Skip to content

When did everyone stop wearing trousers? How the ‘no-pants’ trend took over

Ladies, leave your trousers at home. Celebrities and designers have officially declared the no-pants trend the season's most coveted look.

The disappearance of pants from the streets and runways happened gradually. First came the bike short boom. Then sweatpants reigned supreme during the pandemic. When the girlies started going out again, pleated skirts and micro minis were all the rage. And last year baggy, borderline ill-fitting denim had a brief moment in the sun.

But somewhere along the way, we stopped wearing pants except in the most billowing and forgiving of forms—trousers that pool around around the body instead of clinging to it; pants so oversized that brands used words like “balloon” and “parachute” to describe the silhouette; trousers that in no way resemble trousers as we previously knew them. And now, with the likes of Prada, Prabal Gurung, Chanel, and Christian Siriano sending intentionally half-dressed models down the catwalk in sheer tights, barely-there tap shorts, exposed panties, and bare legs, it seems pants may be headed for mass extinction.

Underwear-as-outerwear has a cyclical resurgence at least once every decade. But this year's iteration of pants-optional dressing can be traced back to a handful of pivotal fashion moments.

Few have done more to advance the cause of leg liberation than Hailey Bieber, who's been skipping pants since 2017 at least. Sure, Beyoncé and Rihanna continue to wear it better. And if this fall 2023 look from Dion Lee could talk, it would beg to be worn by Sweetener-era Ariana Grande: the salad days of lampshading, before it became more meme than trend.

But it must be gratifying for Mrs. Bieber, the trend's most faithful follower, to see pantlessness make a comeback. Sometime in 2019, when the rest of us dubbed the look cringe and promptly moved on, Hailey held on for dear life. Whether she's posing for an editorial, starring in a campaign, stomping around New York in the middle of winter, or casually meeting up with her pop star husband in Los Angeles, Hailey is still—more often than not—giving gams. The capsule collection of “staple pieces” she designed with Wardrobe.NYC last year confirms her stance on stifling buttons and zippers: Respectfully, no.

Stylist Dani Michelle is the mastermind behind Bieber's latest and greatest forays into pantslessness. And she just so happens to be responsible for Kendall Jenner's adoption of the trend too. Amid her latest breakup with NBA star Devin Booker, the freshly single model went viral for leaving a shoot in nothing but sheer Calzedonia revenge tights and a navy blue Bottega Veneta sweater—an ensemble plucked straight off the label's runway. Michelle also styled Jenner in a pair of bright blue Wolford x Mugler tights for a FWRD campaign that debuted a month later.

At Paris Fashion Week, Kylie Jenner blurred the line between underwear and outerwear even further in head-to-toe Loewe, featuring a pair of Y-front, menswear-inspired tighty whiteys worn over sheer tights and a long gray coat thrown on top.

Bella Hadid eating her daily slice of pizza in a Carrie Bradshaw-coded casual slay comprised of delicate white briefs and ultra mini platform Uggs was nothing short of a cultural reset on TikTok, instantly legitimising the no-pants trend’s street style potential.

Image: @trend_moabom

Nepo baby influencers aside, plenty of other celebrities have made notable contributions to the no-pants renaissance. Julia Fox wore an Alexander Wang underwear set to go grocery shopping—the street style equivalent of the 2021 Met Gala look Wang designed for K-pop idol CL. At Jonathan Simkhai, Emily Ratajkowski closed the show sans pants in a boxy blazer and combat boots. At Coach, Camila Mendes was “not not cold” in a black bra and briefs topped only by an oversized leather jacket and chunky loafers. Tracee Ellis Ross tried out the tights-as-pants look in a sheer, polka-dot pair. Perennial style icon Katie Holmes let her bikini briefs and over-the-knee boots peek through a long trench coat.

On TikTok, there's a question creators love to pose about influencers and the algorithmically informed clothing they tend to gravitate towards: Is it fashion or is she just skinny? Teen Vogue editorial assistant Aiyana Ishmael tackles this very question in her bimonthly style series CTRL+C in which she copies celebrities' most talked-about 'fits to test whether they can be easily recreated on a plus-size body using the best plus-size clothing alternatives.

Having nailed Bella Hadid's sporty weird girl style (including her polarising UGGS and undies getup) last month, Ishmael devoted this month's edition to Hailey Bieber. At one point, while trying to replicate Bieber's pleated micro hemline moment, the search for a suitable miniskirt proved particularly time-consuming. “It reminded me of how maternal plus-size clothes like to be,” Ishmael observes. “When attempting to find something short and skimpy like Hailey's, I could only see pieces in my size that wouldn't break my high school's dress code.” But there's power in co-opting fashion trends that privilege thinness (and, in doing so, laying to rest the belief that certain looks only “work” for certain body types). “After walking around the office, many of my coworkers and colleagues agreed that this look is, in fact, my look,” Ishmael adds. “So sorry, Hailey, but I might need to claim this as my own.”

The no-pants trend is smug, impractical fashion at its finest. But it's also a delicious opportunity to set your trousers aside for a season or two and explore the outer limits of acceptability. Wear lingerie to brunch. Meet the parents in an outfit that's really just a jacket. Walk your dog in sheer tights. Take the trend and run with it. You're not wearing pants, so there's nothing left to lose.

This article originally appeared on GLAMOUR US.

Share this article: