How Do I Choose the Best Stirrup Pants?

Jamie Nedderman

When choosing the best stirrup pants for you, you should consider your specific purpose for the buy. Information on stirrup pants is rare since their decline in popularity from the 1980s, however there are some factors than can be taken into consideration when shopping. Differences between retro and modern stirrup pants will determine where you shop and for what styles you look. Personal considerations such as allergies to material and available accessories should also be weighed and a budget determined before shopping online or in a store.

Thick socks might be worn over stirrup pants.
Thick socks might be worn over stirrup pants.

If your goal is to exemplify 1980s retro fashion, then a reminder is in order of what the vintage stirrup pants’ experience consisted. Often made of tight stretchy cotton or knit, a piece of elastic extended from either side of the cuff, and was placed around the bottom of the foot. Typically, a loose sweater or other shirt was worn over the elastic waist, and legwarmers or thick socks covered the bottom cuff. You may find samples of this type in your or a friend’s closet, at a secondhand or thrift store, or a yard sale.

Clothing is usually quite cheap at secondhand stores.
Clothing is usually quite cheap at secondhand stores.

Modern stirrup pants are often made of breathable material and softer foot enclosures. Due to the more lightweight fabric available, the bottoms can ride up, so the stirrup is necessary to keep the outfit from looking sloppy. Conversely, leggings made out of thick material like velvet or denim will require the stirrups to stay attractively in place. Any fabric preferences, allergies, or sensitivities should also be considered, as the design is relatively tight and the material is likely to have contact with most of the surface of your legs. If you do not want the bottom elastic portions visible, consider wearing a pair of boots over the pants, or, if you want to show the bottom, flats are a great choice to feature this pant.

Many options exist to help to determine personal preferences before making a purchase. Paying attention to or personally attending fashion shows may give you a great idea of new trends. Reading online reviews at reputable fashion sites can aid in your determination of stirrup pants quality, although some sites are known to post only positive comments, so caution should be observed.

Cost is normally a factor when determining your perfect stirrup pants choice. Vintage or used pairs found in thrift, secondhand, or vintage clothing stores can be fairly inexpensive, but more popular brands can increase their value. Be sure to balance disposable funds against your preferences; as this is a relatively simple design, you might want to start with an inexpensive pair to make sure this is a style that suits you.

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