How to Wear Wide-Leg Pants Like Katharine Hepburn
When I was 18, before I knew better, I thought I hated wearing pants. While my peers waffled between True Religion jeans (for going out) or Soffe shorts (for everything else), I was smug in my “quirky” dresses and skirts—like the vintage-style ones Zooey Deschanel always wore on New Girl. In the winter I’d add leggings and pretend I wasn’t freezing. My summers were spent worrying that a random breeze would swirl in and reveal my bits to the world. I was both desperate to be seen as a unique, creative type and anxious that, oops, maybe I was overdressed.
I eventually chilled out and learned the reason everyone loves pants: They’re the best! Pants are usually comfortable—and if they aren’t, just undo that top button and you’re good. They have fun nicknames like trousers, slacks, and clam diggers. You can cross your legs in pants and not wonder whether the perv sitting across from you saw anything. Pants can be worn in any season and to any occasion. A business meeting, a screening of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, a daytime cocktail party, Coachella—I’ve worn pants to all of ’em. A friend recently asked me what to wear to a job interview, and my advice started and stopped at “Pants.”
A few months ago I decided I wanted a pair that told the world, “I mean business!” The kind of pants in which you actually feel the power coursing all over your stubbly legs. (Oh, that’s another thing I love—no shaving. I’m not actualized enough to rock hairy legs with shorts or a skirt, but I will embrace anything that helps me cut down on shower time.) Now a 30-year-old woman who has seen some things, I needed grown-up pants that communicated that.
I started my search at & Other Stories because the brand, beloved by Meghan Markle, has become my source for reasonably priced workwear, and I had a feeling I’d find a decent variety of pants options given the suiting trend that was happening this fall and winter. I went straight to the sale section (because duh) and found the Duo D-Ring Herringbone Pants on the first rack. It was fate.
They had everything I wanted—a high waist, legs that are roomy and relaxed, and a look typically reserved for tenured professors. When I put them on, a light went off: What I really wanted was pants that made me feel like Katharine Hepburn, Hollywood icon and legendary pants wearer, and these were it. I was sold.
Think piece after think piece after think piece has been written about Hepburn and her pants—for good reason: The actor was a pioneer of genderless style at a time when women were expected to dress up for occasions as small as a grocery store trip.
“I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to and I made enough money to support myself, and I ain’t afraid of being alone,” Hepburn told Barbara Walters in 1981. I mean, isn’t that the energy we should all be bringing in the Year of Our Lord 2019?
That energy comes easy with Hepburn’s signature silhouette—pants with roomy legs balanced by a simple, structured top (think classics like button-downs, turtlenecks, or fitted sweaters).
And whenever I wear these pants—to the office, to dinner with friends—I find myself channeling Hepburn’s easy confidence. The actor was known for playing characters as bold and strong-willed as she was in real life, and I fully embrace that. When I wear them, I speak up more. Jokes come easier. Others seem to pick up on this energy too. I don’t think the pants were, like, magically blessed by Hepburn herself—but they help me get into character, so to speak.
I’d like to pass that wisdom on. Experience the magic of Hepburn-inspired trousers by shopping some of the best high-waist, wide-leg pants available right now.