Dear Harem Pants,
You confuse me. You show up everywhere from runways to red carpets yet your proportions don’t look good on anyone…except maybe models, who are abnormally tall and thin. You even made Beyonce look bad – how is that possible?!!? Normal, fashionable women put you on and look like they’re wearing adult diapers…with stilettos. Or as if they escaped from the genie bottle. You should have disappeared along with Hammer’s rap career in the 90’s. Go away, yesterday.
Okay, that was mean. My fabulous intern wore harem pants and looked tres chic. And she made me rethink the pants I once swore off as a Halloween fixture (and they do look super comfortable). Here are the tips she used (and you should to!) to make this look work without looking like Aladdin.
TIP 1 – LESS IS MORE
Not all harem pants are created equal. Search high and low until you find the pair that fits well. And note: the pants that look like you’re wearing a diaper or carrying a small village in the seat are parachute pants. Scary. Please make the distinction.
Women with fuller figures should be just as weary of baggy harem pants. They’ll only accentuate problem areas. Stick to leaner harem pants which carry more volume near your hips but thin out down the rest of the leg. When worn right, these pants will enhance your figure instead of making you look worse.
Fergie’s pants create too much volume in the crotch which isn’t flattering on anyone.
Christina Milian creates curves in harem pants that have volume in the hip and butt area and get thinner around the legs.
Christina’s form-fitting harem pants are from American Apparel ($42, americanapparel.net.) Love them!
Beyonce’s cropped harem pants have way too much volume in the hip area making her proportions look unnatural and odd.
Rihanna’s harem pants are the perfect proportion for her body. They’re lean and cropped, making her legs look longer.
These Agua Jersey pants ($40, Bloomingdale’s stores) give the right amount of volume without distorting your figure.
TIP 2 – ADD SOME HEELS
The challenge with harem pants is that the billowy shape makes your legs and hips appear larger (similar to a bubble skirt). As such, the rest of your outfit should work to either balance or minimize the shape of the pants. Heels do the trick of lengthening your legs thus making you curvy and long instead of short and stout.
Eva’s heels elongate her legs in her harem jumpsuit.
A pair of killer heels add the perfect touch to these Silence & Noise harem pants. $20, urbanoutfitters.com.
TIP 3 – A BELT OR A CINCHED WAIST
Belts (or a cinched waist) are essential to wearing harem pants the right way. The volume of the pants are offset by a narrow waist, thus preventing you from looking like a human balloon or a walking pile of fabric.
The cinched waist of Ciara’s harem pants helps define her shape.
TIP 4 – CHOOSE STRUCTURED PIECES ON TOP
Let’s be honest: the fluidity of the fabric and the voluminous shape can get downright sloppy if you let it. That’s why it’s best to pair the pants with a structured top to achieve a look that’s polished and pulled together. A cropped jacket (let your waist show!), knit top or fitted blazer do the trick.
Gabrielle Union’s loose-fitting top and harem pants make her appear three sizes larger than she actual is.
Kristen Bell’s leather jacket and tank bring structure to her harem pants and the belt helps create a defined waist.
Though these tips make a compelling case for harem pants, unless I find an AMAZING pair, I’ll leave it to Ciara. Would you wear harem pants, even after these tips? Discuss.