Like most women who love clothes, I like to keep up with trends. I like to know what’s in and what’s out, and whether what’s in or out will ultimately have any effect on my wardrobe. I like to look polished, pulled together, and current, but I don’t usually like to go off the deep end when it comes to trends. Especially if it means spending money on something that might look dated next season. But shopping my closet for pieces I can recombine, or re-purpose to replicate a trend that I like. Dipping my toe in the water, so to speak. Maybe even wading in a little. Well, I’m all over that.
The dress over pants (or trousers for you Brits) trend isn’t new. It’s been around off and on for ages. In one shape or another, one era or another, or one culture or another. I love this gold and red confection from the fifties. I can’t say that I’d wear the skirt and pants… bit too dramatic for me. But those gold, kitten heel pumps would suit me just fine.
Skirt over pants in the fifties

In my research, I found articles from each of the last three years exhorting readers to dive into the dress over pants trend. I read articles that show us how to do it, why we should do it, and who else is doing it. And I found lots and lots of examples. Some of the outfits are…uh…okay. But not for me. The off the shoulder look is one trend that I haven’t embraced. Not at all. That sleeveless tuxedo dress with leggings, from this blog, is more my style.


Yep, it seems this trend is everywhere, on the runways, and on the street. I love the look of that long tunic and slim pants from The Row, on the right. But since I don’t own anything resembling that tunic, and I’m not going to buy one anytime soon, I’ll settle for just admiring.

Image Sources: herehere, and here

But I do own a dress that might work over slim pants. My Rag and Bone “Luna” dress, which I bought last spring, looks quite good with my Paige high-rise skinny jeans, and my flat sandals. I like this look for shopping or out for lunch, if and when the weather cools down a bit. Maybe next week? I’m meeting a young, former colleague for lunch and shopping. She’s heading back to the classroom in a couple of weeks, after a year on maternity leave. A new work wardrobe is required. This is the best kind of shopping. Helping someone else spend their money.

Rag and Bone dress over Paige high rise skinny jeans, with Michael Kors sandals, and Kate Spade bag
When I rummage in my closet, I see that my Rag and Bone dress is exactly the same shade of navy as my new Veronica Beard cropped pants. In fact these pants look like they were made to go with the dress. I love this outfit with my Munro sandals. I’d wear this out to dinner and feel fabulous. Covered, comfortable, pulled together, and a bit trendy all at the same time.
Rag and Bone "Luna" dress over Veronica Beard "Scuba" pants with Munro sandals, Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and earrings
And maybe in September, when the weather is cooler still, I can swap the summer sandals for these wedge espadrilles that I’ve had for eons. Add my Marc Jacobs bag from last year. And maybe even, on a cool evening, this pretty scarf that I bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale in July. The burgundy accessories take this outfit from summer to fall, I think.
      Rag and Bone "Luna" dress over Veronica Beard "Scuba" pants, with Marc Jacobs bag, Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and earrings, sandals vintage
Rag and Bone "Luna" dress over Veronica Beard "Scuba" pants, with Marc Jacobs bag, scarf from Nordstrom, Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and earrings, sandals vintage
Sigh. There’s not much that gives me more satisfaction than being able to dip my toes in a new trend without dipping into my bank account. Especially when it allows me to haul out something that I’ve been hanging onto, but haven’t worn in ages… like my old espadrilles. Despite the size of my closet, and the fact that it’s now “curated” and “capsulized”… I’m always reluctant to consign or donate shoes. I’m such a hard fit. So when I find a pair that I like, which fit, I usually wear them to death and have to throw them out eventually. But if they become dated, and are still in good shape, I just pack them away until the day when they come back in style. Or until I need a pair of shoes in just that style, or colour, or with that heel height. But we live in a small house with limited storage so…. I know that one of these days I am going to have to weed out my shoes and boots. One of these days. Just not yet.
So that’s my trendy story. How I dipped my toe in the dress over pants trend. Even waded in a bit. Not going off the deep end. Not drowning in trendiness, or buying something new just to enable me to participate in the trend. But shopping my closet instead. I bought the dress in the spring because I was looking for… a dress. Similarly the cropped pants…. which I bought because I had cropped pants, not jeans, on my list for fall. The fact that they look good together is a bonus.
Now… I have to go and weed out my fall and winter sweaters and jackets. And see if there is anything I want to take to my friend Fiona’s consignment shop tomorrow.
How about you my friends? Do you go off the deep end when it comes to trends? Somehow I doubt it. You’re all way too sensible for that. I’m sure you’re in the shallow end with me… wading, not drowning.
Apologies to poet Stevie Smith for the very bad English teacher joke. You can find the original, not misquoted, version of her famous poem here.


