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, fall is ushering in a fresh version for you to love: stirrup leggings and pants. Yes, indeed, the iconic ’80s silhouette has made a triumphant return, and it’s no surprise. With just about every nostalgic trend circulating back to the forefront — corset tops, bucket hats, and sheer shades being a few buzzy examples — it was only a matter of time before stirrups returned, too.
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 smarter 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,” Brittney Rothweiler, co-founder of The Range, which she owns with her sister, Mia. Of course, new-season versions are updated for 2021, coming in more lux fabrics and materials beyond basic black. Plus, trouser and jumpsuit versions have arrived as a more polished alternative for leggings 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 at Ba&sh, also celebrates the return. “We’re obsessed with stirrup pants right now,” she says. “They’re comfortable, chic, and surprisingly versatile.” Deeming them “a must-have this season for an instantly fashion-forward ensemble,” Yuan explains that styling them with tailored tops and trendy accessories is the key to mastering the look. However, vintage references are part of the fun — think strong blazers and pointed pumps for playful polish. When the mood is relaxed, oversize sweaters and flats offer ease to the power pant, while voluminous tops and chunky jewelry are spot-on for occasions and evenings out.
Convinced to try stirrup leggings or pants? Keep scrolling to discover five fresh-for-fall outfits worthy of a spot in your lineup.
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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.
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 Bolder Statement
Whether for work or an event, a stirrup jumpsuit makes a bold statement on its own — to keep yours in focus, style with minimal heels, a sleek bag, and polished earrings.
“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.
All Out ’80s
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 totally ’80s but streamlined to suit a 2021 event.