Reader Request: Mastering Slouchy and Relaxed Clothing Silhouettes

how to wear slouchy pants

Reader Mollie popped this one into the suggestion box:

I love the relaxed look but as someone with hips and thighs I’m not sure how to pull it off. I’d love some advice on this specific trend, and perhaps more generally how to wear relaxed, unstructured garments when one is not model thin.

I carry a lot of my weight in my hips and thighs, and ADORE the slouchy look. Here are my tips for making it work:

Show a little ankle (or wrist)

Your wrists, knees, and ankles all curve in a little and if you obscure those curves – with big cuff bracelets, midi skirts, or columnar boots – the observing eye believes there is body volume where there is none. This is especially relevant when you’re dealing with voluminous, drapey, unstructured garments. Slouchy pants often look less overwhelming when they show a little ankle. Just that little peek can help demonstrate how you’re actually shaped under there. Occasionally, showing a little wrist from inside an oversized sweater or blouse can have the same effect. But not as often, because you’ll mainly want to …

Balance volume with slimness

Ahhh, that old chestnut. Still a great guideline to keep in mind! If you’re doing something unstructured up top, try to pair it with a slimmer-fitting bottom. If you’re going for a slouchy track pant, consider a structured jacket or fitted top. If you wear loose, voluminous clothing in both halves, it will be hard to tell where the clothes end and you begin. I’ve professed my undying love for Halle Berry’s style, but she does occasionally go a little slouchy-volume overboard. This is great advice for big or curvy girls trying unstructured items, and also great advice for small or curve-less girls, too.

Pair fluid with structured

Some folks look absolutely stunning in drapey tops and slouchy bottoms. I am not one of them. The pairing just looks sloppy on me. That doesn’t mean they’ll look sloppy on absolutely every curvy girl alive … but if you’re trying to master this look and can’t figure out why you look like you’re melting, consider partnering one fluid, drapey item with one structured item. Boyfriend jeans with a fitted button-down, drop-crotch pants with a denim jacket, a billowing peasant blouse with skinny jeans.

Pay attention to pleats

This mostly applies to pants, of course. Many slouchy styles include hip pleats and they can really make or break a style. Length, depth, and how much of the pleat is tacked down all affect how it will interact with your curves. I have found that pleats on fluid fabrics like jersey don’t fight my hips and thighs, but any pleated woven fabric will stand out from my bottom half like a tutu. Longer pleats that have been tacked down tend to work better for me, too, since they sit flat against my legs. You’ll need to do some experimentation to find out which types of pleats will work best for your proportions and figure.

Got any other tips for making this look work on a curvy figure? Or on any figure shape at all? How do you wear relaxed, unstructured clothes?

Images courtesy Nordstrom
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9 Responses to “Reader Request: Mastering Slouchy and Relaxed Clothing Silhouettes”

  1. JB

    Great tips! I would also add that volume is relative. If you’re just starting to experiment with relaxed styles, remember that a garment doesn’t have to completely engulf you in order to achieve a relaxed look. Something as subtle as switching from skinnies to boyfriend jeans, for example, might create the effect you want without having to go full-on drop crotch.

  2. Venusian*Glow

    I’d really love to see a post about fluid (drapey, soft) volume vs structured volume. I love fluid volume, but a friend said it makes me look tired.

  3. E.W.

    Huh! I was just about to google (giving away ALL my secrets to google) something like “how to wear slouchy pants if not slim” when I came across this post. I have a fictional work wardrobe I’m trying to plan for going back to teaching in september, and I’ve pinned like 9 versions of slouchy pants…with zero knowledge about whether such a thing would look good on my (short, not slim) body. It’s a kind of blind faith that what I like will like me back, but goodness knows I’ve learned in 42 years that in all things that is not always the case.

    Meh, I’ll eventually get myself into a department store to try some on, but until then I’m just sketching. Noted about structured tops with fluid bottoms. I don’t think I own anything that could be characterize as a structured top (I’m much more physically comfortable in a skinny bottom+fluid top– that’s my mainstay) – but I’ll start trying to open up my eyes to such things. Let you know if that works out, or if the better advice here is Stick to What Works/What You Know in the face of likely unflattering trends.

  4. Bike Pretty

    I love how these look from the front, but I feel like they fail me miserably in the rear view. I never know what kind of underwear to wear with these drapey trousers.

    I have a full butt that defies all boy shorts, so to prevent VPL, I usually end up wearing something long-line (like Spanx) for support, and to prevent my butt cleavage from eating my pants.

    But I feel like this defeats the purpose of wearing a soft silhouette like this! In this case, a skinny jean (with stretch) becomes the “comfortable” choice because the thicker material gives me more underwear options. Are there any other underpant solutions that I’m missing?

  5. Ronna Russell

    Calvin Klein (outlet) has some great options. I’m short with hips and thighs and was surprised at how flattering they are. They look great paired with a loose boxy top that shows the waistline of the pants a little bit.

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