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Can you believe there was ever a time when pants were considered taboo for a woman to wear? Well, thank goodness that’s no longer the case, because pants are comfortable and practical and fun! We’ve compiled a list of twenty-three different styles of pants for women, from jeans to cropped pants, and everything in between. Here we go!
23 Types of Pants For Women
- Harem Pants
- Fall-front trousers
- Cigarette Pants
- Palazzo Pants
- Bush Pants
- Stirrup Pants
- Carpenter Pants
- Yoga Pants
- Bell Bottoms
- Paperbag-waist slacks
- Cropped Pants
Let’s take a deeper dive into each style and see just exactly what we’re talking about.
Oh, how we love our jeans. The good ones are hard to find, but when you do, you never want to let them go. Jeans were developed as working men’s pants in the late 1800s by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss. They were made out of cotton denim that was developed in Italy, and became known as dungarees at the start, but eventually, the name became blue jeans. Blue was the typical color of the fabric.
Now jeans are available in a wide array of styles from boyfriend cut, to bootcut, to skinny cut, to high-waisted jeans. What’s in style may change, but you can never go wrong with a classic pair of jeans, no matter the color.
A classic boyfriend cut jeans by Kut From The Kloth.
The original Levis brand in an updated modern skinny cut for women.
Not to be confused with khakis, chino pants are similar but different. They’re made from a lighter weight 100% cotton fabric, have a slimmer fit and tapered leg, Though chinos may have pockets they are always flat in the front without pleats. They also come in a wider variety of fabric colors than khakis, which are well…khaki. They are classic and great for office or play and super comfortable for the summer months.
These cute girlfriend cut cropped chinos are great for the summer and available in a wide variety of colors.
This classic chino can ease into the workplace easily.
How many arguments have leggings spawned between teenage girls and their parents? These are pants! Those are pants! Well, parents, it’s sad to say, but leggings have made their way into the mainstream and are very much considered pants for women. Typically they’re worn under a longer rear-covering top, but not always. They’re just so darn comfortable with their form-fitting stretch, it’s hard not to want to wear them!
These wide waistband cotton leggings look great for workout or work!
Leggings in patterns? Why not. These plaid beauties will take you to the club in style.
Isn’t trousers just another word for pants? Yes, that’s true, but trousers bring to mind a specific type of pant. Trousers are dressier, with a slightly wider leg. They typically have both belt loops and pockets and may even come with a coordinating jacket.
This pair of easy-care rayon/poly trousers have a wider waistband for a modern look.
Something about the silhouette of a trouser looks fantastic with stiletto pumps.
Did you know that the history of harem pants goes back almost 2000 years? The style is thought to have originated with a men’s clothing article known as a dhoti. In modern times, they were popularized on the show I Dream of Jeannie, and we’re often seen in stereotyped depictions of Middle-Eastern women. Nowadays, they’re most associated with a kind of hippie vibe because of their flowy pants legs. You’re more likely to see them at Coachella than at work, though.
Harem pants often have elastic waistbands and cuffs to create a poof look in the legs.
Harem pants are even made in soft cotton jersey material for use in yoga classes. Like this pair.
This jaunty slacks started as men’s pants in the 1800’s Victorian era. They typically have buttons to the left and the right of the central point of the waistband, which, when opened, will fall. Thus the name.
On men’s pants, there were additional buttons for suspenders, but this pair of stylish women’s pants showcase the double button lines to the sides of the central waistband.
Cigarette pants are the original skinny pant. The name comes from the pocket that was made to fit a pack of cigarettes, as smoking popular in the 1950s when these first came onto the scene. They were capris with fitted legs, a wide waistband, and that handy pocket.
Nowadays, the pack of cigs pocket has been exchanged for a single coin pocket in the front, as evidenced in this cute pair.
First worn in the ’30s by the denizen of fashion, Coco Chanel, and then later by the impeccable Katherine Hepburn, wide-legged palazzo pants didn’t take off until the 1960s. Flowy and often in bright colors, palazzo pants radiate a real sense of personal style as well as the ultimate in comfort.
The origin of the culotte is in France, where French aristocrats before the fall of Versailles, wore short pants called culottes. As fashion morphed and changed over the years, culottes developed into a wide-legged breezy pant, but in skirt length. It was a way to have the comfort of the skirt, with the utilitarian feel of a pair of shorts.
This lacy pair of culottes takes the style up a notch. Not feeling the prom dress? Why not a lace culotte?
Oh, so comfortable, these breezy culottes will have you wearing nothing else.
Bush pants, also known as safari pants, were developed for Sub-Saharan terrain. They are often in the colors of the desert, made out of sturdy material, and host a plethora of pockets for all you need.
Nothing screams the 80’s like an awesome pair of stirrup pants. Stirrup pants get their name from the piece of elastic band that goes under your foot to hold the skinny leg of the pant in place and keep it from riding up. Leggings have taken over the need for stirrup pants, but you can still find them if you’re craving a pair.
