Show them who wears the trousers

By Jan Shure, October 8, 2009
Hi-sheen peg-top trousers, £34.99; waistcoat, £24; cropped tux, £34.99; cap, £24.99; and cutaway boots, £85. All at River Island

Hi-sheen peg-top trousers, £34.99; waistcoat, £24; cropped tux, £34.99; cap, £24.99; and cutaway boots, £85. All at River Island

Fashion is having a definite trouser moment right now. We may all still be wearing sassy pencil skirts or short skirt-plus-leggings/dress-plus-leggings combos but, trust me, as winter rolls in, trousers will suddenly seem magnetically, irresistibly and rivetingly new. And even if you can resist their allure this season, there is absolutely no doubt that by next spring you will be forced to face up to the challenge of finding the right pair.

And whereas last winter there were just a few trouser options — wide-leg, skinny or cropped (with the occasional sub-category, like straight cropped or wide cropped), this season (and next) there are a whole lot more shapes to confuse and confound us: skinny, wide, cropped, carrot-top (aka peg-top), jodhpur, harem, high-waist, leggings, treggings… And all of them require rigorous thought about what we team with them and how we accessorise them…

Skinny trousers are a no-brainer for those with slim hips and thighs. Wear them any way you like — with a cropped jacket, boyfriend jacket, a short trophy jacket, a cropped fake-fur or marabou jacket. If you are not so streamlined, you can still make skinny trousers work: always team them with a longer top half — a boyfriend jacket or long blazer, long chunky knit cardi or sweater, or a boyfriend cardi. Wear statement shoes or ankle boots with the highest heels you can bear.

Where to find them: High-shine skinny trousers, £38, Topshop; skinny trousers with zips, £38, Next; skinny trousers with zips, £155, Acne (; black-and-white tie-dye skinny trousers Felder Felder, £380 (

Wide-leg trousers have become a wardrobe classic. In the right proportion, they work for almost everyone, though “in the right proportion” is key to getting the look right. It would be helpful if there was a formula that correlated the width of the hem with the wearer’s hip size and height. But in the absence of a formula, take a long, hard look in the mirror before buying. If they make you look square, they are too wide; try another pair. Anything long and wide worn over wide-leg trousers will make you look wide all the way down, so always wear them with a narrow-cut top or shirt, or with a narrow-cut or nipped-waist blazer or jacket. Unless you are very tall, added height is essential. Wear the highest heels you can walk in …

Where to find them: Wide leg trousers, £30, Marisota (; LPBG high-waist, wool, £435 (; High- waist, belted trousers, £35 Marks & Spencer.

Leggings and treggings are in a similar category, in terms of benefits and drawbacks, to skinny trousers. Skinny girls can wear them any way they like. The less skinny can still look fabulous with a boyfriend jacket, long blazer or a chunky knit to mid-thigh. Again, towering ankle boots or strappy shoes are vital.

Where to find them: For plain leggings, it is hard to beat Primark’s Light Control Leggings at £4 a pair. Or try M&S Limited Collection shiny leggings £15. LNA ripped detail leggings £80 (; Dorothy Perkins leopard print, £22.

Harem trousers are the shape we are least likely to embrace with enthusiasm. They definitely hint at adult nappies, and I suspect most of us will steer clear for winter. But well cut ones look fabulous with a skinny black vest. And by next spring I have a hunch we will embrace them for summer hols and weekends.

Where to find them: Black, cropped harem pants by Vince, £230 (; George at Asda harem trousers, £45; Privet Harem Pants, All Saints, £85.

Black skinny PU trousers, £45, embellished jacket, £75, both Wallis

Black skinny PU trousers, £45, embellished jacket, £75, both Wallis

Cropped trousers have a bit of a PR battle on their hands thanks to their association with the pastel “cropped” trousers of recent summers. Now, ankle-skimming trousers are the coolest thing on planet fashion so, forget “cropped” and think “ankle skimming”; think Marni, Dries van Noten…

Where to find them: Pleat front trousers, Dries van Noten, £365 (; taupe cropped trousers, £49.50, M&S Autograph; black cropped trousers, £55, Miss Selfridge.

Carrot or peg trousers are the ones we have mentally foresworn, and yet by November we will all be trying them on in Browns/Topshop/Primark (select shop in your price range), looking in the mirror and uttering that deathless line, “does my bum look big in these?” Providing you choose a well-cut pair, and work the look carefully, they are the coolest, most on-trend trouser look for this season.

Where to find them: Black silk by Balmain, £1,205 (; flannel pleat front, Yves St Laurent, £615 (; High sheen, £34.99, River Island; black peg top trousers, £110 Hobbs.

Last updated: 9:42am, November 2 2009