Collage of nine women wearing cropped wide leg jeans featured by popular DC petite fashion blogger, Wardrobe Oxygen

Ask Allie: Cropped Wide Leg Jeans

Fashion Advice

Question: could you do a post about styling the trendy cropped wide leg jeans? I have a pair in black like this that I scored at a thrift store, but I am 5'4″ and have curves and in my 30s.

Collage of nine women wearing cropped wide leg jeans featured by popular DC petite fashion blogger, Wardrobe OxygenI'm going to give you some advice that you likely don't want. But I see you readers as my friends and this is what I would tell a friend.

Hardly anyone looks good in cropped wide leg jeans. This is part of the trend that has been happening for the past decade where designers make traditionally unflattering clothes to evoke a feeling of I could care less, I'm so chic I can make a paper bag look stylish. Cropped wide leg jeans are always modeled on very slender tall women, often with a pair of aviator-frame glasses, a fitted tee with a witty saying in French, and a pair of $400 sneakers or $400 clog-style sandals. Even those tall slender women wearing those yellow-tinted aviators and foregoing a shower for dry shampoo would likely look better in a pair of classic Levi's 501s.

About a decade ago, I owned similar jeans. I got them from Gap, at the time they were called gauchos. I freaking loved those cropped wide leg jeans. I'd style them with a tube top or fitted tank, a funky necklace… and then wish I could go barefoot. Once I put shoes on my 5'3″ curvy frame I looked squat, thick, and dumpy. Go through my blog's archives and you'll see I either wore them with flip flops or with stiletto heels. Both looked lame, but they looked better than anything else. And I tried. Lord, I tried. I must have bought five different pairs of shoes to try to make them work with these gauchos.

I ended up cutting off my gauchos and turned them into shorts which went to many a music festival with me. When the trend returned a couple years ago I regretted cutting off my gauchos… for a hot second. And then I was glad I did it so I didn't have to try to force a trend to work on me.

Some things are just not easy to wear. It's not you, it's the clothes. If you have to work hard to make an item in your closet work, it doesn't deserve to be in there. No garment deserves so much attention and stress to work. Our lives are busy and stressful enough, our closets shouldn't add to it.

Collage of nine women wearing cropped wide leg jeans featured by popular DC petite fashion blogger, Wardrobe Oxygen
A few ideas on how to wear cropped wide leg jeans if they fit with your figure and personal style.

Sure you could wear these cropped wide leg jeans with some low-profile trendy sneakers or a pointed-toe flat or a pair of nude or soft metallic sandals that aren't too bulky. On top you can wear a fitted tee with a witty saying in French or any language, or a spaghetti strap silky cami tucked in with a scarf in your belt loops, or a slouchy off the shoulder knit top found at Anthropologie that can showcase your multiple delicate gold necklaces. But if you're writing to me to figure out how to make these cropped wide leg jeans work I am guessing it's because you either don't have these items in your closet or you do and you tried and it still doesn't look quite right.

It's not you, it's the clothes.

It's not you, it's the clothes.

Let me say it again because with popular trends and brands and Instagram you may not fully believe it. But it's true. It's not you, it's the clothes.

Your email is a good reminder to everyone, myself included that we are square pegs and a lot of fashion is round holes. We try to shove ourselves into those round holes with compression garments, uncomfortable shoes, and over-shopping thinking there's that perfect something that will make us suddenly chic. Style comes from within you, not within your closet. You are fabulous just the way you are. You deserve clothing that doesn't require so much effort and so little payback.

And once again for those in the back… it's not you, it's the clothes.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  • Nicole March 29, 2018

    Love your response! It *is* the clothes.

    Growing up my mom, sister and I would shop together, and Mom always had the same response when something we tried on didn’t look right: “That does nothing for you.” She had it right — clothes are supposed to do something for you, not the other way around. Blame the clothes.

