Stop—it’s hammer time.
Or actually, it’s harem time. The baggy, drop-crotch, parachute-style pants made memorable by MC Hammer (or, if we’re mining the ’90s, Aladdin) are back—only this time, the pleats are smaller, the cut is more fitted, and the whole look is shockingly flattering. And perhaps most importantly, harem pants are not only super functional when you’re mid-grapevine at dance cardio class, but also a little less form-fitting than your go-to run tights (in other words, you won’t feel the need to tie a sweatshirt around your waist while you run errands after).
“The appeal of a harem pant as part of a workout look is comfort first and foremost. Because they’re loose and unstructured, there’s no risk of muffin top or camel toe. They’re very forgiving and easy to move in, ideal for yoga practice, barre class, or dance cardio,” explains New York City stylist, former magazine fashion director, and harem pant champion Audrey Slater.
Which might explain why Courtney Deri, yoga instructor at Y7 (beloved as much for its beat-driven asanas as it is for its insanely stylish, cutting-edge clientele), considers them a workout staple. “They are a fun, flowy pant to practice in when I don’t feel like putting on those skin-tight yoga pants—and they’re great to throw on for a casual, comfortable day out.”
But they’re not for everyone—workout-wise, that is. “No hot [yoga] classes, since the extra fabric can be suffocating,” advises Deri. Slater agrees that there are some limitations: “Definitely not a cycling or rowing class, where your clothes need to fit close to the body.”
As for what you wear with them, the key is counterbalancing “the volume of the pant with something sleek and sexy on top,” says Slater. Think a cropped tank or strappy bra top (two other major fitness trends you’ve likely already stocked up on).
Outside the studio, the balancing act still holds true. As Slater notes, “Harem pants need to be paired with pieces that have structure and classic simplicity: A cropped moto jacket with a little striped tee underneath looks chic and fashion-forward—[and] it’s flattering on everyone.”
Her one major harem pant no-no? Pairing them with heels. “Flats are mandatory here! Heels will throw the whole thing off.” Got your Nike LunarEpics ready?
Scroll through for 6 stylish, sweat-ready harem pants.
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