While sundresses and other skin-baring pieces may be summertime staples, not everyone loves wearing shorts. The good news? There’s no rule that pants have to be reserved for the colder months.
“As a stylist in Arizona, I have so many clients that don’t want to wear shorts in the summer months and need alternatives that are fashionable, flattering, and most of all, comfortable,” says Abigail Valentine, a personal stylist and founder of the Joy & the Valentine. “With age comes sun spots, veins, and loss of elasticity in the skin—particularly in the knee area—so it’s not uncommon to want to cover those areas up.”
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The 5 Best Pants to Wear in the Summer
Pants can come in handy during the summer for lots of other reasons, too—for instance, if you’re healing from a nasty sunburn, want to fend off mosquito bites, or are attending an event with a dress code.
1. Linen Pants
Across the board, all stylists named linen as one of their favorite summer fabrics—and with good reason. Since it’s loosely woven, it allows body heat to quickly escape so you can stay cool and dry. Not to mention, it epitomizes effortless elegance.
The beauty of linen pants is that they’re easy to dress up or down, depending on the occasion. Wear them with strappy flat leather sandals and a basic T-shirt or tank for a laid-back lunch with friends, or build a chic set with a matching blouse and block heel mules for an evening event.
As Valentine points out, linen pants can also be found in sleek tailored styles, like these Reformation pants, or flowy and casual styles, like this pair from Athleta.
Miranda Schultz, a plus-size fashion and lifestyle blogger and personal stylist loves the size-inclusive pull-on linen pants from Universal Standard, which are available up to a size 40 (4XL).
2. Wide Leg Pants
Wide-leg pants are a no-brainer on sticky afternoons because they offer plenty of airflow.
Since the wide-leg silhouette offers plenty of drama, Valentine notes that you can pair it with simpler pieces like a basic tee and neutral sandals—especially if you’re opting for pants in a fun pattern. Ideally, wear your wide-leg pants with fitted tops to offset the flowy, flared shape.
3. Palazzo Pants
Think of this style as the pants equivalent of a maxi dress: Its flowy silhouette gives off major vacation vibes.
“While they’re technically pants, they look like a skirt,” explains Jaquelyn Wahidi, a personal stylist based in San Diego. “With all the extra room, you get nice airflow. And palazzo pants are easily dressed up with heels and jewellery, so they can be worn to work or a nice dinner.”
Like the wide-leg style, palazzo pants are super flowy—which is why Wahidi recommends wearing them with a structured, well-fitting shirt for visual balance and to accentuate your waistline.
“Opt for lightweight fabrics like silk or chiffon for a luxurious feel,” adds Joe Manktelow-Pimm, a fashion expert and editor at 7Gents. “Pair them with a fitted tank top or a tucked-in lightweight sweater and heels for a beachside dinner.”
4. Cotton Cropped Pants or Capris
You can’t go wrong with cotton capri pants in the summertime—the breathable material and cropped length help keep you comfortable. Not to mention, this style makes it easier to show off those cute summer wedges.
“I’ve seen women walking down the promenade in the evenings wearing one of these with mid-heel sandals and a collared halter neck button-down shirt,” says Ayah Kajouk, founder of the Aya Mana clothing line. “This outfit hits the sweet spot between classy and casual.”
Schultz recommends these best-selling wide-leg cropped pants from Maeve, which come in 14 different colors and prints and four size type options (petite, tall, standard, and plus).
“The fabric is a summer-friendly lighter weight with lots of stretch,” she says. “You can dress these up for a day in the office or make them work for running errands on the weekend.”
5. White Distressed Jeans
White jeans look so striking against a tan, but thick denim can be a bit heavy when the temperatures are soaring. That’s why stylists advise reaching for a distressed pair—like these Madewell baggy straight jeans. The holes provide some much-needed ventilation.
Melony Huber, a stylist and co-founder of La Peony, notes that lighter-colored fabrics like white don’t absorb nearly as much heat from the sun as darker ones—making them ideal on 80- or 90-degree days.
“One of my favorite looks is a monochromatic white outfit with contrasting accessories like a brown belt, shoes, and bag,” she adds.
Huber also recommends opting for lighter-weight, stretchy denim with ripped detailing in the summertime. Pair those jeans with a striped tee, button-down patterned tank, or off-the-shoulder loose knit sweater for backyard barbecues and other laid-back get-togethers.