    A while back I went to a store where the salespeople help style you. The salesperson had me trying on pants — lots and lots of pants. None of them were flattering. The salesperson’s explanation: “You have athletic thighs.” Um, what?!? How did my legs become part of this conversation? The pants did nothing for me. Blame them — and kindly keep your thoughts about my thighs and their shape to yourself.

    Needless to say, I haven’t gone back to the store for any more “help.” I shop their online site only because I got a great striped sweater there that I love. (Since, I know you’re looking, here’s another striped top I wear all the time. The sleeves are cute, the fabric nice enough for under blazers at work and the neckline is just right: https://www.macys.com/shop/product/vince-camuto-drawstring-sleeve-top?ID=5507884)

    • Alison Gary March 29, 2018

      Oh my goodness Nicole I love everything about this comment! Your mom is awesome, and the top you shared is super cute!

  • RoseAG March 11, 2018

    I’m a little disappointed in your reaction to this. Just because it’s not a look that you like doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering.

    I don’t care for skinny jeans, I don’t think they do anything for my curvy figure besides make my thighs look big. My figure is such that I really need to wear a belt with pants and that adds bulk under the long tops that often go with skinny jeans.

    High-waisted wider legged pants flatter me as they accentuate my waist and fall straight over my thighs. I’m under 5’5″ so cropped styles come down past the widest part of my calf, and leave my trim ankle exposed. I think they look good with deep cleavage shoes or open sandals. If you want to wear laced up sneakers with cropped jeans I think it’s better to go with mini-flares. I my high waisted wide legged pants with a short fitted top and/or jacket that hits no longer than high hip. While I have muscular thighs I don’t have a draping apron across the tummy and the flat front of the pants looks good.

    The downside of them, at least for me, is that they’re a pant that really needs warm weather. I don’t like them with socks or boots, so with a bulky top. So they aren’t a 3 season item and probably don’t belong in minimalist closets.

    • Alison Gary March 12, 2018

      It sounds as though you know how to style this look and that is fantastic! My post is for those who struggle to make a trend work for them. If you have to work at a look, it may not be the best choice. Life’s too short to work so hard to make clothes work. On the opposite, life’s too short to not wear what you love so rock those pants I bet you look fabulous!

  • Pam March 8, 2018

    I love anything with wide legs! I think they especally work if you’re like me with a waist one size smaller than your hips and generally not great legs. My vote for shoes is a substantial looking wedge. I’m 5’9″ so that works in my favor for this look too.

    • Alison Gary March 8, 2018

      I fully agree this look can be amazing on some people! I think a wedge can look great and provide comfortable lift.

  • Anna March 8, 2018

    After reading Allie’s advice and all the comments, I went to the original poster’s link to see her pants and found this banner ad:

    “The most flattering pant you’ll ever try”

    Oh, so funny!

  • Luc March 7, 2018

    I love this so much!!!
    I haven’t even been bothered to try this trend, because I just know how much work it will be. I haven’t got time for that! I want clothes that look good with minimum fuss at the shops or afterwards. At 5 foot, these are going to be hard work and frankly they don’t even look that comfortable…

  • Lisa Marie March 7, 2018

    I’ve got a slightly different perspective…at 5’9.5 and self consciously slightly knock kneed, they make me feel tall and elegant and perfect. I love them!!!

    • Alison Gary March 8, 2018

      And I love that! Rock them my friend I think that’s fantastic!

  • Alison March 7, 2018

    Hallelujah!! I was just online browsing today and thinking to myself that so many of these silhouettes are just playing around with weird angles to add to tall, slim frames.

  • Katie K March 7, 2018

    I also had a pair of wide legged cropped pants 10 years ago! They were khaki and I bought them from the Gap. And I too wore them with a tube top and a chunky necklace! And they did terrible things for my belly and my thighs. They looked awful. Never again.

  • Sue March 7, 2018

    Amen!

