Cutting loose: Three ways to style slouchy trousers

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper


The emergence of baggier cuts across the womenswear department has been well received around these parts. For me, trousers are always tricky. I have a long body, so pants tend to be too short in the rise. This, as well as being incredibly uncomfortable, is a major bugbear. I do not want to spend my life hoicking denim from between my buttocks (what one of my friends calls ‘chewing cloth’). I am particularly fussy about the fit of clothes around key aggravation points – the crotch on trousers, armpits on a jacket – and can’t bear anything too tight in an area that requires ease of movement. Much better to let loose in roomier styles. That’s not to say I’m turning into a total slouch, I still want an elegant, put-together silhouette.

What started in lockdown with pyjamas and joggers and getting half-dressed, led to the rise in popularity of elasticated waistbands, dropped crotches and generously cut trousers. I’m enjoying this slouchier shape, it’s easy to wear and versatile. Not only comfortable, but incredibly flattering, too. I’m delighted that baggy isn’t budging.


Photo: Sarah Brick


Balloon, barrel, tapered, Bowie pants  – the fashion terminology used to describe baggy trousers conjures up an array of voluminous forms. The perfect pair of slouchy trousers fit high on the waist, feature gentle front pleats and taper towards the ankle. Fabric is important. Choose a material that drapes well to avoid looking like Sam Smith at the Brits. For a fluid feel, the Relaxed Tapered Turn-Up from Me+Em is a cracking, go-everywhere option. In the other photos I’m wearing Balloon Pants from Kin at John Lewis; I have a couple of pairs, one in camel and one in off-white. They are made from a cotton drill fabric and so have a sturdier feel but the shape works well and can be mixed and matched with a slinky, silk blouse and classic blazer.

Admittedly, I do tend to go for a less voluminous top half when I’m going ‘Bowie’ on the bottom. Opting for streamlined or tailored jackets and tops, knitwear tucked in for definition. By unbuttoning the cardigan in the outfit (top) I’ve used my belt as an anchor to break up the silhouette. If you’re not keen on having your middle on show, try a half-tucked shirt or lightweight knit for a similar effect. I like to wear my slouchy trousers with a striped Breton (the one above is from Seasalt, available HERE), roll-neck jersey top or simple T-shirt, then layer a boxy cardigan or knitted waistcoat over the top. Jackets and cardigans that end at the waist show off baggy trousers the best, but a beautiful blazer is always a good idea.


Photo: Claire Pepper


Of course, the correct proportions will depend on what suits your body shape and mood. If you feel swathed in fabric, give the trousers a shapelier finish by cuffing the ankle to add a gentle taper to the lower leg, or by nipping everything in with a belt.

I’ve found that this capacious new silhouette can take chunkier footwear, lug-soled boots and high-top sneakers work well. Or for a more slimline shape try low-heeled ankle boots. When spring has sprung, a leather loafer or pointy flat and a flash of ankle creates another winning combination.

See Diane Keaton for further inspiration.




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  The emergence of baggier cuts across the womenswear department has been well received around these parts. For me, trousers are always tricky.