19th April 2021
Wide leg trousers in history
Why we love wide leg trousers.
Once upon a time women wearing trousers was a thing, as in a thing we didn’t do… In fact, (LKL boss writing this) when I was a secondary school, our uniform was only skirts. Shocking, even more so when the Head Mistress, was, well female & wore trousers herself so obviously saw the benefits to keeping warm & comfortable in the middle of a cold winter (up North I might add!). But then women weren’t allowed to wear trousers on the US Senate floor until 1993, so we really weren’t as progressive back then as we thought!
Maybe this is why I have such a passion for trousers! They really are the thing I have loved designing the most & made the most, from the early days of homemade baggy skate pants in the early 00’s to our range of jeans now.
Turns out trousers have always been a bit of a sassy wardrobe item. Thankfully either expectation has shifted, or we just don’t give a fuck about what society thinks of us these days. Here are some of our favourite time’s wide leg trousers blew people’s mind & looked fantastic!
Wide leg trousers in 1930’s
Beach pyjama’s – One of the first times trousers really struck a cord & stuck around, you can read more about beach pyjama’s in the blog here. This wide-leg pant look featured light flowing fabrics, block & geometric prints, a high waist & was often layered over a swimming costume. 1930’s style wide beach pyjama look has resurfaced over the years, frequently in the summer. We are all for this style! Our in house ‘get the look’ is our Rosie trousers (in blue & black print) with a Tabatha multiway halterneck
Womens Suit – The 1930s was also one of the first times the women’s suit with trousers became recognised, particularly worn by bright young things, or those in the Arts. One of the earliest trouser-suit images is from a 1933 feature in American Vogue, Riviera Days and Nights, featuring Hollywood actress & badass icon Marlene Dietrich in a summer trouser suit. Dietrich is a true badass icon, refusing to appear in Nazi propaganda films, & to meet Adolf Hitler himself. reportedly causes a stir wearing her signature high waisted suit trousers on set at
Our Rosie trousers lend themselves to this style with a smart shirt like our Priscilla, add in a beret a la Marlene below.
Shop the 1930s wide leg trouser look
Wide leg trouser fashions of 1940s
40s land girl style – During the second world war, women working in factories & various jobs which were previously seen as ‘man’s jobs’ had them switching to trousers & jumpsuits for practical reasons. Hair tied back or secured in a bandana, headscarf or turban, and a comfortable pair of high waisted wide leg trousers were far more practical for working heavy machinery.
We love this look & use our Le Wild jeans to re-create the Rosie the Riveter style
Wide leg trousers in 1950s
Until the 1950’s women could still be arrested for wearing trousers, for ‘impersonating a man’. While we see looks for trousers, the norm was for women to wear dresses & skirts. In fact, Dior’s ‘New Look’ was actually a turn back to styles pre-2nd World War. For some, trousers were a reminder of going to do ‘men’s jobs during the war & the return to skirts was preferred.
The general fashion for women’s trousers in the 1950s was a slim cigarette style, think Audrey Hepburn style.
Sock hoppers & Bobby Sockers would wear jeans, with a wider leg, but still not a really wide leg. Our jeans are cut slightly narrower than most of the fashions of the time, but we have elastane now so you can wear skin-tight looks & still move!
Wide leg trouser fashions in 1960s
Palazzo Pants 1960’s – A love of palazzo pants starts! Quite similar to the beach pyjama look of the 30s, the 60s psychedelic influence had lightweight wide-leg trousers, with bright prints on the rise. As a conscious nod to the glamorous look of the 1920s & 1930s beach pyjama & lounge pant looks of the Hollywood stars of the day. During the 1960s some high-end restaurants refused admission to women in trousers. One get around was trousers so full & wide you couldn’t tell if they were a skirt or trousers, this approach helped enthuse the fashion for the more riske & artisan glamourous women at the time.
Wide leg 70s trousers in womens fashion
70s trousers, flares, bell-bottoms and other groovy shit – Flares were not just for hippies & reprobates! Though common history might have you feeling that way. Over the 70s flares went from an alternative item to everyday fashion for teens & children. You might hear flare & bellbottoms in reference to 70s trouser styles. Flares flare out from the top of the let with a fitted waist & hips, bell bottoms are similar but flare out from the knee, sometimes this style is also called kick flares.
Get the look with our Limer 70s inspired trousers, matched with a T or our Jill blouse with wide lapels for a true 70s feel
How do you style wide-leg trousers?
Wide leg trousers are a great versatile addition to your wardrobe especially if you want to bring a vintage inspired vibe to your style.
1 – a scarf tied as a top gives a 30’s beach pj’s look
2 – mix with a loose blouse for a smart outfit for work with a 40’s feel
3 – a halter with flares gives a great 70’s vibe to wide leg pants
4 – Wear with a cropped T or cropped jumper/sweater for a modern casual look