  • Chris March 7, 2018

    Thanks so much Allie! I don’t think those stupid pants even look good on the tall, thin models. The pants just have a ridiculous silhouette. OK, so if one’s intention is to be funny and make people laugh, why not go all out? Wear full clown make-up, costume, shoes. That way, there will be no doubt that one intentionally is looking silly.

    • Alison Gary March 8, 2018

      I think they can look pretty elegant on some figures and personal styles. But on me, it would look like party of a clown costume!

  • Jen March 7, 2018

    I want to look good in wide legged crops! I’ve tried a pair and ended up returning them. I kept eyeing a pair online at Nordstrom (Ashley Graham) and yet I know that they won’t work for me! I’m 5’10 and I think the only way they look decent is if you wear a good heel with them and my knees/hips don’t like that much these days. 🙁

    • Alison Gary March 8, 2018

      In the summer, they’re great with a delicate sandal. Skin tone, a soft metallic, something that doesn’t add bulk to the foot. That may work…

  • Jessica March 7, 2018

    AMEN, SISTER ALLIE. PREACH!

  • Mariya March 7, 2018

    Yes!!! Thank you for your honesty! 🙂

  • Laurel March 7, 2018

    Thank you for your honesty! And the reality you articulated about models vs most bodies. There are SO many trends that are in this category. We have a family friend named Barbara who is built like those models. Every time my DH suggests I try something on that he sees in a catalog, I have to check and then often say, Sorry, that’s a Barbara outfit. Luckily, he has finally picked up on it and can now notice it himself. Progress.

    And just NO to those pants. I, too, wore them as gauchos back when I was younger and thinner. And they still weren’t flattering. 😉

  • Amanda March 7, 2018

    Allie,
    Thanks for your perspective. It is so refreshing to have a fashion blogger give permission to just pass on a [ridiculous] trend. This is why I’ve kept up with your blog for so long. <3

  • Jennifer March 7, 2018

    Thank you for your candor. I keep being tempted by the way they look on the models but then I remember that I’m six inches shorter and probably fifty pounds heavier.

  • Michelle March 7, 2018

    Love this post. I have a favorite pair of wide-legged PJ pants, and when I saw they had come out with the same ones in a cropped style, I was excited because I thought I could continue to wear my faves in warm weather and snapped them up. However, I cannot even bring myself to wear wide-legged cropped PAJAMAS IN MY HOUSE, they look so terrible. Just the freaking WORST.

  • Alex March 7, 2018

    This is an AWESOME post. Thank you for the clear-sighted pragmatism.

    It’s not us. It’s the clothes. <3

  • DWJ March 7, 2018

    I’m glad you were honest. LOL I too am 5 ft 4 and it’s a hard style to pull off.

  • Christine March 7, 2018

    Thank you for your honesty! With your permission, I’m shopping for some 501s.

  • patval March 7, 2018

    Hi, I agree with you. I tried some on in Talbots. The ladies working there told me not to buy them. They said if we, the consumers, don’t buy the trend it will go away. they had the same opinion you do. These are not flattering. I too passed on these.

    • Jennifer March 7, 2018

      I want to give them a round of applause!

      • Laurel March 7, 2018

        Yes! Yay for your honest Talbots team.

    • Alison Gary March 8, 2018

      I love honest salespeople!

  • Ramona March 7, 2018

    THANK YOU! As always, but especially with this post, your honesty is like that fresh breeze that we sometimes need to clear away the cob webs. This post, when paired with all your interesting thoughts on fashion, beauty, etc, is why I keep coming back.

  • Giuditta March 7, 2018

    You tell it, Allie! This type of give-it-to-us-straight advice is the reason you have such great credibility. I actually read the initial reader’s question and said, “Hmm. I’ 5’3″ and curvy, too; I should read this in case I get a pair of wide-legged cropped pants this summer.” Yeah, no, won’t be doing that because Allison said “no way!”

    • Alison Gary March 8, 2018

      LOL I’ll admit I did start thinking how to style them but it was so hard for me it inspired me to write this kind of post instead. Even I get caught up in trends!

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