What are Tapered Pants Comprehensive Guide & Benefits 2024

Tapered pants are a popular style of bottoms that are narrower at the ankle than they are at the thigh. This tapered or narrowed leg creates a tailored look that flatters various body types. Read on to learn all about tapered pants, including what they are, their history, how to wear them, and the best ways to style them.

What Are Tapered Pants? Definition and Styles

What are Tapered Pants

Tapered pants refer to any style of trousers, jeans, chinos, or other bottoms that narrow from a wider thigh to a skinny ankle. Tapered dress pants and tapered jeans are two of the most popular styles.

Tapered pants are usually tapered fairly gradually, starting subtly narrowing at or just below the knee. While the thigh and seat will fit looser and allow more room, the taper makes the ankles and leg opening much narrower, creating a defined, straight shape through the calf.

There are two main styles of tapered pants to be aware of:

  • Tapered trousers: A dressier style, these feature a medium to high rise with a tailored taper through the leg. They come in wool, linen, chino, and cotton twill.
  • Tapered jeans: Made of denim, these have a lower rise and much more casual, rugged look. The taper and leg opening are generally more extreme.

History of What Are Tapered Pants

The origins of tapered pants tie back to 19th-century “pegged pants.” Pegging is the practice of tapering standard straight-legged pants manually by folding and sewing fabric at the ankle seam to make the leg fit closely. People often pegged uniform trousers and later jeans.

In the early 20th century, tapered trousers saw a boom thanks to European designers creating tailored evening tuxedos and stylish suits. After World War II, an influx of Italian and French men’s fashion embraced tapering.

The variations in width—from extremely loose to very narrow styles—made tapered pants an icon of mod style in the 1960s. They saw another surge in the 1980s and 1990s with casual street style. Fashion in the 2010s onward returned to a slim tapered silhouette for both trousers and jeans, cementing their popularity today.

How to Wear Tapered Pants

What are Tapered Pants

Wearing tapered pants comes with a few guidelines to ensure the most flattering fit:

  • The most important fit point is at the thigh and seat. A proper-fitting pair shouldn’t feel too tight or restrictive when walking or sitting.
  • Having too long of a taper can make legs look disproportionately skinny to the upper body. Avoid an aggressive taper unless it’s an intentional style choice.
  • For a streamlined look, choose tapered hems that hit around the ankle bone without bunching. Going any longer can defeat the purpose of showing off leg definition.
  • If jeans, avoid flared or wide trouser-like hems in favor of a simple straight hem. Raw hem or slightly rolled ankles add casual flair.

Tapered vs Straight Leg vs Skinny Jeans

So what exactly sets tapered jeans apart from other popular bottoms? Here’s how they compare to straight-leg and skinny jeans:

  • Tapered jeans are narrower at the ankle than straight leg but are similar in the thigh and seat rather than skin-tight. This makes the leg silhouette look slightly top-heavy or triangular overall.
  • Skinny jeans are tight and form-fitting throughout the entire leg, not just at the hem. This serves to elongate and slim the entire leg’s silhouette rather than emphasize just the ankle.
  • Straight-leg jeans keep the same width from the thigh through the ankle for a classic denim look. There are no defined tapering or emphasized ankles.

Best Tops to Wear with Tapered Pants

Because What Are Tapered Pants puts more focus on the leg silhouette, balancing proportions up top helps finish off the look. Here are some of the most stylish tops to pair with your tapered:

Cropped Tops: Cropped tops cut short at the waist show off a flattering amount of midriff that complements the exposed ankle of the tapered pants.

Oversized Tops: An oversized, billowy shirt provides a stark contrast against the close cut of the legs. This plays with proportions in an on-trend way.

Fitted Tops: A fitted turtleneck, tee, bodysuit or sweater helps elongate the look of the tapered legs for a trim overall outfit.

Tucked-in Button Downs: Precisely tailored and tucked-in shirts keep a sharp feel on top to match the narrow ankle crop.

How to Style What Are Tapered Pants and Jeans

What are Tapered Pants

With What Are Tapered Pants now a wardrobe staple, here are top ideas on how to wear and style them:

Workwear with Tapered Trousers For business looks, take tapered dress pants beyond just suits by pairing them with turtleneck sweaters, crisp button-downs, or polos. Add loafers or oxfords to finish in a sophisticated way.

Casual Style with Tapered Jeans

Play with distressed, colorful, or black wash denim paired with cropped graphic tees, bodysuits, tanks, or blouses half-tucked. Finish with chunky dad sneakers or slip-ons.

Athleisure Style

Joggers featuring cuffed tapered ankles have an athletic feel that works great with lifestyle sneakers and athletic shirts or hoodies for fitness meets street vibes.

Summer-style linen, chambray, or stretch fabrics make excellent lightweight pairs for hot weather. Show off the cropped hem with espadrilles, mules, or ankle-strapped wedges.

Feminine Flair

Balance the traditional men’s tailored vibe by tucking in flowy tanks or off-the-shoulder tops. Add barely-there heels or strappy sandals.

