This Week I Love …

… printed pants.

I can’t quite believe I’m loving ANY pants. After years of just loathing them and feeling insecure and awful in them, I’ve finally found a few pairs that look marvelous and feel fab. And many of those pairs are printed, which is even MORE surprising. I first saw printed pants emerge a couple of years ago, and immediately started scouring my thrift stores. Sure enough, printed pants abounded, but not in the slim styles and contemporary prints I was craving. Luckily, the shops are lousy with ’em:

7 for All Mankind Garden Party – $189

There are two reasons I will likely never own these: They’re low-rise, and they’re really expensive. But holy moly, do I ever want to crawl inside that print and LIVE. Teal and magenta mixed with a soft, subtle olive make for an energetic yet versatile print. Maybe I could get over the low rise thing …

ASOS Cropped Pants in Paisley Print – $72.72

If you’re looking for a summer-specific pair, these crops are a great bet. They’re 100% cotton, and feature a bright, white background that makes them ideal for hot-weather ensembles.

DKNY Floral Slim Pants – $225

Oh, the lust I feel for these pants. Doesn’t that print look awfully Marimekko to you? That’s why I love it, of course. Well, and the fact that the print includes red, white, and blue yet doesn’t scream “Fourth of July.” A splurge to be sure, but oh so lovely.

Tripp NYC Tartan Skinny Pants – $27.27

If florals and paisley make you cringe, there are plenty of other options, including bold plaids. This pair comes in red, blue, and this vibrant yellow, and can be easily punked up (as shown) or taken in a preppy direction.

Warehouse Circle Printed Pants – $72.72

If bright colors and skinny leg styles aren’t your scene, consider these flowy, neutral widelegs. These have a mid-rise, unlike many of the available options, and a casual self-tie. They’re a little on the beachy side, but with the right sweater or tunic, could be dressed up for the office.

My feeling is that printed pants will look chic and contemporary in modern, exaggerated silhouettes – mainly skinny, but also superwide – and paired with sleek tops in solid colors or complementary prints. I’m a fan of prints that include a black background, but white and brights can work, too, so long as the print isn’t too traditional or twee. Crops will likely look best at ankle or clamdigger length, and in slimmer silhouettes minus any pleating.

Also I realize in retrospect that some of those printed pairs I found in my thrift haunts could’ve been altered to skinny legs and fitting waistlines. And probably for less than virtually all of the pairs listed here! Another route to consider, if you like the look but are on a tight budget.

What are your thoughts on printed pants? Will you try this trend?

(Top photo is of a pair from Talbots that I own. Similar style here.)

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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  • I used to swear I’d never wear white on my lower half and now I own white and cream skirts and pants, so who knows what the future holds. Right now I am not liking printed pants though. A lot of the prints that are around are on the upholster-y side, to my eye, very 80s chintz-covered sofa. I like the subtle neutral print on the wide-legged pair and I’ve seen a few other more geometric pairs around that I wouldn’t mind wearing if they appeared in my closet by magic. This is not a trend that I’m racing to drop money on though.

  • Happy

    Not my cup of tea. I think that model-like, teenaged girls can pull these off, or women who are very sure of themselves and don’t mind the attention. I’ll definitely pass on this trend. Brightly colored pants are my alternative if I want something new and friendly :).

  • Katharine

    Will I try this trend? Possibly, because there are some things that persistently appeal to me. Not floral, most likely, since my aversion to floral continues. But I’ve wanted plaid pants since I was a wee pseudo-rebel with a home-chopped mohawk, and I keep on buying them… and keep not wearing them, because I can’t stand how large and meaty they make my own thighs appear, looking down.

  • D

    I’m not really a fan. I like the punky plaid, and I have an old pair of plaid pants, but I won’t spend money on this trend quite yet. I’m not really sure why though. Maybe its because they are generally skinny, and that style doesn’t play so well with my big butt and athletic calves. I would happily wear those patterns in a skirt!

  • Jen

    There is a pair of animal print skinny jeans at Target that I have had my eye on, but I just can’t take the plunge. They are very Kat Von D-esque, rockstar cool, and I just don’t know if my 39 year-old self can pull them off. But I want to be able to!!

