Throwing a curve: 3 easy outfits with barrel-leg pants

While I’m a believer in building a core wardrobe of simple, timeless pieces, sometimes a “wild card” or two is just the thing to breathe some new life into our look. I’m wild about these slouchy soft twill pants, and found them surprisingly easy to style. Today I’m sharing 3 outfit ideas with barrel-leg pants.

Over the last decade, I’ve probably purchased at least a dozen pairs of classic trousers. And almost never wore them. I kept thinking maybe it was the cut or color or fabric that wasn’t working, and kept trying out variations on the style. But a few months ago I realized that the classic trouser style is just too staid for me.

One of the clues that tipped me off was how much more comfortable and “myself” I felt in the Eileen Fisher lantern pants. I love the curved shape, and that they feel relaxed but polished. So I’ve been keeping my eyes open for more curved and barrel-leg pants that will work with my frame and wardrobe palette.

I’d been eyeing several styles of curved and tapered pants at Ruti, and finally was able to get to a store to try them on. The color of this pair caught my eye, and they were an immediate YES! as soon as I slipped them on. But the real test was whether I’d be able to style them easily, and they passed.

3 easy outfits with barrel-leg pants

1. polished playful

Barrel-leg pants outfit: Susan B wears a cream merino sweater, leopard print belt, Ruti soft twill pants, gold sneakers.
My sizes: sweater – Xsmall, belt – small, pants – 1

I’d been wearing this sweater when I tried the pants at the store, so started with the same combo. The color of the pants is a mustard-y camel, and I love how it looks with the leopard print belt!

2. going out

Susan B wears going-out look with slouchy trousers, medallion necklace, dark brown top, brown croc-print boots.
My sizes: top – small, pants – 1

Normally I’d wear jeans with this look, but really like how the pants add something unexpected, while still looking relaxed and laid back.

3. toned down

Susan B. wears a navy v-neck cardigan, barrel leg pants, and metallic fisherman sandals.
My sizes: cardigan – XS, camisole – small, pants – 1

Some might find navy and mustard an odd pairing, but I like it. The classic-ness of the navy cardigan dials down and grounds the look a bit.

Now, I know these pants aren’t to everyone’s taste. And no, they don’t make my legs look longer and thinner, but that’s not the point of them. If you do like them, but this color isn’t for you, they’re also available in shades of black, charcoal, and gray. I’d say they run true-to-size; I’m wearing a 1 which corresponds to US size 6. And they are available to US size 16.

I also have this similar style on order in the blue color (which corresponds to the Bright Navy in my Spring palette). I’ll report back once I receive them.

What “wild cards” do you have in your wardrobe?

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  1. Hi Susan,
    I think you look great in your going out outfit. I’m a huge fan of jeans but I think these pants add much more to this look. Maybe I need to get out of my jeans rut and try something new.
    Best wishes,
    Julie x

  2. Hi Susan, the pants are a great addition to your wardrobe. I have a pair of barrel type jeans from AYR and really love them, but it took a while to figure out how to style them. Because I’m a v shape I find that keeping my top slim balanced out the fuller shape of the jean. I also prefer a loafer, mule, or boot with them. I do wear them with sneakers, but I prefer other shoes. Please continue to show how to style different silhouettes of pants. And Susan I agree it’s not always about longer and thinner.

  3. I’m in love with barrel pants; it’s all I wear now. I feel they are fun and different but still polished. I love how you styled this pair! Thank you for all your helpful hints!

  4. Thank you for explaining why I always reach for my Eileen Fisher lantern pants instead of my other trousers! If you find similar lanterns style pants in a lower price range, please let us know.

  5. I bought a pair of bright mustard pants last fall because they were marked way down ($3.00) and a perfect fit. They’ve become one of my “go to” pieces and look great with any bright color you throw at them!

    1. Everlane does several barrel shaped pants. They are, of course very reasonably priced. I’ve had a pair of the utility barrel pants, in ivory for years. They’re well made, and in a rather sturdy canvas type fabric.

      1. I love the look of the Everlane pants, but alas they are too long in the rise for me. Better for taller or longer-waisted folks.

        1. Got it! I’m 5’7, and rise didn’t occur to me.
          Proportionally these work for me best with a hip length top, or a half tuck.

  6. I love these pants and now you’ve styled them! I agree, we need to choose clothes that feel like us and make us happy. Thank you for sharing these outfits.

  7. I like all the color combinations, and the pants look cute on you. On me, they would just look sloppy and unflattering. Thanks for sharing this new and different style. They do look comfortable!

  8. What fun pants! Love the color so much. I agree about classic pants. The only non-jean pants I can wear need a twist. My go to has been a crop flare style. Wasn’t sure this
    style would look good on my petite frame but you totally rock it and I will have to try some barrel pants!

