Wide thick-cord pants have been having a comeback this year.
Now, nothing says Geography teacher to me faster than corduroy. But forget the slightly tailored look of front pleats and belted waistband.
Geography teachers – if they still exist – never wore these pants.
You can watch the full 5 minute video of me styling wide corduroy trousers on YouTube here.
Tip: If you can’t see my feet on your phone then click on the rectangular icon at the bottom left of the video to show in full screen.
We’re talking about chunky but soft corduroy, cut wide and straight from the hip to the hem. And joy of joys – the elasticated waist – either the full waistband or just the rear part.
No belt hoops on the ones I bought, so no belt. I bought these locally here in France but they are available from many retailers at the moment. Scroll down to see links to similar pants available online from US and UK retailers – shipping to most countries in local currency. I’ve found great examples both floor-length and ankle grazers.
These are cosy, comfy easy-to-wear pants for cold or milder weather, ideal for winter hibernation when you’re snuggled on the sofa, as well as sunny Spring walks and shopping trips.
In fact I’m wearing mine right now to write this blog.
Perfect pants for casual days
Wide corduroy trousers are one step smarter than jogging bottoms. But they are still super casual. In fact, they are often modelled by young people wearing big, bulky hoodies or padded jackets.
But that look is not for us women well over 50. Yes, we want a casual, athleisure vibe. But no, we don’t want to look like we left our skateboard at home today.
So, I’ve set out to show the dos and don’ts of styling soft, casual pull-on corduroy pants in 2023 for older women like us.
The right length for these wide pants
When I purchased these cords they drowned me. I felt embarrassed coming out of the changing room to look in the large mirror.
I always have to rehem pants but these looked far, far too long. That’s because they are aimed at young people wanting a street-wise vibe. They are meant to puddle around your ankles and graze along the floor.
But they were so comfortable to wear I decided to buy them, hem them and see if I could style them to suit me at over 70.
I decided to make them shorter than most of my other trousers. I knew I wouldn’t wear them much if the hems got dirty after every outing. Plus, there’s a lot of texture on jumbo cord, so I didn’t feel I needed to add more texture with folds around my shoes.
Here’s what I felt looked right at my age and at my size. I’m 62 inches tall and in these pics about 145lbs.
Which tops to wear with wide cord trousers
Now, if you are tall and slim, you can wear a fitted tee, or a semi-fitted sweater, and look great. This is the triangle silhouette where you are narrow on top and wider below.
But for the remaining 90% of us who are either short and/or heavier than we’d like to be, anything fitted on top is going to look awful!
Here are two examples of styling the wrong top. The shirt is fine except that the rounded hem emphasizes my hips which makes the outfit look bad. The striped tee cannot be front-tucked at the waist because it shortens the upper body and makes the pants look enormous.
I usually urge you to wear an inverted triangle silhouette – slimmer trousers, bigger top. But these pants are so wide, it makes the inverted triangle near enough impossible.
So you want to style yourself as a rectangle.
That means you are going to balance the width of the trousers with the width of the top.
The type of shirts that work well with wide pants
Boyfriend, over-sized shirts can work well. Wear the shirt fully or partially buttoned or wear it over a tee shirt. The tee shirt can be wide-cut, waisted or fitted. No-one will notice.
Any shirt that has a good shoulder line and hangs straight down without any darts for the waist will look good.
You are looking to get the all-over big silhouette.
We usually try to minimize the width of our silhouette if we’re heavy or square. But this is a slouchy casual athleisure look so don’t fight it.
In fact if you try to make these wide trousers look narrower, you will mess up the look completely. Wear the width like you mean it. Stick your hands in your pockets to spread the hips even wider.
Do jackets look good with these trousers?
No. You’re too old to do the skateboard hoodie look and the padded jacket will make you look like a deflating balloon left after your grandkid’s party.
If you’re outside without a coat, you could wear a big, thick, longer cardigan (only tie the belt if you are fabulously tall and slender.) Or a chunky poncho that falls to the top of the thigh – in the front but also at the sides.
Which sweater to select over thick wide pants
Jumpers look good with wide pants. Just make sure they are slightly oversized.
A turtle neck which lies tight to the neck is too slim. Leave the roll neck to crumple around your neck, or wear a cowl neck or a mock neck sweater. The extra height of these sweaters is great. But you don’t want to emphasise your neck as being very slim, if your middle or hips are wide.
To big up your top, push up the sleeves quite high. Wear a scarf perhaps to emphasise the width of your shoulders.
Do layers look right with jumbo cord pants?
Yes. Slightly over-sized sleeveless knits, sweater vests, have been in fashion for a year or so now. If you have one, pop it on over any sweater or shirt. Instant big top.
