Posts Categorized: style

Reader Request: Styling Flares

how to style flare jeans

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Reader Sarah emailed me this question:

I wondered if you could do a post or a question in your column or something on styling flares. I love that flares are back in style (great for balancing hips), but I am having trouble with the silhouette. Fitted on top or not? Long or cropped tops?, etc. Also, what shoes?

Oh flares, my old friends. I wore you throughout college, and well after … even when the rest of the world had switched to skinnies. And now I can’t quite believe you’re back. Already. Although, in my mind, 1990 is only 10 years ago

ANYWAY. Flares are the silhouette of the season, and I imagine Sarah isn’t the only one who’s thrilled to see them on the racks once more. But they are a bit of an exaggerated silhouette, so they can feel challenging to style. Here are my tips:

Hem them

It’s always a good idea to have your pants and jeans hemmed for the style and height of footwear you intend to wear with them, but it’s especially important for flares. There’s a lot of fabric down there by your feet, and cultivating a ragged, dirty hem will only distract from your overall look. If you are long-waisted and short-legged, consider seeking petite flares since hacking off more than a couple of inches may affect the flare silhouette and balance of the jean. (It’s true that some folks are wearing cropped flares, but that trend is still on the fringes. And not terribly practical for cold weather.)

To avoid the no-feet look, consider having your flares hemmed slightly higher in front. And remember that pants hemmed for heels shouldn’t be worn with flats and vice versa. Speaking of shoes …

Try heels

You certainly can do flats with flares, but to my eye a heel makes the silhouette more fluid and graceful. Even a small heel, platform, or a wedge will work – something to give you a little boost of height and elongate your legs. Flares only make your legs look long and your silhouette look hourglass-y if there’s some distance between your hips and the flared hem. Heels can help. It’s a matter of preference, of course, but my preference is for heels with this cut.

Short or fitted tops

Flares can be worn with loose or boxy tops and jackets, but opting for something that shows at least half of your hip height and is somewhat fitted reduces the risk of swamping your figure. This is especially true if you want to wear flares either to elongate your leg line (a shorter top will do this) or create balanced curves (a fitted top will do this). For length, think three or four fingers’ width above your crotch point. And if you’re not too keen on clingy tops, try a fitted top in a relatively heavy material like ponte or a mid-weight sweater then add a looser jacket on top.

Or blouses … though consider tucking

Button-fronts and blouses are a great way to dress up your flares. In fact, some fashion experts and editors advise against going too casual with your flares-based looks to avoid an overly 90s feel. Since many blouses add volume, try tucking or half-tucking with your flares. It’s another great way to elongate your legs and keep the silhouette tidy, and allows you to add a belt to your look. You can also do a loose, floaty blouse and then bring in the float with a fitted, structured jacket.

Avoid tunics

What makes flares flares is the out-in-out shape they create on your body. A tunic-length top will cover most of your thighs, and unless you’ve got a pair of super-fitted flares that cling to your knees, that tunic top will obscure the curve inward from your hips to knees. Even if you opt for a longish top, make sure it tops above the crotch point so you can reap maximum curve benefit. Or if you want to play with proportion and use a longer line up top, try a fitted underlayer and longer jacket or duster.

As always, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.

Hope this helps! And have fun flaring it up this season!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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How to Do Long Over Lean

I’ve begun updating some of my greatest hits posts so they’re more current. This is one of them!

long over lean

Even with my style shift, once the weather gets warm, I’m all about dresses. Typically dresses with knee-length or shorter hems, nipped waists, and full or A-line skirts. That silhouette feels perfect for spring and summer. Ya know, a little something like this:


But as soon as the weather starts to cool off, I switch to the “long over lean” formula and stick to it until the sun returns. You’re well familiar with this look by now, I’m sure:


This is a combination of pieces and set of proportions that isn’t often discussed in traditional fashion writing: I can’t remember the last time I read a magazine article highlighting tunics and leggings as an alternative to separates or dresses. It doesn’t work for everyone’s figure and it doesn’t suit everyone’s taste, but for those of us who love it it’s borderline magical. Let’s talk about how long-over-lean works.



In its most basic iteration, “long over lean” is simply a longer-than-shirt-length top worn over a skinny-silhouette bottom. In the outfit above, I’ve got on a tunic, leggings, and ankle boots. Long layer over lean bottoms. This differs from:


A more traditional blouse-pant pairing. Here, the top is loose and the pants are slim-fitting – so there are some similarities – but the shirt is not long enough to capture the long over lean silhouette. And, of course:

Long top layers can be paired with other long, flowy, or full layers to create very different silhouettes. Maxi skirts, wide or straight leg pants, trousers of any sort. But for long over lean, you need a top that hits mid-thigh or lower, and a pair of tight pants or leggings.

