Wide trousers

From zoot suits to Fifties pegs, vintage cuts are inspiration for trousers that speak volumes, says Tom Stubbs

Canali linen/silk trousers, £370
Canali linen/silk trousers, £370

“There’s something decadent about a wide‑legged trouser,” says artist, actor and style icon Christos Tolera, of cult 1980s Latin-funk band Blue Rondo à la Turk. “When it comes to refined cloth, more is better.” Tolera cites Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire as inspirations, though his style references span several decades, from wide-from-the-waist-down 1920s cuts via ultra-baggy zoot suits to gently tapering 1950s pegs. Now these styles are appearing in contemporary mainline collections.

Craig Green denim trousers, £378, through Matchesfashion.com
Craig Green denim trousers, £378, through Matchesfashion.com
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There’s a handsome 1920s‑ influenced Oxford trouser (from £465) among the 12 house styles at Anderson & Sheppard’s haberdashery that can be made up in various fabrics, as well as a flattering double-pleat style (from £385) with belt loops that looks particularly good in houndstooth, and the brace back (£365), which drapes impeccably with lots of volume through the thigh. Wear with a fitted T-shirt and open white shirt for a debonair look.

Giorgio Armani wool trousers, £820
Giorgio Armani wool trousers, £820
Caruso cotton trousers, £140
Caruso cotton trousers, £140

At Armani, I’m keen on an exceptionally well cut double-pleated sage wool pair (£820). Those in grey cashmere/wool (£650), multicoloured chevron wool (£600) and grey linen/silk (£770) with cuffed bottoms are also very appealing.

E Tautz cotton Field trousers, £230
E Tautz cotton Field trousers, £230
Office Générale denim trousers, £175
Office Générale denim trousers, £175

Caruso’s retro-accented collection includes striking pleated wide trousers (£140) in ivory or camel cotton and clever reworkings of 1920s styles in fawn linen (£340) that drape beautifully and team well with a crisp white shirt and cream blazer – evoking White Mischief or Death in Venice. Another pleated pair (£150) in ivory cotton/linen with a slight sheen has a generous turn-up and looks brilliant with white plimsolls and a blazer.

Lanvin wool-crepe trousers, £497, through Matchesfashion.com
Lanvin wool-crepe trousers, £497, through Matchesfashion.com
Margaret Howell cotton-drill trousers, £195
Margaret Howell cotton-drill trousers, £195

Plimsolls and “widies” are a strong look – one Patrick Grant, creative director of E Tautz, often sports. “Recently we’ve sold five times as many men’s wide-legged trousers as slim,” he says. The brand has been championing wide trousers for some time – its classic cotton Field trousers come in khaki, denim, navy and army green. “A wider trouser – tapered or straight – gives the impression of height and slimness, as opposed to skinny trousers that can make normal-weight men look fat,” asserts Grant. A slight curve to E Tautz trousers makes them jut out fractionally at the sides, giving them extra volume; worn high with a simple belt they have a vintage wholesomeness. Look at versions in smart Prince of Wales check or charcoal wool (£395).

Anderson & Sheppard corduroy trousers, £365
Anderson & Sheppard corduroy trousers, £365
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Margaret Howell’s pleated wide trousers (a label staple) have a similar no-fuss, clean-lined and comfortable nonchalance. I like those in navy, deep indigo or khaki cotton drill (£195) that taper into a gentle 1950s peg. At Canali, styles with upper-leg volume include deftly cut one-pleat cream linen/silk trousers (£370) that sit perfectly, and a pair (£370, main picture) in gorgeous slubby cocoa-brown linen/silk.

I’m also loving the easy-chic way Officine Générale channels this dapper 1950s look, topped by a fullness around the pockets, which gives extra shape. “I was inspired by the elegant insouciance of Marcello Mastroianni,” says Pierre Mahéo, the brand’s founder and designer. Pleated trousers (£150) with turn-ups that finish just above the ankle come in English fresco wool, while the Riviera design (£175) with a French-style pleat comes in Japanese denim. “The pleats create a voluminous silhouette that’s super-comfortable for warmer days.”

It is 1960s/northern soul spirit that comes to the fore in Marni’s sumptuous modern take on charcoal widies (£520). Northern soul dancers needed volume to move freely, and the trouser style looked dramatic when they wove intricate steps and sweeping kicks. But for a more contemporary take on wide trousers, try Matchesfashion.com, in particular Lanvin’s slouchy putty-grey light wool-crepe trousers (£497), Lemaire’s roomy cotton‑twill pair (£290) and an avant-garde interpretation by Craig Green in denim (£378) that takes its cue from judo trousers yet looks remarkably stylish.

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