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46 thoughts on “Dipping My Toe in the Dress Over Pants Trend”

  1. Your tall, lean, leggy figure suits this trend very well. I think you would also suit that Mary Tyler Moore look when she portrayed Laura Petry in the Dick Van Dyke show, or Audry Hepburn. Those ladies knew how to wear a slim pant! (Don't know if they ever wore a dress over them or not). -Jenn

    1. Thanks, Jenn. I remember Mary Tyler Moore as Laura. Loved her flats and cropped leggings (although I'm sure they called them by another name then, and the sweaters.

  2. Oh, how pretty all these looks are on you! I'm a wader like you when it comes to trends. I like how all of your looks kept the basics of the dress/tunic and pants and changed with the additions of different shoes, handbags and scarf. Great ideas!

  3. Chuckled as soon as I saw your Wading not Drowning paraphrase — ah, we English teachers, what a fun bunch we are, right?!
    You interpret this trend beautifully to make it suit you — no compromise to your own style, no sense that you've become a slave to, or victim of, Fashion.

    And yes, I've played around a bit with this dress-over-pants thing, but it's something that a woman of my height and solidity needs to handle with care. I did recently wear a flutteringly-like silk shirtdress over my white jeans and loved the summeriness of it. . . Isn't it fun to still enjoy this much play with our wardrobes at this stage of our lives? Not sure I would have expected this if I'd ever bothered to imagine myself at such an exalted age when I was, say, 20 or 25. . . .

    1. Oh… I knew you would get that right away. I thought of it when I was in the bath and chuckled to myself.
      When I was twenty I couldn't even imagine that I would ever be sixty… let alone that I'd still be messing around with fashion… as "such an exhalted age." You're right, it IS fun.

  4. I've been a dress, or tunic, over pants gal for ages! It all started in France about ten years ago. Such cute, diaphanous short dresses over tight pants or leggings: I couldn't resist! And so it started. I love leggings, and I love cropped pants, so the tunic over these was a natural. Cos stores have some great dress/tunics. Another added bonus to this look is that it travels very well! So easy to change out and especially with light weight fabrics. Nice post!!!

  5. I love this trend, but having been dress-averse for so many years, have some catching up to do. I really like this look on you! My favorite is the first one, that mixes up levels of formality. That feels fun and fresh to me right now.

    1. Thanks, Sue. I'm a bit "dress adverse" myself. Until I find one I like and then I can't imagine why I haven't been wearing them more often.

  6. Coincidently I wore a dress over fitted cropped trousers just a few days ago…and it was from Cos,Libby. It's mainly navy silk with some white. I wore it with fitted white cropped trousers but thought I'd also be able to wear it with navy.I felt great (my son said pretty and understated!) so I'm hoping to wear it a lot! I love how you've styled your dress and trouser looks, Sue. Especially the one with burgundy accessories…I like how the scarf drapes.
    I've always thought I'd like some sort of long tunic and trouser combination for my daughter's wedding but as yet haven't seen anything that inspires! Also, as they're hoping for an outdoor ceremony and it will hopefully be hot and sunny, I need to consider that as well. Any advice from you or your readers would be appreciated!
    Hope you're having a good week ..We're in The Hague,Holland at the moment.Such a beautiful city and nearly as hot as Ottawa was!

    1. I'll bet the white pants with the navy and white dress looked great, Rosie. The long tunic and pants sounds like a lovely (non-traditional) mother-of-the-bride look. I don't envy you shopping for that event. Maybe where you live there's more choice… but if I had an event like that I'd head straight out to Montreal to shop. Not many dressy options here in Ottawa, especially now that Holt Renfrew has closed.
      You guys are definitely getting your share of travel this summer:)

  7. ps I'm just like you re shoes. I was thrilled ..and surprised! to see backless loafers on trend again as I have a black and a neutral pair that are almost like new!

  8. My daughter and I have been wearing dresses over pants for years, I'm glad the fashion world finally caught up to us. 🙂 All kidding aside, our reason for doing this was that we could never find shirts long enough to wear over leggings or skinny jeans, but there were always plenty of short dresses available so we would wear those. Someone would always say "I love your shirt, I can never find long shirts" and then I would tell them it was a dress and they'd be surprised. You look great in this outfit. It definitely works for you too!

  9. I often don't like dresses worn like this , something about the proportions on most people doesn't appeal to me . Nor do I like very long sleeveless jackets or cardigans but that's just me . You look good though – I especially like the burgundy mix . I tend to hoard comfortable shoes too , then manage to ditch them just before they become fashionable again !
    Wendy in York

    1. Oh… don't you hate that. A couple of times I've donated something, forgotten that I'd done so, and then gone looking for it. That should teach us not to get too zealous with the culling.

