Ready To Wear: A lesson in how to wear palazzo pants without stilts


The trouser shape of the season is the palazzo – so wide legged it might reasonably be described as billowy and so long the best way to wear it is possibly on stilts.

This is an unusually grand fashion statement – the clue's in the name, suggestive of a languid and willowy aristocrat swanning around a crumbling Renaissance castle in the 1930s.

This, then, is the absolute antithesis of the low-slung, skinny silhouette that continues to dominate at street level, at least.

While a high waist and wide leg might seem difficult at first sight, it is only our lack of familiarity with it that makes it so. Narrow trousers, borrowed from menswear and best worn by the snake-hipped because of that, are far more distorting when worn by a woman – hence muffin tops, visible underwear and constantly having to pull one's trousers up. None of these is chic.

Conversely, and perhaps unsurprisingly, on the catwalk wide-legged trousers look like they were made for easy living. Haider Ackermann's satin palazzo pants are reminiscent of nothing more than the most luxurious pyjamas and are designed to be worn with kimono jackets cinched tightly at the waist.

At Céline (pictured), Phoebe Philo teams her wide-legged trousers with everything from moulded leather vests to oversized men's dress shirts, laying to rest the theory that a roomy cut on the bottom half necessitates a narrow one on the top.

Crisp, white cotton palazzo pants with a tie waist are worn with a sheer chiffon shirt and ivory tailored jacket whispering of vintage Yves Saint Laurent with a sporty makeover at Dries van Noten.

Marc Jacobs's sugar-pink, wide-legged (and leggy) silk trouser suit is quite the prettiest homage to the Seventies imaginable – think of Bianca Jagger, only drenched in sugar and spice.

In fact, the challenge here is not at the hips but at the hemline. But for anyone lucky enough to have legs like a fashion illustration, this might not be an issue.

The rest of us will almost certainly find they have to alter their new purchase before wearing it, losing a good few inches from the leg. Cut palazzo pants too short and Katherine Hepburn becomes Coco the Clown. Your trousers should graze the floor even when worn over the highest heel in your wardrobe.