Black Tie For formal events, opt for a rich black tuxedo with satin stripe What Are Tapered Pants, low-cut leather loafers, and a bow tie.

Streetwear Edge Street style-inspired tapered pants pair perfectly with graphic-heavy tops, oversized outerwear, and fashion sneakers from brands like Yeezy and Alexander Wang.

Who Can Wear What Are Tapered Pants?

One of the best aspects of tapered pants is how flattering they can be on so many body types, from petite to plus size. Here’s who wears them best:

  • Petite women: The taper effect makes legs appear much longer than unflattering wide cuts that overwhelm small frames. Wear low-profile shoes to avoid cutting off the length.
  • Curvy women: A gradual taper is fantastic for accentuating shape while balancing out hips and thighs. Look for stretch-infused fabrics and proper waist height.
  • Athletic women: Tapered pants showcase sculpted legs and calves without clinging to muscles. Opt for mid and high-rise pants to feel most comfortable.
  • Straight body types: Adding shape through the ankle helps create curves on ruler-shaped bodies unaccentuated by straight legs.
  • Plus sizes: Rather than making legs look heavier, a tapered leg counterbalances curves and highlights the narrowest part of plus size figures.
  • Tall women: While height needs no extra accentuation, tapered jeans are a great basic for all frames. The narrow ankle prevents the fabric from pooling at the shoe.

Where to Buy Tapered Pants

What are Tapered Pants

Thanks to their versatile, on-trend style, tapered pants for women and men are widely available from designer boutiques to mall staples like H&M and Zara. Some top stores to shop include:

  • ASOS: Known for fashionable, affordable basics, ASOS offers an incredible array of casual and tailored tapered pants updated each season.
  • Everlane: Expect elevated essentials, with tapered jeans, trousers, and chinos focused on an array of sizes for an optimal fit.
  • Madewell: This denim destination sells various styles of tapered jeans alongside chinos and cropped dress pants boasting that perfect narrow-leg crop.
  • Banana Republic: From vintage wash denim to lightweight wool trousers, Banana Republic carries tapered pants for work or weekend wear.
  • Lululemon: Beloved for workout staples, Lululemon offers tapered athletic pants beyond just leggings, like joggers and yoga trousers.

How to Alter Pants Into a Tapered Shape

While it’s easy enough to buy What Are Tapered Pants off the rack, you can also turn straight-leg pants into DIY tapered pants. Here is a simple way to get the tapered look:

Mark Pin Placement Turn pants inside out. Try on pants marking the desired taper width with pins, starting slightly below the knees to the ankle. Remove pants.

Sew Tapered Shape Set your sewing machine to a straight stitch setting with medium-length stitch size. Sew vertically along the pinned edge of each inner leg seam starting about 3 inches below the original hem. Remove pins as you sew.

Trim Fabric and Hem Trim off excess pant leg fabric so it’s flush with the new tapered edge leaving a 1⁄2 inch seam allowance. Make sure to cut equally on both sides. Turn the pant legs back to the right side—re-hem pants to the desired length or leave them raw.

Considerations When Altering Pants Taper When DIY tapering trousers, jeans, or other pants, keep these tips in mind for the best results:

  • Mark taper at least 3 inches below the knee or lower for a gradual shape
  • Pin the tapered edge while pants are worn to ensure proper shaping
  • Sew slowly and remove pins as you go
  • Use sharp shears and cut both sides evenly when trimming fabric
  • Add wearable hem width so cuffs don’t crowd the ankle

What Are Tapered Pants FAQs Still have some questions about the versatile tapered pant style? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Are tapered pants in style for 2023? Yes, What Are Tapered Pants are very on-trend right now. The narrowed ankle provides a flattering silhouette that pairs well with many styles from athleisure to business casual to evening dressing.

What do you wear with What Are Tapered Pants? Some top outfit ideas include cropped tops, oversized button-downs, fitted bodysuits, graphic tees, and chunky sneakers or loafers. Tuck in or half-tuck flowy tops to balance proportions.

What body type do What Are Tapered Pants look best on? Tapered pants tend to look great on all body types. Petite figures can wear them to add length, curvy bodies to balance shape and accentuate the narrowest part of the leg, athletic builds to show muscle without clinging, straight bodies to create curves, and size figures to give shape without volume.

Can I turn regular pants into What Are Tapered Pants?

What are Tapered Pants

Yes, any pair of jeans, trousers, or other straight-leg pants can easily be altered into DIY tapered pants by sewing vertical lines to taper the leg width starting slightly below the knees. Be sure to trim any excess fabric evenly.

Do tapered pants make you look shorter? Often the opposite! A tapered leg often gives the illusion of longer legs compared to overly wide pant legs that can overwhelm a petite frame. Just avoid exaggerated crops at the ankle to keep the visual height.

The Takeaway What Are Tapered Pants

With their leg-elongating tapered shape, ability to complement all body types and fashionable versatility, it’s no wonder tapered pants have become a modern wardrobe staple. Whether jeans, trousers, joggers, or any other narrow-legged style, embrace this effortlessly chic bottoms trend by incorporating What Are Tapered Pants into your everyday outfits.

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