  9. Love all three looks, and fans of the University of Michigan would not think mustard and navy an odd pairing at all!

  10. I think these pants work well for you because you are petite. On me, at 5’9″, they look ridiculous. Pants are the bane of my existence!

    1. Hi Bette, I know a lot of taller women avoid cropped pants, but if you’re interested, you can see how they’d look on someone taller on the Ruti website.

  11. Good post. I like the way you showed different outfit combinations. Good gamine, and good for this autumn. I ordered!

  12. I love these pants on you! Especially with the brown and blue tops, but it’s all good.
    I have a pair of the Eileen Fisher lantern pants, bought for reasons similar to your own, and love wearing them.

  13. I prefer the first two looks, with the top French tucked, giving the body some shape. I am bored to death with my jeans and chinos, but nothing else seems to fit/flatter me.

  14. Hi Susan- These pants look great, and so much fun! I’m just wondering if you had to have them hemmed or altered as we are about the same size? Thanks for all of the great posts.

  15. I love barrel pants and I adore EF Lantern Pants too. I found the cutest pair of lavender corduroy barrel leg pants (similar to the Ruti ones you’re showing) last year in a little shop in St. Ives Cornwall. I get so many compliments on them but they’re definitely not everyone’s taste (and I like that). I love your ME+EM sweater too. Ohhhh, I could go crazy in that store. I love your style, Susan. Thanks for sharing your finds.

  16. I love all 3 looks on you. Your styling rocks and is a fun and attractive change from jeans. The navy and mustard combo works well, although mustard is not in my palette. If you have insights about lower price points, I’d be interested. These are really expensive, and as far as I could tell, Ruti has zero interest in sustainability. That, to me, makes Eileen Fisher and Everlane much better choices.

    1. Thanks, Maeve. You can always try finding some of the Eileen Fisher pieces on Poshmark or ThredUP for a more budget-friendly option.

  17. The lantern pants in a ‘flowing’ fabric at ankle length look great on a shorter body but not denim or corduroy. I’m glad you enjoy them Susan but I wouldn’t invest. I have a long torso and short legs (27”inseam) so at 5’1” I’d look like Charlie Chaplin also don’t need any extra fabric to emphasize the stumpiness of my gams.. I must say the navy & mustard is lovely! Unexpected but really lovely!

  18. I think the lantern shape is so fun and adds a little funk! I agree it’s time for a change from your regular” jeans go-to “ as well. The mustard is great fun and I like that they can go fancy with a boot or heel. Jacket might be a challenge but a poncho would work.

  19. I think you hit a home run with those pants. I also like to get out of my comfort zone. I been wearing the balloon pants or barrell pants for a few years. l feel free when I wear them and my high waisted slouchy pants. And I’m,72. Keep us guessing. I enjoy your posts.

  20. Susan I also ordered those cute croc boots from J Crew and then I read the reviews! Yikes. What do you think of the quality?

  21. So much fun! Good to try “wild card pieces” as you call them. All of these outfits look great, but I really love the navy cardi with the mustard. So nice. I doubt lantern pants will look good on me, but you never know until you try them on, right?

  22. Wow! I love this unique shape. I’m also petite and have embraced less flattering more funky shapes. The charcoal is sold out so I ordered the blue (the alternate pair) to give it a try.

    I’ve never tried this brand, and I’m usually a size 4 (size 26 or 27) but ordered the 6 for a slouchier look. Do you feel it fits true to size?

    Thanks for doing the work to find cool things and new brands!

  23. I love these outfits. In fact, so much that I would wear them myself;). A little edgier, more LA and more tomboy than pure Gamine, IMO. Essentially, localizing the look as we used to say in software development!

  24. Love, love the trousers and l three stylings. And I think navy and mustard go together very well. Although I like all three, the first one is my favourite.

  25. I like that style of pant.
    I think I might have them shortened a little bit. I feel like with the fullness it’s good to have a narrowed point with ankle showing, at least if you aren’t wearing a boot.

  26. Hi Susan: I love these pants on you and I think you’ve styled them really nicely! Looking closer at the pants, I see they have a gathered back and back pockets–I think these wouldn’t work for me because of these features. However! I have the lantern pants by EF and like them but wonder if I should have sized down (unclear). My biggest challenge when trying to style these is the shoes! Can you comment on that? Too chunky is clunky (I think). I think a sleek boot might work and maybe some snappy sneakers (like Rag and Bone maybe). What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Sally, it’s hard for me to advise without being in the room and seeing how the pants fit, and what types of shoes you normally wear. I’d suggest trying a variety of styles and see what “clicks” for you. (Sometimes it’s the shoes you’d least expect to work.)

  27. Love the leopard belt w/mustard. Barrel legs might be too fun for me, but have not tried. I love a classic trouser. You have made great outfits!

  28. I’m on the minority here, so take with grain that of s as lt. These could be great if the were longer and not crop.