Carpenter pants are a mix between jeans, chinos, and bush pants. They are often made out of a heavy-duty khaki material, are comfortable and made for moving and bending, and come with large pockets and loops. These pockets and loops are made explicitly for hanging a hammer or pocketing a tape measure. Thus the name. Carpenter, like a woodworker. Cool, right?
Can’t get more authentic than an original pair of Carhartt’s for women. These rugged pants are made for work.
Dickies is another authentic maker. This pair you can see the hammer loops extending on each side of the waistband.
Flare doesn’t refer so much to a specific type of woman’s pants, but a leg shape. The Navy uniform in the early 1800s was where flared pants first appeared, but then we began to see them more in the late ’60s and ’70s. Also known as bell-bottoms, flares have a wide leg that starts at the knee and flares out to the hemline.
Reminiscent of the power pants Cher wore on the early Sonny & Cher show, these sequined beauties are perfect for a night out.
Bootcut is another leg style, not as full as a flare, but broader than a straight leg, bootcut jeans were invented to fit comfortably over a cowboy boot. They’ve gone in and out of fashion over the years for regular wear, but cowgirls all over the country still pull them out for their race around the barrels.
Here you can see the longer leg and how it works so well over worn-out cowboy boots.
Another leg style. Straight-legged jeans and pants are classic. Legs fall straight from the knee to a hem that maintains its shape at the ankle. Universally flattering, straight-legged pants are the evergreen of women’s slacks.
A classic straight leg pant in red.
Skinny pants are not to be confused with leggings. The latter pulls on and has elastic for the waist. Skinny pants may have the same skin-tight appearance as leggings, but they have buttons and zippers for closure. They became popular with the cigarette pant in the ’50s and grew in popularity again at the end of the ’90s. The skinny pant seems to be here to stay because of its form-fitting nature and how fabulous it makes your legs look.
Here you see the button and zipper closure and skinny silhouette.
Jodhpurs originated in the equestrian world as a riding pant for women and men. They had knee patches on the inside of the knees to help with grip and durability in the saddle, and a slightly bowed look in the thighs. Though they are not often worn outside of the show ring, occasionally, someone may find the jodhpur is the perfect look. They are more commonly called breeches today.
Who doesn’t love a perfect pair of sweatpants? They’re not just for exercise anymore. We wear them for lounging around the house, running errands, even for a quick meal out with the family. They’re comfortable and cozy and oh, so casual. And yes, they can also be worn to the gym. Here are a few of our favorite pairs.
Stovepipe pants are the first cousin of your straight-legged pants. They fall from the knee to the ankle in a slightly narrower silhouette than the straight leg, but somewhat looser than the skinny.
These straight stovepipe jeans have a bit of flair with the ragged-edged Capri hemming.
A dressier version of the stovepipe leg.
One could argue that today’s yoga pants are yesterday’s jeans. We are more likely to throw on a pair of yoga pants than we are to throw on a pair of faded Levis. They are stretchy, they are comfy, they are easy, and lots of them are super cute. Originally made to be loose and relaxing for your yoga class, yoga pants have become mainstream.
Tummy control and cell phone pockets make these a no-brainer for the carpool line or the yoga mat. Yes, please.
If you prefer a rear pocket, here’s your pick.
Nothing brings to mind the era of the ’60s like the bell-bottom jean. These pants flared out at the knee and swished when you walked. If you’ve ever seen photos of Woodstock, you’ve seen these pants in plenty. Like other leg styles, the bell-bottom comes in and out of fashion, but it’s never disappeared completely. Even now, you can find loads of awesome bell bottoms for women.
If you want authenticity, these Free People Bell-Bottoms come complete with ragged hem edges. Perfect for festival going.
The name of these pants come from the cinching of fabric at the waist, which gives the appearance of a paper bag tied up with string. They are often high-waisted with some sash for a belt. They’re also super cute and feminine and surprisingly flattering for most figures.
Cute cropped pants with big pockets and an awesome paper bag waist. This pair comes in a plethora of colors and could be your new summer go-to!
This woman’s woven pant from Billabong has an excellent paper bag waist and a fun rope belt. It looks fantastic with a crop top, as shown here.
Cropped pants, also known as Capris, came into popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. They were a way for women to wear pants, not be too hot, but still maintain some modesty. Now cropped pants, ankle pants, and capris come in pretty much every type of pant type and material. They work for most people, though it is said that cropped pants will make a shorter person look even shorter. You’ll have to be the judge of that yourself.
Here’s a cool linen crop for hot days in the summer when you might not feel shorts are the right choice.
Here’s a classic cuffed crop pant that can work in the office or out for a meal. So cute in polka dots!
We’ve come to the end of our exploration into the types of women’s pants. From history to “herstory” as they say, you can now successfully find precisely the kinds of pants you need. But don’t leave us just yet, check out these other women’s clothing guides on Style Cheer before you go. Just click through on the links below.