  10. Love all these looks on you especially the burgundy and navy. Lots of inspiration here. Like you I have narrow feet and hoard shoes for years and then bring them out again. Shoes that fit are so hard to find and it appears that narrow fittings are disappearing.

    1. Thanks, Christy. I haven't seen a narrow fit shoe for years…and I always ask. So I have to be satisfied with certain brands which have a medium width that's more narrow than others. Stuart Weitzman always fits me very well. Sometimes more expensive than I want to pay, though.

  11. Dresses or skirts over pants or leggings. Can be fabulous and these photos of you are super great! I have tried it, but there is a Very Deep Memory that I believe colors how I feel when I have, say, a tunic over leggings.

    When I was little, think the 1950s, we walked to school. It was 3/4 mile. My family like most had one car, which Dad took to work. Everyone always walked, and no one thought anything of it. Even in the rain, or snow. So. The Memory. Girls were required to wear skirts or dreses to school. No exceptions. Thus von wet or cold mornings on went the dress, probably a gathered or pleated skirt, little cropped sleeves. Under it, on went the pants, snow pants in winter. Rain boots. Awkward. Don't try to run. Cumbersome. Uncomfortable. Ugly. Awkward.

    Fast forward 60ish years. Lightweight tunic over leggings and stylish shoes. And I feel like ….?! Ha

    1. P.S. Ugh and apologies, I don't know what I did but that posted three times, so I deleted two. Perhaps you could permanently delete them.

    2. Funny you should mention that, Suze. When I was writing this post, I was thinking that might be a reason why I've avoided this trend… besides the fact that I didn't own a suitable dress until the spring. It sooo puts me in mind of elementary school when we were not allowed to wear pants to school, and like you, in the winter, we wore bulky ski pants under our dresses and our bulky parkas on top.

    3. When I read the title of this post I immediately thought of snow pants worn under dresses for the walk to school. Susan I'm glad to see you've put a completely different spin on it and created a much more desirable look!

    4. Maybe it's a generational thing…the generation before we were allowed to wear jeans to school. I still remember the first day I wore jeans in junior high!

  12. Love the look, Sue! I wonder if some of these outfits would be as flattering on me as they are on you. Hard to get a sense….can you please share how tall you are? Thanks!

    1. Was it Lucy who used to wear the full skirt over skinny pants? I tried searching for several actresses of the fifties because I had an image in my head of someone (couldn't put my finger on who) wearing just such an outfit. I thought it might be Grace Kelly, or Liz Taylor… but maybe it was Lucille Ball.

    2. Barbie! 'Dinner at Eight'…the first thing I thought of when I saw the pic at the top. (Of course I did not remember the name of the outfit. Even I was not that obsessed with my Barbies.)

    3. You are right, Georgia! I remember that Barbie outfit, now. It was the picture on the cover of my black plastic Barbie carrying case when I was nine or ten. I can't remember the name of the outfit either…because of course I was not that obsessed either:) I gave that case and all my old Barbies and clothes to my niece a few years ago when we emptied my old room at the farmhouse. They were definitely "vintage" by then.

  13. I like your interpretation of this look! I do not tend to be trendy, and even if I were, I'd have to pass on this one. I am shorter and considerably rounder than you are, and it just wouldn't work for me.

    I was interested, though, to hear that you are not quite 5'8". I would have added a few inches to that based on your photos — must be those long legs! :o)

    Denise L.

    1. Thanks, Denise. You're correct it's the proportion of legs (75%) to torso (25%) that makes me look taller. I'm built exactly like my grandfather, my mum, all my uncles, etc etc. As my husband says, we all have "high hips."

  14. I really like your version, Susan! I tried this about a year ago with a Karina dress over slim jeans, and my husband, upon seeing me, said Whoa! you forgot to take off your pants! So I have been shy to re-try. You have inspired me. xox


  15. I'm definitely in the shallow end with you! I like the dress over pants look, but I haven't tried it myself and I definitely won't be shopping for it. Perhaps it's time to dig through my closet and see if I can come up with something that works.

    1. Thanks, Anna. Some trends I jump on early… but ones that seem too gimmicky to me…like this one did at first… I wait … and sometimes never adopt at all.

  16. It's a good look as long as the jeans are narrow. Sort of freeing. Mind you, this has been worn for years and years by women in the Indian community. No wonder: comfortable and modest. If, like me, you hate wearing tights, it's a win.

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