Taking it Easy: Looser, Billowy Trouser Silhouettes for the New Season

Over the past few seasons, the fashion world has shifted away from the more body-conscious silhouettes of seasons past, replacing them with directional looks that play with volume and proportion.

Though it couldn’t be said that form-fitting silhouettes are not still going strong (a quick look around your local fashion retailer or favourite street style fashion blog will soon confirm this point), the past few fashion cycles have definitively shown us that there appears to be a change in the direction of things to come.

Designers have been playing with volume, and in doing so have created fresher, more directional pieces that offer a new perspective on how modern women want to dress. This shift in volume is no more evident anywhere than it is in the design of the new trousers.

It is true that styles like the skinny jean and the cropped cigarette pant are still everywhere you look, and will likely be here to stay. Yet more and more, it is the newer, looser shapes that are creeping into our collective consciousness, as well as into our closets. With the emergence of these new shapes come new possibilities, and ultimately more options for fashionistas of all ages, shapes, and sizes.

Looser, wide-legged, or baggy trousers, much like their skinny-legged counterparts, come with their own set of challenges. As with a slimmer pant, there are certain styles that look good on some, but perhaps less so on others. However, there are two loose trouser varieties that, when styled correctly, seem to work surprisingly well for just about everyone. These styles are the high-waisted trouser, and the culotte.

Two Perfect Loose Trouser Options: Styling Your Perfect Match


The looser, billowing, more voluminous style of a high-waisted, full-legged trouser makes an appearance every so often in the fashion world, and for good reason; it is a classic. Whether you are looking to channel Katherine Hepburn’s backstage borrowed-from-the-boys sporty glamour, or sport a featherweight silk harem pant worthy of a night out at Studio 54, there is a high-waisted trouser variety that works on just about everyone. No matter what style you might decide on, there is one styling tip that holds true across the continuum of looser trouser styles; the importance of a defined waist.

Traditionally, those who follow fashion were always taught that if you are wearing a baggier, more voluminous skirt or trouser, you should ultimately pair it with a smaller, more form-fitting top. Although generally speaking this age-old advice still holds merit, the modern structural influences of current runway trends now have us pairing volume with volume. Examples of this trend can be seen all over the runways, as with Edun’s Fall 2014 show, which paired avant garde pieces like chunky, asymmetrical knits with a pair of oversized, wide-legged trousers.

Although this may seem like a blatant attempt at turning some age-old styling rules inside-out, what is actually happening with this new direction is simply a fresh viewpoint. Instead of creating a very literal waistline by exposing the waistband and pairing a looser, billowing trouser with a form-fitting top, designers are simply creating the illusion of a waistline with clever cuts and strategic layering. An asymmetrical top may draw the eye to the natural waist, or a cropped chunky knit layered over a longer, silk shirt provides just enough break in the silhouette to balance a fuller, baggier trouser leg.

Evidence of this clever employment of pairing volume with volume can also be seen with another of the newer, more voluminous trouser styles; the culotte. The cropped, sometimes bell-shaped silhouette of the culotte is certainly not new in the fashion world. Cropped culottes were a huge trend during the recent spring 2014 shows (at Proenza Schouler and Burberry, to name a few) and despite the fact that for many, they may conjure memories of school days from a less than desirable sartorial age, they appear to be making a comeback.

Looser, Billowy Trousers On The Spring Runways


As with the billowing, high-waisted trousers seen on the fall runways, the new spring culottes are being shown both in structural and billowing fabrications, and are being shown with tops that are equally either architectural, or billowing and voluminous. Again, the secret to success is in the creation of a waistline. High-waisted, full culottes are being paired with voluminous, yet cropped tops, peplums, and nipped-in jackets, all which draw the eye inward and create a waistline in an otherwise loose and easy silhouette.

With both the loose, high-waisted trouser and the cropped culotte, we can see that this directional shift in fashion is not only a refreshing change from the more body-conscious styles of seasons past, but a trend towards dressing in a more architectural way. The popularity of these styles has already proven itself by appearing frequently on the fashion pack and in more recent street style blogs, and these looser, yet structured styles will likely be the shape of things to come.

About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog highlandfashionista.com

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