Differences Between Palazzo Pants & Wide-Leg Pants

By Melissa McKee

"When is a palazzo pant not just a wide trouser? Well the clue, as so often is in fashion, is in the name," says Jess Cartner-Morley in "The Guardian." "Palazzo" is Italian for palace, and according to Cartner-Morley, "the palazzo pant evokes the grandeur of [vacationing] at a palace." Fit and fabric are the two key characteristics that differentiate palazzos from wide-leg pants.

Woman in palazzo pants
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The palazzo style works best with minimal accessories.

Differences in Fit

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Wide-leg pants are often a more structured fit.

Palazzo pants are a specific type of wide-leg pant, with their own characteristics. Wide-leg pants are relaxed fit, generally straight cut from thigh to ankle, but the fit of palazzo pants is more generous. Cut to flare at the waist, palazzo pants are extremely wide throughout the leg. The generous cut can make them appear to be a loose-fitting maxi skirt. The long, loose cut is a distinctive characteristic of palazzo pants.

Differences in Fabric

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Billowy and delicate, palazzo pants evoke a sense of romance.

Fabric choice is a tell-tale difference between palazzo pants and wide-leg pants. A lightweight fabric is a distinctive element of palazzo. Often made of silk, chiffon or cotton, palazzos resemble pajama bottoms.

In contrast, wide-leg pants can be made from a variety of fabrics, from cotton to linen to tweed. The diversity of fabrics allows wide-leg pants to be worn throughout the seasons, while palazzo pants are best suited for warm weather.

When to Wear

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Lightweight and chic, palazzo pants are the ideal pants to wear in warm weather.

Wide-leg pants are a versatile style pant that can be worn for any occasion during any season, depending on the fabric. From casual to dressy, wide-leg pants can be a staple in any wardrobe. Palazzo pants are less flexible. While they can be worn from day to night, palazzos are best in spring to late summer.


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Layering with a cardigan is a smart choice for cooler weather.

Since palazzos add volume to the bottom half of a woman's figure, it's best to couple them with a cropped, slim-fitting top. Tank tops and halter tops are excellent choices that will keep the spotlight on the pants. Alternatively, pairing palazzos with an equally billowy blouse will enhance the romantic factor. For shoes, consider gladiator flats or corked wedges. Adding a chunky beaded necklace and clutch purse will complement the look.

Wide-leg pants lend themselves to far greater options when pairing with a top and accessories. Consider blazers, button-down shirts and chunky heels when creating an ensemble with wide-leg pants.