Making the Awkward-Lengths Trend Look Effortless

Does anyone else suddenly feel like nothing in their closets is hitting at the right spot??  Well, rest assured, you’re not imagining it, nor are you hopelessly unfashionable (yet!).

At Boa we are officially calling this the “awkward-lengths trend” and it’s hit hard this season with most major retailers giving us little else to choose from.

In fact, fashion experts agree that we’re experiencing a “paradigm shift in women’s trousers,” and that the skinny-pant silhouette that has dominated since 2006-07 is on its way out, despite an acknowledgment that consumers have been reluctant to give up their skinnies. 

The official consensus is that we are in the midst of a macro-level shift in proportions and silhouettes that has the power to define the look of an entire decade.

Richard Hayne, the CEO of Urban Outfitters, was interviewed by Quartzy in 2018 for an article titled “Experts Agree: We’re in the Midst of a Paradigm Shift in Women’s Trousers.” In this article Hayne succinctly explains the difference between macro and micro trends:

“Trends can come and go quickly, especially in the Instagram age, but a shift of this sort tends to happen slowly and hang around a long time. That’s the difference between macro and micro trends, the macro being much more about proportion and silhouette and the micro being much more about things like fabrication and colour.” 

Marc Bain, the author of the article, writes “Micro trends may bubble up and dissipate in as little as a few months. A macro shift can last years.”

This said, you have a few choices:

  1. Forgo it; ignore it; pretend it’s not happening and look dated.
  2. Stick with shorts and dresses all summer long
  3. Lastly, learn to pull off this trend so it looks effortless and stylish.  

    This is going to require time, experimentation, and a willingness to venture out and try new things. 

    So, what are you looking for when you hit the stores and the changerooms??

    The new pant shape is high-waisted, wide-legged and cropped, but still somewhat structured. The width of the leg can vary considerably, as can the hem line, but most hems tend to hit somewhere mid-calf. So, unfortunately, your old capris and ankle-length pants aren’t going to cut it.

    Basically, the new silhouette is more androgynous and comparable to culotte-style pants. Interestingly, Sidney Morgan-Petro, a retail analyst at forecasting firm WGSN, predicted in 2016 that that skinny jean “was far from dead, but that a culotte-style pant was emerging as its heir.”

    Now I’m going to give you some insight to help you slay this trend (and hopefully cut your change-room time in half).

    1. The wider-leg styles can overwhelm petite frames, so if you’re petite stick with more narrow cuts.
    2. Wider widths are also suited perfectly for those looking to balance out hips and a small waist.
    3. Tops should be tailored for balance – think bodysuits and narrow-cut tees that can be tucked in, tied up and knotted. 

    And now for the shoes:

    1. Wide-leg crop pants work best with flat sandals.
    2. Wide-leg dress pants pair well with stilettos and heels.
    3. Wide-leg denim crops favour platform sandals (without a wedge heel) as well as chunky ‘90s era sneakers.

    So, what’s in it for you??

    The look is youthful, comfortable and subtly sexy.

    But, more importantly, the look is just so different than anything we’ve seen before, which makes it fresh and fun.

    Lastly, based on my research, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon so it’s best to adapt early on rather than waste time mourning the demise of your skinnies.

    Also note that changes in hem lines in fashion also apply to dresses and skirts too.  Anything goes these days.  Embrace it.

    Still not sold? Then I recommend reading the Quartzy article I’ve referenced at:

    And for additional styling inspiration check out this link:


    By Shawna Wynne, freelance writer



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