the jess edit

How to Style Parachute Pants

Photo: Clément Pascal

For more of the Cut’s favorite fashion, beauty, and home finds, sign up for the weekly Cut Shop Newsletter.

As much as we love the warmer weather, dressing for summer can still be a challenge. What can you wear that’s not too hot but also still chic? Before you grab another pair of cutoff shorts consider the Cut’s fashion director, Jessica Willis’s pick: parachute pants.

This week we get nostalgic as Willis breaks down how to style the oversize pant and how to embrace the Y2K style the modern way. With a few key elements, she’s created a look that draws from her three key style words: timeless, functional, and edgy. Here’s the anatomy of the outfit.


Start With a Hero Piece: Parachute Pants

The main character is Dion Lee’s airy parachute pants. In a blend of cotton and nylon, these keep you breezy and also look really cool. “They’re comfortable and casual but still a look,” Willis explains.

With contrast stitching and an exaggerated silhouette, they’re an elevated version of the zip-off cargo pants you wore as a teen. The key pieces here are the toggles at the waist and cuffs that make these pants fully adjustable for a higher-rise or lower fit depending on how you feel. No matter what, you have plenty of space in these pants. You can adjust the drawstrings and wear them wide and flared but to really embrace the “parachute” part of the pants by adjusting the drawstrings so that they just graze your ankles.


Create balance with skin-tight silhouettes

Lean into the 2000s-inspired shape of the pants by balancing it with an even smaller top. “I love to play with proportions and have these parachute pants paired with something skin-tight like a body suit to accentuate the shape of the pants,” Willis explains.

Her pick, Nensi Dojaka’s lingerie-as-outerwear bodysuit that hugs the body. The mix of gauzy, sheer fabrics and cut-outs add interest and texture so you can pare down the accessories.


Add a shoe that’s not too casual

Tie the look together with the grown-up version of those foam platforms you loved as a teen. These flip flops from the Row are Y2K but chic, Willis explains and like the pants they’re comfortable without being too casual. With a leather and suede exterior and a slightly square silhouette, you can dress these up or down. You could even add a little pointy kitten heel or platform sandal. Whatever you do, resist the urge to pair these pants with sneakers, that is how this outfit goes from grown and sexy to sloppy, real quick.


Because of the neckline, skip jewelry

You don’t want to load up this look with too much jewelry. Some close-to-the-ear earrings are fine, but nothing that will draw too much attention away from the neckline and silhouette of the pants. Let the simplicity of this look speak for itself, without adding on more.

Get the Look

Here are five pairs of parachute pants to wear this summer.

Venture slightly out of your comfort zone with this gray pair. While the pants are high-rise the adjustable drawstring at the waistband and cuffs make them pretty customizable. They’re also wrinkle resistant.

If you’d like to opt for all black, consider a pair that adds some texture like these from MISBHV with a subtly embroidered logo detail across the front.

If you have enough all-black looks, this muted green pair is the perfect way to add some color. With a similar silhouette, lots of pockets and adjustable toggles, it’s just as versatile as a neutral.

Again, even more texture and interest. This pair from Wardrobe.NYC is lined with pockets. While the cuffs aren’t adjustable the tapered leg is perfect for showing off your shoes.

Big pants with even bigger pockets. This pink pair from Collina Strada isn’t as adjustable but with all these extra details they are twice as fun.

How to Style Parachute Pants