DIY Wide Leg/Palazzo Pants (and petite styling tips)

Wide leg pants (also known as palazzo pants) are quite the trend, but a wee issue I have being a petite person is the length. They’re usually waaaay too long for me so that I have to chop off a good portion of the leg, and by the time I chop it off the leg shape has changed and it kind of sits funny. I’ve tried culottes as wide leg pants but this only works for a certain cut of culotte. Here I’ll talk about how I made a pair of my own DIY wide leg pants as well as how I style them from a 5’0″ point of view.

But firstly, how I made them – and I’m not going to take credit for the how-to steps… I basically just followed the instructions from Geneva of A Pair and a Spare fame. The photos below are more of a visual diary of how I did it.

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I thrifted about 2.5 metres of this fabric from my local Salvation Army store. I’m not going to lie, organic cotton this fabric ain’t… but at $3 it was a good way to experiment how to make the pants. I knew I wanted a fairly stiff fabric (which this one was) so that the pants would retain their shape once worn.

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What to do if you don’t have a wide leg pants pattern? Use a pair of wide leg shorts (follow the shape then extend and cut the leg of your pants to the desired length), or even some pyjama bottoms that you like the fit of. (Just don’t judge me on my choice of print of my pyjamas here.)

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Measure the inseam of a pair of pants that you like the length of and this will basically be the length of your wide leg pants from your crotch (plus a few cms for hem allowance). You’ll see my pyjama bottoms were shorter than what I wanted the leg length to be so I just cut along the stripe to make the pants the length I wanted. The pyjama legs were also a little tapered so again I just followed the stripe so the leg was more straight. Obviously you don’t want them to be ridiculously wide, otherwise the pants would be wearing us!

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Using the first leg I cut out I was able to then make the other leg.

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For the leg and crotch seams I did French seams as the fabric had a tendency to fray and I don’t have a serger. French seams give such a nice, clean finish to these type of fabrics.

How I wore my DIY wide leg pants

One of the things Geneva mentioned in her post was to wear a top over the waistband of the pants to hide the elasticised waist; of course, this is a no-no for us shorties as this would just chop us in half and swamp our figures. So I went with her other suggestion, which was to wear a waist belt over the waistband. This does a number of things for us petites – not only does it hide the waistband, but it also gives us shape and helps elongate those legs of ours. Vertical stripes also help lengthen the look of the leg.

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With such statement pants (even if they’re just a plain fabric – the width of the pants makes the statement) I would go with something simple on top, like this cami, or a tank top, and it’s best if it’s not too loose as this will overwhelm our petite frames.

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Heels will always work with wide leg pants, but if you don’t do high heels mid-height block heels or even these Hush Puppies sandals that have a smaller heel also work nicely. Unless you’re taller than 5’6, completely flat sandals just kind of make the legs look a bit dumpy when paired with these pants. The fact that the sandals are nude in colour also visually lengthen the leg.

I’ve linked some shoppable options below if DIY isn’t your thing, including some that are less than $100, a pair of Scanlan and Theodore pants (ethically made) and some high-end second hand options via The RealReal.

If you have other styling tips on how petites can wear wide leg pants, let me know! Drop me a comment, let me know what you think of the pants, I’d love to hear from you!

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