generally wear a skirt or dress, usually with a jacket. I do not posses a trouser suit and while I do occasionally wear trousers for work, they are not my “go to” garments. I only have four or five (casual) pairs, compared to 15 skirts and say 10 dresses. I just prefer a dress or a skirt, which I feel is more flattering on me. The reason for this is that, like many women, my legs are not particularly long. I feel shorter and stumpier in trousers than I do in a skirt.

In my SWAP 2014 I made a pair of 1960s trousers. This style is fairly high fitting, with a defined waist, a side zip and is cut narrow to the ankle. I am wearing them with ballet flats in the same colour. I think this look is OK, it’s just not my very best look. Even standing side ways you can see my big bottom and fuller thighs. Trousers just can’t help emphasising the hips.

!950s coat,  Simplicity 6087 trousers
Simplicity 6087 trousers (SWAP 2014)

Without a doubt trousers look best on women with long straight legs, a high or flattish bottom, and slim ankles. In my view they flatter a slightly masculine physique and a straight body line. Women with a more curved body shape have to work a bit harder to find trousers that fit and flatter. This is mainly because we really need the waist emphasis that a dress or belted skirt gives us.

Let’s have a look at the trouser styles we might recommend for a curved body shape.

  • softer lines
  • softer fabrics or fabrics including elastane
  • unpressed pleats
  • tapered trousers
  • flat front trousers
  • paper bag or high-waisted trousers
  • shorts/pedal pushers (which have the advantage of ending at a more flattering point)
  • jeans with a looser fit
  • long flowing palazzo pants

If you have a straighter body shape and slim hips then trousers may well be a first choice. Here is our straight bodyline Princess in a nice pair of trousers. Her slim hips and long legs mean that she generally looks great in trousers.

Princess Diana in trousers
Princess Diana in trousers (1997)

Women with a straight body shape can try

  • tailored looks
  • firmer wovens
  • slim legged, straight trousers
  • trouser suits
  • pressed pleats
  • well-defined pockets

Trousers are the reason I started sewing. Getting jeans with a good fit on the hips without an enormous, yawning, gaping waist, made my teenage years somewhat miserable. However just making trousers that fit doesn’t always mean that they are flattering. For the SWAP I am therefore considering.

  1. a good pair of jeans (although I have two or three perfectly acceptable pairs from NYDJ)
  2. a second pair of the Simplicity 6087 trousers but in a different colour
  3. a pair of perfectly fitting tailored trousers
  4. high-waisted trousers
  5. a jumpsuit
  6. a pair of tailored shorts
  7. adapting my curvy pencil skirt to make a trouser pattern.

Any suggestions?


13 Responses

  1. BeaJay

    Sorry – not very good at giving fashion advice. Wouldn’t know a short waist from a long leg…. I do love following a very stylish lady who wears pants all the time but not sure of her body type. From the pictures she does look tall. Her blog is but don’t think I can be much help with the type of pants suit different people

  2. sew2pro

    You look great in your trousers (the colour is gorgeous) but they are close fitting so a lot like a skirt block with legs!

    You have also reminded me why I in particular need never bother sewing trousers; it’s a waste of time as I won’t be happy wearing them. Happy to wear jeans, capris and leggings though.

  3. Stephanie

    I think you look great in the pants from last year’s SWAP! Honestly! So pretty!

    It’s funny, I have more of a straight body shape on the bottom and yet I have full thighs relative to my hips and waist. I find it difficult to buy pants for this reason, so I usually go up a size and tailor the waist. During my running years I actually used to feel self-conscious about my thighs, especially around skinnier running girls (on a running trip to Japan, a brochure was published with the weight and height of all of the girls and I was the heaviest!) and then I realized that they were useful for training and not getting injured. My coach used to say that the girls without my quads could not power up a hill. For years I gravitated to wearing skirts to hide my thighs, but then I realized that I was being overly self-conscious (and also that pants are warmer in winter)!

    A curvy shape is attractive, whether in pants or a skirt, although you are more expert on matching styles to body types than I am. As I said, I love those pink pants on you. I wonder if a fuller trouser with a fitted top, such as I am planning for the SWAP, would also look nice. The only thing that bugs me about full-leg trousers is that I feel they look best with heels (at least on me). I’m not sure why that is – to keep the long line? for a more feminine dimension? In any case, moving out of the comfort zone for experience is one thing, but sometimes we also know through experience what we will feel happy wearing (as Sew2Pro notes).

    • Stephanie

      PS Sorry for the extra comment! I just wanted to note that I do understand that skinny and shape are different things. I was both fatter than the others because I have a healthy appetite, and also curvier/more muscular in shape.

  4. Caroline

    Ooh I think trousers based on your curvy pencil skirt sound really exciting (although possible a little risky if not tried before). But I also like the pink trousers and think you look great in them. Have you ever tried heels with cropped trousers? Might solve the short leg problem, although it is not really a problem.

    • fabrickated

      Ah heels. Yes, this makes a lot of difference to the look. I do experiment with heels, both with with cropped and with longer trousers. But I don’t wearing heels much Caroline, and always see trousers as a more informal look. I will make a trouser pattern based on my curvy pencil skirt and show how to do it in a later post.

  5. mrsmole

    I’d trade shapes with you any time…you look great in those pink pants. Since I spend 90% of my life on the floor, long pants just don’t work but I never think I need to have boy legs and a boy butt to be attractive in pants. My husband (British) says men do not find boyish bodies on women attractive and find them selves looking at women with some meat on their bones…like the butchers in your husband’s diorama…ha ha.

  6. neucarol

    Here’s my two-cents worth. I also have short legs plus long torso. Prefer pants as legs are not best body part. Do prefer natural and/or high waist to make legs appear as long as possible.
    I think tailored trousers, e.g. a designer pattern, would be an excellent choice as they skim the body and hang from the hip rather than cupping the buttock.
    Looking forward to seeing what you make.

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