  • bubu

    I am definitely sitting this one out. I have yet to see them in a way I really like on anyone – even on models I think it makes their legs look big. Much prefer floral prints in a skirt or top. I owned a pair many years ago and realized they were about the least flattering thing ever. Even my husband, who usually only has positive things to say on what I wear (or says nothing) told me, when I asked, that he didn’t think they looked too good.

    • Anonymous

      I just had to say that I laughed about your husband and his manner of responding to your clothing… mine is just like that, and its a great trait!
      Thanks for sharing.

  • GingerR

    I’m attracted to them but in the past when I’ve owned printed pants I’ve found they’re hard for me to style/wear. That doesn’t mean I won’t acquire another pair, but my personal experience suggests they aren’t likely to work out.

  • Anamarie

    I like the pants in the first photo, and the DKNY pair. In high school, I actually owned a pair of Guess jeans yellow plaid, very similar to the photo above! I am not sure if I would take on printed pants again, I find pants a tough fit for my body type in the first place, and a print would probably make me very self-conscious. I have been doing printed skirts, though, and would love any of the above patterns in a skirt.

  • Anne

    Baby steps! I just bought skinny jeans two years ago. I bought my fist pair of bright colored pants this year. I think it’s gonna take a while for this trend to sink in. Maybe if they’re on the clearance rack this August?

  • I think printed pants are great!! I’ve yet to find a pair that looks great on my curvy bottom, but that’s with all pants, lol. I have a vintage pair that I cut from a jumpsuit, and I love them!

  • The only ones I could see myself wearing on my chunky legs are the last ones. though I am never saying never! But i do love the DKNY ones – it really does look very marimekko!

  • Mia

    I’m still not sure how I feel about the floral pants–a friend in high school had a pair of loud floral capris, and every time she wore them we joked that she looked like a tourist. I am madly in love with that yellow plaid pair, though. Too bad they don’t come in my size…

  • leah

    I love printed pants! I really like anything with a pattern. I also think that maybe you’ve disliked pants for so long because there were so few choices in colours and cuts available until just recently when they’ve exploded into style. That’s what I’m blaming my recent change of heart on anyway.

    However, weightlifting has furnished me with some massive thighs so I have trouble finding slim printed pants that fit right. I have a few pairs of wide leg ones that do the trick nicely though.

  • Olivia

    I feel like brightly printed pants like these would age me, but the neutrals look good.

  • Linda

    Noooo, thank you. And I have to say I’m not seeing anything especially contemporary-looking about the prints themselves, except maybe the DKNY pants, which I might not mind in a skirt.

  • I like them, but I think they’ll go out of style pretty fast, at least the floral ones. Usually when a trend is so ubiquitous, it dies after only one season so I think I’ll hold off for now. I do have a vintage yellow plaid pair ( that are very similar to the plaid pair above!

  • Tara

    I love printed pants, but I think they tend to only look good on very thin women. So unless a miracle happens and I spontaneously drop about 30 lbs, I don’t think I’ll be trying a pair anytime soon.

  • Corey

    I saw the 7 ones on a woman in her 60s at a conference last week. They looked AWESOME. She was thin and paired them with some sort of grey top and cardigan and flats. LOVED it.

  • I like the idea of printed pants and still plan to find the perfect horizontal striped pants sometime in my life, but I don’t buy pants that don’t fit and feel amazing. And finding the right fit on pants these days seems near impossible.

    I do think printed pants are one of those things that run the line of either being horribly tacky or awesomely high fashion. So I’ve stuck with colored trousers instead.

  • Jill

    Echoing the sentiment that printed pants generally look best on people with slim legs (which is to say, not me). Even then, I prefer pants that are not too busy. I do love me a pinstripe though–they’re cool *and* elongating.

  • Erika A

    I’m really not a fan of this trend. In fact, I might say I actively dislike it. Now, I’ve seen people pull it off and look put together and decent, but overall I give it a thumbs-down and won’t be trying it.

