The Best Shoes to Wear with Wide-Leg Pants

If you're uncertain as to whether or not you should go in for a pair of wide-legged pants, you probably should. They may even become your new best friend.

For one thing, they hide a multitude of sins. But, that's not the only reason wide-legged jeans and pants are so awesome. They also have a loose, laid-back vibe that comes off as casual, sultry and sophisticated, assuming, of course, that you choose the right style. Naturally, even the nicest wide-legged pants won't look stylish if you choose the wrong shoes to wear with them.

The good news is, there are a lot of shoe styles that work really well with trousers and jeans that have wider legs. It's actually more a case of knowing what not to wear with them. Below are the best and worst options for jeans and pants with wide legs. But first, let's be clear the kind of pants we're talking about.

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What are Wide-Legged Pants?

What-To-Wear-With-Wide-Legged-Pants-Shoes.jpg
Jenny Packham fashion show, Mercedes-Benz Fall 2014 Fashion Week -- New York, NY - February 10, 2014. © Jemal Countess / Getty Images

Though both are often referred to as "wide-legged," true wide-legged pants aren't the same as flared jeans or pants.

Flared pants are more fitted through the thigh area, then flare below the knee, whereas wide-legged pants are wide from the hips down.

Now that we're clear on what wide-legged pants are, let's take a look at the best shoes for them.

First, I'm cover to address the widest wide-leg pants, then we'll move on to more conservative styles, and eventually, ultra-casual wide-legged jeans.

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Palazzo Pants and Other Pants with Extremely Wide Legs

Model wearing cropped cream tank top and black palazzo pants.
Image: UrbanOutfitters.com

Here's the thing. With a lot of wide-legged pants, it's easy to rely on one simple rule: wear shoes that won't get lost beneath the pants. The problem with palazzo or other pants with extremely wide legs, all shoes are going to get lost.

So, what's a girl to do?

One option is to go the complete opposite direction, of course.

Instead of fighting a losing battle, by searching for shoes that can hold their own with such wide legs, look for skimpy, and delicate flats -- especially dressy thong sandals.

The idea here is that you're playing up on the extreme nature of the pants themselves. By deliberately pairing them with barely-there sandals, you're creating a bohemian vibe from head to toe. Or, at least, from hip to toe.

Other good choices for the widest of wide-legged pants include wedge and platform sandals; pointy-toed and platform pumps; and, in some cases, ballerina flats.

As far as heel shapes go, you can go either direction: chunky or thin. I personally prefer thinner heels with really wide pants, but it's really a matter of personal preference.

As a general rule, you'll want to avoid wearing pants like these with cross-trainers; loafers; and boat shoes. In short, avoid anything that's too sensible, but also steer clear of anything that's too over the top. Palazzo pants are dramatic enough on their own.

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Wide-Legged Dress Pants

Model wearing black dress pants with wide legs, white sleeveless blouse, and black almond toe pumps.
Image: ASOS.com

Palazzo pants tend to be extremely casual, or extremely dressy -- as in, evening-wear dressy.

They're extremely wide and flowing, instead of neat and tailored like wide-legged pants you might wear to the office. Therefore the rules aren't exactly the same.

So, now let's talk about wide-leg trousers that aren't quite as extreme.

Pants like these are fairly easy to style, because they work with almost any heels you'd wear to work. I especially like to see them paired with almond or pointy-toed pumps.

Platform pumps can also work, but you want to be careful not to go too crazy. Again, extreme pants don't necessarily demand extreme shoes.

As for flats, classic and streamlined women's oxfords are a nice choice. Keep in mind that a tapered or pointed toe will work better than most round toe boxes.

Some really simple loafers can also work here, but to keep the look chic and sophisticated, you'll want your shoes to be the same. Keep them simple, and free of trendy detailing.

And finally, flats inspired by smoking slippers will work well with wide-legged pants. Not only do they add to the whole retro vibe of this look, they don't compete at all with the nature of the trousers.

For the workplace or daywear, you'll want to avoid wearing wide-legged pants like these with sneakers, strappy heeled sandals, flip-flops, thongs or shoes with super-thick platform soles.

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Jeans with Wide Legs

Dark rinse jeans with wide legs, worn with light neutral platform pumps.
Image: 6pm.com

Unless they're the trend of the moment -- or unless you have a time machine that will take you back to the 1970s -- it's nearly impossible to find a pair of wide-legged jeans.

Flared jeans? Sure.

Bell-bottoms? Sometimes.

But, jeans that begin to widen at the hips or thighs... well, good luck with that.

Back in the day, these were sometimes called "elephant pants," or "elephant jeans," not to be confused with "elephant bells," which were just super-wide bell bottoms. Whatever you call them, they're casual, fun, and easy to style.

Because they're so casual, you can pair jeans like this with just about any type of sneakers, although I'd probably avoid anything too high-tech. I love to see really wide jeans with simple canvas or leather low-tops, like Converse Chucks, or even generic canvas platform sneakers.

Wide-legged jeans and flip-flops or thong sandals are also a match made in heaven. Laid-back, relaxed, even sloppy. But that's okay, that's what jeans like this were made for.

If you want to really complete the retro look, but you prefer heels, try pairing them with wedge sandals or chunky-heeled slides. A pair of platform sandals are also a natural choice.

For a look that's a little less retro or stereotypical, you can bring wide-legged jeans forward a few decades by pairing them with a pair of chunky combat boots.

Any of these looks are fashion at its most fun -- when it's not taken too seriously.