There are multiple options for both elements, of course: Some very short dresses or very long shirts will serve, but tunics are most commonly employed on top. Length is your choice and will depend on your preferences and proportions, but the idea is to pick something that is shorter than your typical dress length to show off a bit more leg. In most cases, this means mid-thigh. If your top is long enough that you feel comfortable wearing tights or sheer hosiery, it’s likely more of a dress and hitting lower on your leg line. Possible bottoms include ponte pants, skinny jeans, skinny pants/cords, jeggings, and leggings.


When I worked in an office, I reserved my long over lean looks for Fridays and weekends. Plenty of my coworkers wore this style during the work week, but it just felt too casual to me. It’s all down to personal preference, of course, and you can gauge your own environmental factors, but I feel this dressing formula is inherently more casual than blouses and slacks, sweaters and skirts.


That said, there are ways to make it feel more formal:

Long over lean works marvelously with boots, but swapping in a pair of heels gives the look a more polished appearance. Adding an eye-catching necklace or other formal accessory alters the look, too. This particular outfit feels closer to traditional workweek wear, but to my eye, it still skews a bit casual. More flowy and less structured, more comfy and less formal.



This is my most common variant on the long over lean theme: Just add jacket. If tunic and leggings/pants are in one color family and jacket is in another, the combination re-creates the proportions of a top and pants. You can also do a jacket or cardigan that is approximately the same length as your tunic, as shown at the top of this post with my cargo coat. When going this route, my preference is to wear cardigans that fall within an inch or two of my tunic or dress for a clean look.

Already Pretty outfit featuring drapey vest, LAMade tunic, Karen Kane faux leather leggings, Maxstudio booties, J.Crew rhinestone bracelet

Long-over-lean can also work with other toppers, especially vests. This long, drapey one works well as would some of the “sleeveless blazers” we’re seeing these days. Experiment with shorter vests, too, and cropped jackets to play with the proportions a bit.

Already Pretty outfit featuring white tunic, cropped skinny jeans, blue goldstone Max & Chloe necklace, gray suede pumps

Here I’ve done a floaty white tunic and cropped jeans with heels for a funky, summery variation. If cropped leggings irk you, try clamdiggers instead. Any style of sandal or low-vamp shoe should work with this exposed-calf version.



This formula works marvelously for my figure because I have a small waist compared to my hips, a small bust, and average length legs compared to my torso. I also have thighs that are 3″ longer than my calves, so tunics work well on me. This pairing of garments will be more challenging if you have:

  • A long torso and short legs: If you want looks that lengthen your leg line, long over lean may challenge you. Shorter tunics may help, as will matching your shoes to your leggings/pants.
  • A large bust and small waist: If you want to accentuate your waist, doing so in a tunic can be tough. Belting may help.
  • Any self-consciousness about leg shape: This is a pretty leggy look in most cases. If you are shy about your legs – even when they’re inside pants or leggings – long over lean might make you feel uncomfortable. Bottoms made from thicker materials like ponte or denim may help, but if you’re just miserable, forget it. Not worth it. Plenty of other options.

If you’re concerned about how a long cardigan, tunic, and pants might interact and feel like it’s a lot going on, try staying within color families. Low contrast versions will look less busy, especially if the tunic and pants are close in value.

If you opt for boots – as I frequently do – be aware of how your top’s hem and boot’s height interact. If your boots are really tall, a longer tunic may hit you in an odd place and shorten up your legs. If your boots are calf length or shorter, long tunics will give you the appearance of an exaggeratedly long torso. This is the part of long over lean that trips me up most often, and I don’t feel like I’ve completely nailed it every time or landed on a perfect formula. So I’ll just say this: Experiment, be aware, see what works on your figure.

Long over lean is an absolutely fantastic option for women who are sick of doing jeans and tees on the weekend. It’s a slightly more polished casual look, but can be as comfy as PJs if the right garments are utilized. I can’t imagine my life without the tunic/skinnies combo, and feel like it strikes a marvelous balance between comfort and chic!

More on this topic:

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Already Prettypoll: Style Icons

Here’s a topic we haven’t tackled in a while: Who is your style icon, and why? If you don’t have one, I’d love to hear why, too!

Especially since I went for many years without one myself. I never really saw anyone whose style choices resonated with me to the point that I wanted to emulate them. Now, however, I’ve got three celebs – Halle Berry, Kate Beckinsale, and Kate Lanphear – and two bloggers – Alicia Hannah Naomi (who doesn’t post outfits much anymore, but when she does they look like this) and Margot Meanie – who inspire the living daylights outta me.

How about you?

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