The Return of Baggy Pants

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There’s no other way to put this: I like baggy pants. 

Twenty years after designers sent slim-fit clothes down runways, it feels like menswear is finally loosening up again. Raf Simons and Vetements have made headlines in the last year with their oversized silhouettes, and athleisure – a trend that mercifully never took off – did the important work of reminding us that clothes ought to be comfortable. You don’t have to reach that far into designer labels and trends to see the writing on the wall, however. Even more classically minded guys have been reconsidering the virtues of higher rises and pleats – two things that have traditionally accompanied looser leg-lines. 

To be sure, what we’d consider to be a full cut today isn’t even that full. It’s just that slim-fit clothes have so skewed the median that even a classic pair of trousers can feel oversized. I’ve been into looser, more interesting pants for casualwear, but even those are slimmer than my suit trousers from Steed, which are classically English. 

The first time slipping into fuller-legged trousers feels a lot like the first time trying on slim-fit pants. The cut feels foreign and unfamiliar, and with a fit that’s so different from what’s in your closet, you’re left wondering how to wear it.

That said, when I first tried a baggier cut, I remembered what I initially didn’t like about slim-fit clothes. These are so much more comfortable! The pants don’t cling to the back of your calves when you walk, or pull on your thighs when you sit down. They move with you, rather than against you. Looking back, it’s odd to think that my business clothes are more comfortably cut than my casualwear. 

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Some things I’ve found while wearing fuller cut pants in the last year:

  • A slight taper goes a long way. Even if the thighs are cut very full, you can give the leg line some shape with a subtle taper. Aside from denim, I haven’t seen too many wide-legged pants that look good in a straight-legged cut. If anything, try a pinroll. 
  • Hemming is important. There aren’t any rules here, but I find fuller-legged trousers to be easier to wear when they’re hemmed with minimal break (or my preference, slightly cropped). It just makes the cut look more intentional than if you have fabric pooling around your ankles. 
  • Pair them with other loose-fit clothes. Slightly oversized sweaters and long, raglan-sleeved topcoats work well. The only exception here is trousers that are more moderately cut, which can swing either way. I’ve been wearing my Stan Ray x Urban Outfitters fatigues with slimmer Engineered Garments shirts and jackets. Slim cut fatigues now just feel wrong. 
  • Keep this to casualwear. Maybe I’m a purist, but I think tailored clothing looks best in more classic cuts. Keep any experimentation to casualwear and leave oxford bags to historical re-enactors. 

As for where to get a pair, I have some things from Stay Ray, Chimala, and Tomorrowland, but the particular models I’d recommend are sold out. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration, however, from brands such as Eidos, Lemaire, Margaret Howell, Deveaux, and E. Tautz. They may have some things this coming season. It’s also worth browsing Gentry, Unionmade, and Mr. Porter – three stores that I’ve found are more willing to experiment when it comes to these things. 

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