Countless cuts, ever changing trends, and frustrating fits: Pants are far from a "basic" staple. With help from experts, Real Simple updates—and uncomplicates—the wardrobe stalwart.

By Jenna Birch
Updated October 14, 2015
Jens Mortensen
Jens Mortensen


Stylish pants for petite plus sizes are becoming more and more common. Check out brands like Lane Bryant, Simply Be, and Evans, all of which offer cuts in various inseam lengths.


Both issues stem from improper fit, says Cellini. An inseam that doesn't line up with your body, a loose waist, or extra material in the tush can cause sagging in between the legs, and cheap fabric exasperates the dilemma. Women under five-five may have more luck with petite pants, which are sized down proportionately. Camel toe, on the other hand, occurs when the garment is too tight, the fabric is too thin, or the rise is too short for you. Those with long torsos who are over five-eight may want to shop tall styles instead. Fixing this area is a tough alteration, so bottom line, says Cellini: "If the crotch doesn't fit, walk away."


"Your optimal rise is decided by your shape," says Romanovich. If you have a tummy, opt for a midrise that cuts across the waist just high enough to evade the dreaded muffin top. Curvier bottoms are best dressed in moderate to high rises, so as to avoid the plumber look or gaping at the waist. If you have an athletic body and minimal curves, you can opt for a low or midrise, she says.


The worst violators are the vertical ones that run along the side seams— they not only flare out awkwardly, particularly if you have curves, but also make said curves appear even wider. Instead, be on the lookout for pockets that tend to remain flatteringly flat—meaning those cut horizontally, diagonally, or curved (like those on jeans). If you want to salvage a popping-pocket pair that you already own, Cellini recommends enlisting a tailor. She'll remove the extra fabric (which fixes that other issue of unsightly bulky linings that show through), then sew the openings shut so the hip area is nice and sleek. In a pinch, you can also use Stitch Witchery or even double-sided tape to keep pocket openings tamped down.


If you have a bottom that's bigger in comparison with the rest of your frame, look for a substantial fabric with plenty of give—like ponte or a stretchy wool blend—to avoid puckering and puffiness around your hips. If nothing seems to look right, Romanovich says to find pants that fit nicely in the rear and the upper thighs—even if you have to go up a size—then have them taken in at the waist. Brands to try: Vince and Elie Tahari.