How to Wear Relaxed Pants to Work

How to wear relaxed pants to work Just as we have gotten used to skinny pants, relaxed pants are making their way back on the scene.  From casual joggers and palazzos to professional pants with soft draping and, yikes, pleats, it’s time to consider the more relaxed side of work dressing.

All pants come with their share of challenges and relaxed pants for work are no exception.  Here are some tips to keep in mind.

How to Wear Relaxed Pants to Work

Watch the light bulb syndrome

If you have large hips and thighs, these pants may seem like a blessing.  Well, not so fast.  If you choose a pair that is too full around your butt and thighs and peg or taper too slim at the hem you will create a shape that looks like a light bulb, drumstick or bowling pin.

Pair soft with structure

Soft, easy pants work best for work when they are paired with more structure.  If your pants are fluid, try tops and knits that have more shape and fit well or blazers instead of shapeless cardigans.

Tunics rarely work

Aside from the fact that tunics won’t work with relaxed pants because of all the lumps and bumps that will likely show up through the top, these types of pants look better with tops that are shorter from a proportion standpoint.  Longer jackets and cardigans can work if they are lean and structured and have something more fitted and structured underneath.

Pleats only work if…

Pleats can be tricky things to pull off.  At this point, women have moved so far away from them that I’m not sure how many will actually return to embrace them again.  I know I’m not ready.  Deeper pleats can be fatal on women with tummies, who already have enough going on in that part of the body, and tend to look best on women with slimmer frames and not a lot of curve.  If you do have a tummy and want to wear pleats, look for pants styles that have thicker, more contour shaped waistbands and very shallow pleats instead.

Outfits for work using relaxed pants

For further instruction, check out these three outfits below.

Outfit #1

relaxed pants This first relaxed pants outfit, using this pair from Zara, is styled with a top from Reiss that definitely needs to be tucked in.  Even tucked, the top has a nice blouse to it as opposed to being too tight.  To add some pop, the outfit is accessorized with a pair of yellow Sole Society ankle strap pumps and finished with Style & Co. earrings and Michael Kors leather wrap bracelet.

Outfit #2

relaxed pants In this next look that, I styled with a pair of relaxed pants from Rebecca Taylor, I used a longer sleeveless jacket from Top Shop to show that jackets to work with these types of pants as long as it is lean and shaped.  Underneath the jacket I added this short sleeve top from French Connection, that definitely needs to be tucked, and accessorized the look with a pair of nude strappy heels from Modcloth, rose gold watch and soft pink drop earrings from Kendra Scott.

Outfit #3

relaxed pants This pair of relaxed pants from J. Crew have a wider leg and are clean and flat along the tummy.  This style will work well if you have wider hips and thighs.  However, the wider leg will definitely not work well if you are too petite.  In this case, a shorter, shaped jacket, like this navy blazer, is a better choice and, for a classic look, I added this Ann Taylor blouse from their Icon Collection.  To finish the outfit, I used these pink and ivory spectator shoes from Modcloth and I filled in the neckline with this blue and pink bib from Cole Haan.

What do you think about these more relaxed pants styles for fall?  Do you plan on wearing them?

  • Laura

    Thanks, Bridgette. I particularly like the shape of the last pair. My legs have always looked better in wide leg pants rather than slimmer cuts. However, I’m stumped regarding how to wear them now that I am older and have a tummy. What do you suggest?

    • Laura

      P. S. I am too self conscious about my middle to tuck in tops anymore. Thanks for any help you can provide.

      • What about tops that are more shaped and structured that don’t need to be tucked in. The perfect length is around your pelvic bones and an inch to two longer. You can also try wearing them with shaped jackets and cardigans to give your body some shape without showing too much of your stomach.

        • Laura

          Thank you, Bridgette. I’ll give your suggestions a try. 🙂

  • Adriane

    I bought a pair of these in a muted pattern at Target and my taylor and I had a bit of a giggle over having to alter my “pajama pants.”

    I’m not sure what that says about me that I would have printed relaxed pants from Target professionally altered… Bridget what have you done to me?

    • Hahahahahaaaaahahahahaaaaa!!!!! That is funny! I remember taking a pair of Old Navy pants to the tailor and thought it was so weird. Not sure what it says about us. I guess that we want to look good. Besides why should cheap clothes not look good when we wear them?

      • Adriane

        Well I collect them from the tailor tomorrow, we shall see how stylish I look in my new pajama pants… It may illustrate a thing or two about having your clothes tailored.

  • Liza

    Nooooooooooooooooo! Oh, please: Noooooooooooo!

    • Hahahhahaa! Well, thankfully there will be other pants to choose from, which I will be choosing because I don’t foresee myself wearing loose pants either.