Putting the debate of whether or not leggings count as pants aside, it’s undeniable that stretchy bottoms are a pillar in most wardrobes. Where and how you wear them can be grounds for more discussion — layered under a roomy sweatshirt, anchoring a knee-grazing cardigan, or teamed with a button-down and flats being a few fail-safe formulas. But if you’re at all a fan, the fashion world has another slant on the silhouette to love: stirrup leggings and pants. Yes, indeed, the iconic ’80s design has triumphantly return, and it’s no surprise. With just about every nostalgic trend circulating back to the forefront — corset tops, bucket hats, and sheer dresses being a few buzzy examples — it makes sense that retro stirrups suddenly feel fresh.
With practical origins, stirrup pants came about to keep bottoms sturdily in place during activities like horseback riding, skiing, or the peak ’80s exercise modality of aerobics. But along the way, they showed up in the mix with workwear staples like oversize blazers, blouses, and shirting. In addition, they were often belted and looped over various shoe styles, from pumps to heeled boots and loafers.
“I love the resurgence of the stirrup, and we happily have one in our collection,” says Brittney Rothweiler, co-founder of The Range (which she owns with her sister, Mia). Of course, in the year of 2022, the style comes in luxurious fabrics and colors beyond basic black. Plus, trouser and jumpsuit versions have arrived as a more polished alternative for athleisure naysayers. Rothweiler notes that it “adds nostalgia along with an edginess ... a boldness to reinvent a piece that for so long had been banished.”
Irene Yuan, vice president of marketing of cool French girl label Ba&sh, also celebrates the return. “We’re obsessed with stirrup pants,” she says. “They’re comfortable, chic, and surprisingly versatile.” Yuan explains that styling them with tailored tops and of-the-moment accessories is the key to mastering the look. However, adding a few well-placed vintage references is also part of the fun — for instance, strong blazers and pointed pumps to create a playfully polish aesthetic. Going for something more relaxed? Opt for oversize sweaters and flats offer instead. Meanwhile, voluminous tops and chunky jewelry are spot-on for occasions and evenings out.
Keep scrolling to discover seven stirrup outfits — plus a few styling tips — worth putting in rotation.
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Play With Proportions
Nothing screams more ‘80s than a big shoulder jacket and stirrup leggings. However, the updated take calls for a streamlined silhouette with minimal to no flashy hardware or details. Add a pop of color, like a cherry red tote, for a high-impact look.
Pretty In Prints
Get playful and experiment with leggings in a playful print. Add a bright bag to make the look pop.
Experiment with different textures by pairing the stretchy stirrups with crinkled velvet and smooth satin for a multidimensional look. Tie it all together by selecting one color for the different materials, like a rich blue as pictured here.
Whether for work or an event, striking stirrup trousers make a bold statement on their own — to keep yours in focus, style with minimal heels, a sleek bag, and polished earrings.
Relaxed On The Weekend
For a relaxed vibe, Yuan tells TZR, “Throw on with an oversized sweater and flats for weekend style.” Between errands and meetups with friends, a large carryall is the ultimate finish. Or, for more of a streetwear vibe, try a sporty anorak layered over a hoodie.
For a feminine spin, team a pair of stirrup leggings with a ruched top and heeled boots. With doorknocker earrings to complete the look, the effect reads slightly ’80s but streamlined to suit a 2022 event.
Polished For Work
“Pair with a tweed blazer and over pumps for back-to-work polish,” says Yuan. To keep things easy, style a white T-shirt as your base.
“Style [a pair of stirrups] with an oversized top or blazer for instant street cred,” says Rothweiler. For a back-to-school vibe, accessorize with chunky loafers and socks.
For a cool-but-sporty touch try styling leggings with a fleece jacket. To keep the look elevated, add heels or cool chunky boots and finish with oversized sunglasses.
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