Fashion notes: Trousers as evening-wear conundrum

When Kendall Jenner closed the Chanel show in a white tailored trousers and jacket combo at Paris haute couture week last month, it surprisingly struck a chord.

Kendall Jenner modelling for Chanel in Paris. David Fisher / REX Shutterstock
Powered by automated translation

When Kendall Jenner closed the Chanel show in a white tailored trousers and jacket combo at Paris haute couture week last month, it surprisingly struck a chord – and I’m not talking about my Kardashian-hater radar, though that was going off quite fervently, too. I wasn’t blown away by the look itself, which was a nothing-­special outfit, topped off with a tulle veil and slightly garish camellia brooch. But being a bridal-­inspired look, seeing trousers brought a smile to my staunchly clenched teeth.

Trouser suits as female formalwear is not an entirely new phenomenon – even in bridalwear. Carolina Herrera showed her first bridal trouser suit on the runway in 2013, and for his past two collections, Naeem Khan has included his own similar renditions – veils and all. Designers such as Giambattista Valli have also been known to pair trousers with dresses – so trousers are garments that the couture catwalks have been seeing for some time now.

I’m a fan of the unconventional. I always love a good surprise in evening attire – something that’s fresh and unexpected. When trousers were first introduced as evening wear alternatives, they must have been quite a bizarre spectacle. I can only imagine the sight of a woman entering a traditional, grand event dressed in trousers, when all of the other dress- or skirt-clad females eyed her up and down with a mix of distaste and awe.

Sure, jumpsuits are viable options as well in evening attire, but no longer are they considered alternative. Neither do they carry the same wow factor as a good pair of trousers – they’ve become somewhat expected, since their mass diffusion onto the high street.

Trousers don’t connote the flirty, feminine feelings brought on by the sight of a skirt or a dress, but still hold a very powerful presence. Jennifer Aniston stunned in a suit at the Critics’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles earlier this year. Her look, a head-to-toe red Gucci trouser suit with a plunging neck, topped of with layered gold necklaces, was sultry and daring – a breath of fresh air among the glittery cut-out gowns.

If you have an evening extravaganza to plan for, keep the following trouser silhouettes in mind. Runway trends have dictated it’s all about the ultra-wide leg these days. For a chic, swanky look, try to find a pair that are fitted from the waist down to the thighs, and flare out dramatically below the ankle.

If you have the body for them, slim cigarette trousers, tapered to a T, can look beautiful on a woman. Look for pieces that have a subtle texture to them, or have lace accents. Whites, neutrals and pale pinks give a pretty, ladylike look, while deep earthy hues work with the continuing 1970s style trend.

While culottes are currently having their moment in the limelight, they don’t always make for ideal formalwear. Cropped lengths allude to a more casual attitude, and unless that’s the look you’re going for, stick to longer lengths.

I’ve found that while prints make trousers more interesting, they don’t always work for evening wear. As well, there has been an unfortunate influx of sheer trousers, both on catwalks and in stores – don’t give them a second glance, unless you’re confident about pulling them off with grace.

Also keep in mind that trousers aren’t your ticket out of wearing uncomfortable undies, because your derrière is often just as much on display in fitted trousers as in a tight gown.