Strap yourselves in because stirrup pants are back

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In the newsroom we sometimes joke that three examples make a trend (two if it’s a slow news day).

But when it comes to fashion, how is a trend born? When it’s shown on the runways? When street stylers take it up? When Christine Centenera is photographed wearing it?

In the case of the 1980s throwback of the week, the stirrup pant, all three boxes have been ticked.

Tonal and terrific … Christine Centenera at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. Photo: Danielle Castano @ Stylesnooperdan

At Fashion Week Australia, Centenera, the intrepid Vogue Australia fashion editor who has also consulted to the Kardashians, stepped out on fashion week’s hump day in terracotta stirrup pants by Balenciaga, cementing the style’s return as one of the trouser styles for winter. But the trend maker, who is based in New York, was spotted as early as September in a navy version.

Like the Fendi saddle bag and Gucci’s horse bit hardware, the stirrup pant’s origins come from the equestrian world in the 19th century, then became a ski-wear staple in the 1960s.

Fast forward 20 years and women were jazzercising to Jane Fonda in stirrup leggings. After a brief stint in 1990s streetwear, stirrup pants faded away. Until now.

The first sightings of straps for the season was in the fall 2016 for Balenciaga and Marni. Following Demna Gvasalia’s debut collection for Balenciaga, Vogue’s Steff Yotka noted: “To many of us, the pants are a bad relic from our mothers’ wardrobes. One editor said she ‘cried tears of joy’ when her mum said goodbye to stirrups in favour of boot-cut jeans in the ’90s, while another wrote that the ankle-covering shape is universally unflattering.”

If you want to know why stirrup leggings survived the 1980s, blame this woman.

If you want to know why stirrup leggings survived the 1980s, blame this woman.

How to wear them now

Part of the cringeworthiness of the ’80s and ’90s throwbacks comes from how women used to wear stirrup pants – straps on the inside of shoes, sometimes in a checked pattern, often worn with a rhinestone-encrusted denim shirt. 

If you think of the new stirrup pant as part of the unending athleisure trend, it becomes much more digestible. 

The new stirrup pant has straps that are long or stretchy enough to be worn on the outside and has a slightly oversized aesthetic to avoid any ski-pant comparisons.

Coco Chan, head of women’s wear buying at Stylebop.com, believes the new stirrup pant flatters by elongating the leg.

“Thankfully this season’s stirrup pants have stayed on the right side of tasteful by remaining quite simple and understated, with a very deliberate lack of print or embellishment.”

Chan suggests wearing the new styles with a heel, which also makes strap placement easier. For day, she suggests a simple pump, while for evening, take a leaf from Balenciaga’s book and go for an embellished shoe for some added sparkle.

Paco Rabanne has been one of the brands to jump on the stirrup train.

Paco Rabanne has been one of the brands to jump on the stirrup train. Photo: Timur Emek

Buy/hold/sell?

As Simon Cowell would say, it’s a yes from me.

A good cut is key to nailing the new stirrup pants, so either shop in store, or buy from an online retailer with a generous refund policy. 

You’re looking for a snug fit at the waist and calf and a slight bagginess over the abdomen – look at runway photos for a reference – but you will feel the temptation to constantly hoik up your pants, it’s just par for the course.

The cut of the new style stirrup pants, such as these ones from Balenciaga, can feel awkward at first.

The cut of the new style stirrup pants, such as these ones from Balenciaga, can feel awkward at first. Photo: Vanni Bassetti

Given the trend may not be around for more than two seasons, maybe opt for a style that has detachable straps, such as Scanlan and Theodore’s scuba version in navy or black. 

Chan also points to Nina Ricci’s style in Ikea bag blue if you’re chasing a little more colour and don’t mind making a more hefty investment. 

“[Designer] Guillaume Henry … has probably put out the best version this season – strong colour, a flattering fit, and a chic nod to athleisure with that racing stripe. Maximum leg lengthening points,” she says.

Three of the best

Nina Ricci at STYLEBOP.COM, $961 (approx).

Nina Ricci at STYLEBOP.COM, $961 (approx).

Boohoo, $20.

Boohoo, $20.

Viktoria and Woods, $259.

Viktoria and Woods, $259.

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