    I wore flower-print jeans in fourth and fifth grade. I had two pairs that I wore until they wore out. I loved those jeans! I was, however, nine. When I see these pants in ads and on the racks all I can think is, “everyone is dressing like nine year olds.”

    • Anne

      When I was little Sears Toughskins came in all kinds of flower prints for girls. Cindy Brady and I totally rocked them when we were six!

  • Sal

    Just have to say that I’m both confused and disappointed to hear so many of you saying that this is a style that only thin women or those with slender legs should/can wear. Everyone is entitled to her own opinion, of course, and I do appreciate the honesty. But this response makes me think of these posts:

    I’m all in favor of wearing what flatters your body, and am not saying anyone who loathes this look should force it. I also support figure flattery priorities that go against the traditional, and feel that people who wear what makes them feel happy and powerful generally look fabulous. So, as someone who doesn’t have thin legs and plans to rock this trend, just wanted to speak up and say that I think it can work on many figures, when styled well!

    • Anne

      The topic today reminds me of one I think you had last week, about getting used to a trend before buying into it. (literally) Thanks to your website I have really broadened my thinking about what is age or figure appropriate. I had some very strict ideas about what I thought women my age ought to be wearing. You are changing minds for the better I promise. I just think some people dip their toes into the big world of fashion and some can just plunge in. Maybe there are just more of us in the first group today?

      Keep the faith. We will all be wearing them by 2013.

      • Tara

        I don’t think anybody here said that women with bigger legs shouldn’t wear printed paints, but many (myself included) are of the opinion that printed pants look best on women with thinner legs. In my estimation, certain clothing items look better on certain body types. That doesn’t mean that someone shouldn’t wear something they like. If you have bigger legs and like the way printed pants look on you, rock on with your printed pants! But for me, I will likely not be wearing something that I don’t think makes me look my best, even if I think it’s a style that looks cute on someone with a different body type, and printed pants would fall into that category. I’m OK with that since loads of other things do look good on me. You win some; you lose some!

  • I am not a pants person per se but I do love a mean print especially in plaid or floral, and those yellow plaid skinny minnies have my name screaming all over it!

  • Amy

    I have to agree with nearly everyone in this thread. Whether I should or can wear these types of pants is beside the point. They plain just wouldn’t look good on me. I carry nearly all of my excess weight in my thighs so I don’t particularly want to call that much attention to that area. And these pants all seems to be either skinny, Capri or wide legged – none of those are silhouettes are flattering to my figure or ones that I ever wear.

    This is all a bit moot since I happen to not find these pants in any way aesthetically pleasing. I have yet to see a pair that was pleasing to my eye. So I’ll keep rocking my floral pencil skirts instead – which i love! But if someone else wants to wear the pants – more power to them!

  • I have a feeling that it would take me so long to find a pair that fit & look good on me, that the trend would have passed! It’s just so hard to find pants that fit my short & curvy size that I’m lucky to have a few pairs of black jeans in my closet. Adding a pattern that I like *and* flatters? Not likely.

    What I do love & have many of is patterned leggings! Much easier to fit. I have bat prints, lace prints, stripes, & more. Any time I find a patterned legging in my color palette & size, I snap that baby up. These bottoms look great peeking out from a skirt or tunic, kind of like printed tights but more substantial & the print stands out a bit more.

  • Jenny

    I agree that I won’t wear them myself, because my own personal style is much quieter. But I don’t think it has anything to do with how big your (my) legs are or are not. Allie from Wardrobe Oxygen doesn’t have skinny legs, she has glorious, serious calves, and she rocks the printed pants lately. I think she just has the confidence to pull it off, and the style that enjoys it.

    • Sal

      Too right! Allie and I have the same pair, and I love them on her:

      • Ruth

        Sure, but her figure is even, about the same width above as below. Many of us gals with big legs are basically pear-shaped. As one of those, I don’t think printed pants are my friend.

        Besides, I wore plaid pants in junior high in the 70s – don’t need to do it again!

