A Guide to Finding Pants That Fit

Know Your Body Shape to Find the Best Pants Cut

The only real way to know what pants look best with your body shape is to lock yourself in a dressing room and try them all, but there are some guidelines to help narrow down your prospects. Classic styles like trousers and boot cuts flatter most figures, so it's just a matter of finding the brands whose cuts you like the most. Loose styles like cargo pants and boyfriend jeans are great for balancing out an athletic figure with wider shoulders and narrow hips, while wide legged styles help balance out a body that is heavier on top and smaller on the bottom. Plus-sized figures benefit from pants with a little bit of stretch in them, especially in the waistband area. Cropped pants look good on most body shapes as long as you find the right length for your height -- tall women can wear a mid-calf length well, while shorter women benefit from a cropped leg that's a little longer. And if you have a straight figure, count your blessings because you can pull off most styles.

Trendier styles that wow on the catwalk can be a little tricky for the rest of us common folks, who have to work around boring problem areas like saddle bags and cankles. Skinny jeans and leggings are in like Flynn, but they typically look best on hourglass figures with slim legs. If you're heavier in the thigh area, you can always find a long shirt or sweater to cover up your bulky spots, but if your calves are more Popeye than Olive Oyl, you're probably better off skipping this style. High-waisted pants that were hot in the 1970's and looked fabulous on the Charlie's Angels girls and their slim silhouettes have made a comeback, but as we all learned from the Jessica Simpson's unfortunate photos, they don't particularly work on curvier body types. In fact, they're really not right for most. If you don't fall into the small percentage of women with slim waists, narrow hips and legs for days, you're probably better off sticking with more traditional cuts of pants.