What length of top looks good with wide corduroy pants?
Now, if you follow these posts, you’ll know I like to camouflage my big waist by adding the half-tuck to the front of most tops, then showing a belt buckle to mark just the centre of my waist. I rarely suggest wearing a tee shirt straight down over jeans, for example.
But this is a very different look.
Wear straight tops that come to the top of the thigh. The rectangle of your silhouette is then cut 50/50 between your top and your pants. Your hips won’t look big because the width of the whole look is the same.
That said, these wide pants need to be able to fit with ease over your tummy and hips. Unlike jeans where a bit of stretching and pulling is fine, these thick cord trousers need to hang, not caress. So buy a larger size perhaps – I did!
Beware of a shoe that makes your foot look small. Rather like that high turtle neck that makes your neck slim, a small shoe will look silly and out of proportion. Remember this is a cool sporty-meets-street style. Wear sneakers. Wear loafers. In warmer weather pop on last year’s footbed sandals with the broad straps across.
Of course, ankle or knee-high boots will easily slip on under these pants. As long as they’re not too smart or have pointy toes, they’ll look fine.
I tried on my navy cords with dark loafers and slightly lighter-weight tops. Then I put on my trainers for a slightly heavier look.
What style of coat looks best with these wide trousers?
You can wear most coats with these cord pants. If you stick with one color for top to pants, your coat, whatever color it is, will look great. Just don’t smarten up the look too much. A scarf is fine. A gold-chain handbag is less fine. To carry off this look with heels, even chunky heels, you need to be under 50.
The images above lead mainly to USA sites, apart from Cos which is global.
If you live in the UK I would definitely recommend taking a look at M&S’ s pull-on cord pants here.
So that’s it. Your new weekend cool.
An easy-to-wear current fashion that just needs a little style sense to make it ideal for us older women. And thank-you, thank-you, to the trend setters for bringing the elastic waist back for warm pants.
If you enjoyed this try-on article, take a look at some other styles I try on:
Winter Capsule Wardrobe Try-on 2022
Finding it difficult to thin out your closet from a life’s worth of clothes to a useful set of seasonal outfits?
I wrote The Mature Style Course just for you!
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Joni, what a treat to see one of your posts today. I so enjoy reading them . You’ve been a great inspiration and I definitely make wiser purchases.
I love the wider pants (and elastic waists). Today’s post will help me resurrect a corduroy pair I bought over a year ago, that I couldn’t make make look right! Now I know.
YES, please to the videos…. off to watch the latest one now
Best wishes to you.
Hi Eleanor. So pleased you’ve been ‘inspired’ to take a second look at those pants. That’s what my blog’s about really – making the most stylish you from what you have, whether that’s flat hair or elasticated cord pants!! Joni x
Me and my husband both got a chuckle from your “leaving the skateboard at home today” remark lol I just starting following your blog and am enjoying seeing your style and of course the wit! Have a blessed week-end from Alabama:)
Hi Carol from Alabama. Great to hear from you. Lots of stuff wrong with socail media but lots and lots of stuff right – including being able to chat all the way from the South of France to the United States! Joni x
I have 2 pairs of wide legged, elastic waisted linen pants. We would call them “flood pants” in Canada, a term that started in the 1970’s when long pants were the norm and if your pants didn’t drag on the ground, you must be preparing for a flood! Although my pants aren’t corduroy, they have that loose, baggy look, with wide bottoms. I love my pants but have always struggled with how to style them. I would follow your adage: the fuller the bottom, the tighter/shorter the top, but you are absolutely right. That looks terrible! I would have NEVER thought to make a rectangle shape, but the look is just perfect. I liked all the looks, but especially the one with the boots and puffer coat. Those boots are very daring, but you’ve pulled it off. Not sure I’d ever wear wide legged cords, but the styling tips are good for any type of wide, shorter length pants.
Hi Jan. That’s great that you’ve decided to look again at your wide linen pants. Haha flood pants – I’ve never heard that term. As most of my readers live in North America I try to use any American spellings and terms that I know but even using the word ‘pants’ for me is difficult. For a Brit pants are undergarments, so writing about older women showing off their big wide pants conjures up quite the wrong picture in my head!! Joni x
Navy is a favorite of mine, much better on me than black. I think I worry too much about my navies matching but you’ve shown us that you can indeed wear different shades together. Thank you Joni!
Hi Barb. Yes I used to worry about the same thing. But today rules are so much more fluid, thank goodness. So I see retailers showing different navies in the same outfit, girls wearing pretty frocks and clumpy boots, and who wears matching shoes and bag nowadays except as a retro look? Different whites are really the only combination that I find look a bit ‘tacky’. Joni x