  • Susan

    I’m with the one who said they aren’t aesthetically pleasing. To me they seem like fashion for fashion’s sake.

  • Kenzie

    I found a pair in a thrift store recently – skinny cropped pants. I figure I’m nineteen, still decently skinny, in college, they were two bucks, why the hell not? I’ve had fun with em! To me, since I’m not dressing to impress in any sort of professional environment on a regular basis, fashion is about looking interesting, and printed pants are certainly interesting! Tough, too, I like the challenge 🙂

  • I have two pairs of printed pants. My first pair is a pair of trousers from Cache that were $2 at a consignment shop. The print is a very graphic, geometric-meets-floral, black and white, largeish kind of print. I feel like the black and white keeps it pretty tame (as far as prints go), and easy to style the rest of the outfit harmoniously and cleanly. I keep everything else black, or black with one small pop of bright color in the shoe or another accessory. I love these pants and get compliments on them whenever I wear them.

    My other printed pair of pants is a black and white floral pair from Forever 21. (Yep, I acknowledge this as a fleeting trend, and as such, am OK with partaking in a little fast fashion.) The floral print is a wide-legged sheer chiffon overlay over a black opaque base. I love these pants, but I haven’t quite figured out how to work them into an outift yet. Thanks for the inspiration; I will have to play with these a bit this weekend and make sure I create an outfit around them!

  • Thursday

    I’m also in the camp of those who rarely wear pants at all, as I don’t find them flattering or particularly comfortable, so I’ll skip the printed pairs. Some of the bright floral pairs appeal to the vintage-lover in me, in a fifties clamdigger kind of way, but I would not wear them myself.

  • Anna D.

    I have to confess I really don’t like this trend. It makes me think of little-girl clothes, and I find floral jeans in particular really hideous (there’s something about patterned denim that totally doesn’t work for me – the way the pattern is pulled so flat, maybe?). Of course, I’m also fairly anti-pattern in general, and can’t see wearing almost any of those patterns in any clothing, except a scarf. (Well, and the DKNY pattern would make a great tunic.)

    That said, I actually like the ASOS outfit quite a lot (though actually, now I realize: I like these patterned pants much better when they’re shown as part of a full outfit, like the ASOS, plaid, and wide-legged ones, rather than just on their own – on their own it’s kind of like O HAI FLORAL!!!!! Not that the plaid or wide-legged pants are me, but I dislike them less than the other pairs). Maybe their capri-ness helps.

    I think people should wear whatever they like so if you like patterned pants, wear them, whatever size you are. But I do think that busy patterns like these draw a LOT of attention to wherever you wear them, and look like they take up more visual space than they actually do, so they’re going to make where you wear them look bigger. Which, again, if you like that, go for it! I don’t think only thin women can wear these items, but given societal pressures to make ourselves look smaller than we are (except of course in the boobs!), I don’t think a lot of women will feel comfortable in these items.

  • I’m really not a huge fan of pants and one NO PAIRS OF PANTS. None. Zip. I went through my closet a few weeks ago and discovered my two lasts pairs were both big enough to slide down to my ankles. So yeah, no more pants. I do own jeggings (which I wear with my butt covered) but that’s as close as it gets. Printed pants could be so fun, and I’m finally warming up to the idea of starting to wear pants again, however, I have a tiny problem. I haven’t worn or tried pants on in so long that… I don’t know how pants are supposed to fit! Where should the crotch be? Where should the hem sit? How much fabric is too much or too little, and how do I know they actually fit?! Pants are a mystery!

  • I am SO HAPPY you wrote this post. I learned years and years ago (when I was ‘thin’ and when leggings were ‘in’) that my strong, athletic legs looked best in print leggings. I have been in love with print pants ever since. Having gained a lot of weight after a bad break in my foot 6 years ago (heel bone – youch!) I still collected cute, printed pants in the size I wanted to be. Well, I can’t tell you how happy I am to know that size and ‘in’ have converged again. I have just lost the weight and can fit into the pants, but was hesitant about the prints. They are SO CUTE and flatter my legs and now I will wear them confidently! You really encourage and inspire me!