Fashion vernacular: Palazzo pants are long women’s trousers cut with a loose, extremely wide leg that flares out from the knee.

Fashion history: Originally seen worn by fearless women like Coco Chanel in the roaring 20s, and later by avant garde actress Katharine Hepburn in the 30s, palazzo pants first became popular during the 1960s.  Some upscale restaurants resisted modern fashion trends by refusing to admit women wearing trousers, which were considered inappropriate by some proprietors.

Palazzo style trousers (1920s)

This posed a problem for women who did not want to wear the skirt styles that were then in fashion. Some women opted to circumvent restaurant bans on women in pants by wearing the palazzo trouser.


By the late 1960’s the counter culture movement adopted the looser more comfortable flared pant going so far as to buy naval uniforms from surplus stores to embellish with stitching and patches.

The 1980’s introduced the power suit for women which included the palazzo pant created by high end designers such as Giorgio Armani and Donna Karen. The style has gone through a number of reinventions over the past 35 years including most recently by Balmain Paris for Spring 2016.

Lupita Nyong’o in Balmain SS16 on the Late Night With Seth Meyers talk show

Other names for palazzo style trousers: culottes, bell bottoms, and flared leg.

Palazzo Pants, Oscar de la Renta
Posted by:Nichelle Cole

Nichelle Cole is the founder & creative director of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

8 replies on “Fashion History: The Palazzo Pant

  1. My grandmother used to make my mothers shorts which she called culottes. They were elastic in the waste and then loose shorts that came down very loose to the knee.

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