Palazzo pants: the long and short of it 

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Be you short or tall, palazzo pants are not only doable but highly versatile says Hannah Rochell. Here’s how to wear them 

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By Hannah Rochell on

As a 5ft 3” flat shoe wearer, I never thought the day would come when I’d be writing a feature about how much I love palazzo pants. There’s just too much fabric to make them look half decent on my short legs, and I’ve always steered clear because I associated them with glamorous, wealthy, elderly ladies holidaying on the French Riviera (and jolly nice those ladies look too, but I am neither wealthy nor elderly… nor, some would argue including myself, glamorous). But times appear to be changing, because today, I am writing to tell you how much I love palazzo pants. 

Now, I’m not talking about the super-long styles that you might have seen in stores at the moment – they literally come up to my shoulders. (However, if you are tall enough to actually poke your feet out of the ends then by all means, it’s a great look.) Rather, the reason my opinion has changed this summer, is that so many high street stores have cottoned on to the fact that not everyone who fancies wearing palazzo pants is over 5ft 8”. Behold! Cropped palazzo pants are here. 

Hannah in a striped pair of palazzo pants 

Differing from a traditional pair of culottes (although, confusingly you’ll often find them described as such), palazzos have much lighter, floatier fabric, making them ideal to swish around in during the summer months. I wore mine non-stop during the heat wave and it was weirdly much cooler than having bare legs.

Aside from the obvious comfort factor (most come with elasticated waists ergo are basically trackie bums), cropped palazzos are (surprisingly) one of the most versatile items in my wardrobe. When I picked up my first pair of the season – a gingham pair from Urban Outfitters which have recently taken an unfortunate turn in the tumble dryer, causing them to shrink, for which my husband is VERY sorry – I found it hard to wear anything else. Nothing felt as easy as slinging on a loose pair of trousers with a T-shirt and Birkenstocks. I’ve also found they are easy to dress-up for a swish summer party or even a wedding – just add a fancy top, flat sandals and an evening bag. But my favourite way to wear palazzos is with a Nineties vibe – aka a pair of retro sneakers, Converse One Stars and adidas Sambas being my favourites. (In fact, if you see someone wearing palazzo pants and Sambas in London over the next few weeks, it’s probably me.) And when we head into the next season, switch your T-shirt for a jumper, your sandals for closed-toe loafers and you’re all set. 

Hannah in her gingham palazzo pants and Converse

Have I won you over? I hope so. Here are my top tips before you pick up a pair for yourself.

Get your ankles out  

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. The length of palazzo pants differs wildly, even within the same store (I’m looking at you, Zara), and you just can’t tell whether they will suit you without a trip to the changing rooms. If you’re tall, a pair that almost brush the floor look brilliant (the key being almost here, no-one wants dirty hems). For the less lofty, showing a flash of ankle has a leg-lengthening effect and will stop you looking drowned. If you’re online shopping, order a few and have a try on at home.

Try on a printed pair 

Stripes, gingham and even this summer’s polka dots are an absolute joy on a pair of wide legged trousers . If you’re not naturally a print person, I find printed bottom-halves a little more doable  on the whole. & Other Stories has a splendid pair with a pineapple design (£65) but sadly they are too long for me, so I’d really like it if you wore them on my behalf. Thanks. Shorties have a look at Jigsaw’s gingham cropped pair (£98)

Wear them with flat shoes

Unless you’re going for the super-long-trousers-completely-covering-your-wedge-sandals look (a la Victoria Beckham), I’d advise wearing flats with your palazzos as it’s really tricky to get the proportions of the heel and the wide leg right. Birkenstocks, slides and low-top Converse are all a goer. Avoid pairing them with spiky stilettos AT ALL COSTS. It just looks weird.

Tuck in a T-shirt 

Remember when fashion magazines spent about five years telling us to wear volume on top if we were wearing skinny jeans? Well, the opposite applies with wide legs. A fitted top half will stop you looking swamped. Zara has some great slinky T-shirts that don’t hug too tight, and try Warehouse for slim-fit T-shirts that wash well. Tuck them into your palazzo pant waistband.

Click here for the palazzo pants edit – and what to wear them with

@EnBrogue ​

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