Wearing the trousers with style

Trousers used to be strictly nine to five, but now they can be the star of the show

Above, left to right: Above, bandeau bikini top (€7), joggers (€17), bag (€9), sandals (€13), rings (€5), bracelets (€5), all at Penneys; blazer (€69), tapered trousers (€41), check blouse (€33), sandals (€43), all at Next; geo-print wide-legged trousers (£40), at Asos.com

For a long time (sartorially speaking, “a long time” can mean four fashion seasons, which is the equivalent of six months in real time), women’s trousers were workwear, plain and simple. They usually came with a jacket and were worn to the office and nowhere else. Our leisuretime wardrobes consisted of dresses, jeans, tops and the occasional skirt, with trousers relegated to the back of the pile, for nine-to-fivers only.

Then something shifted in fashion, and "the trouser" came back in with a bang. Some blame Alexander Wang, the man responsible for bringing a new level of glamour to the jogging bottom; for others, it was Céline's Phoebe Philo and her mannish, minimalist separates.

Whoever lit the match though, the flame burned all over, from Prada to Dior, from Topshop to Penneys, and suddenly, trousers were everywhere. Patterned or plain, peg-legged or cropped, flared or cuffed, it didn't matter – we were all wearing them.

Above, left to right: top (€155) and trousers (€120), by Jaeger at Arnotts; jacket (€86), trousers (€50), shoes (€49) by Principles by Ben de Lisi at Debenhams; grey marl jumper (€98), trousers (€116), neon clutch (€119), all Pied a Terre at House of Fraser
Left to right: blouse (€35), trousers (€40), jacket (€60), by Gallery at Dunnes; coat (€115), top (€17), trousers (€75), shoes (€35), at Marks & Spencer; yellow broderie trousers (£175) by Unique at topshop.com

Today’s trousers have moved on from the suit pants of yore. Rather than having stiff, tight waistbands, modern trousers are relaxed, with elasticated waists and hems, slouchy pockets and even slouchier crotches.


These new, relaxed styles have democratised the style. Previously, trousers were often avoided because they were restrictive and unyielding. As unforgiving as a white sheer dress, they were incapable of overlooking even the tiniest of indiscretions: those extra few pounds after Christmas, for example, or the fact that all but the least flattering of knickers were in the wash. Today, there is a trouser for everyone. Patterned pants skim over lumps and bumps; loose waists forgive multitudes; dropped crotches are more flattering; and wide legs give the illusion of length.

They say the savvy shopper should have two pairs of trousers in her wardrobe: the cigarette pant, with a mid-rise and narrow leg, and a looser pair for weekends, in a bright colour or with a bright pattern. For my part, I think she should have several.

For the first time since Coco Chanel, women can wear the trousers and feel fabulous while doing so; where's the fun in exercising restraint?