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Summer is the season of showing some skin. But, there’s a time and place for miniskirts and cutout summer dresses. When the time comes for something with a bit more coverage, pants are the only way to go. The best summer pants are designed specifically for warm weather; they’re lightweight, breathable and have an ease to them — since getting dressed shouldn’t be something fussy.
“I think that for us, pattern, color and comfort are likely the three non-negotiables for designing a summer pant,” explains Ceylin Bilge, co-founder of Istanbul-based label Siedrés. Don’t be afraid to explore colors and prints that are a bit bolder than what you’d wear the rest of the year. With so much time spent outside in the sun, you need summer pants outfits that are both lighthearted and easy.
What to look for in the best summer pants
Fit: “This summer season, I’ve been obsessing over wide-leg silhouettes and low slung trousers, which go with virtually anything,” explains Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop. “I’m currently swooning over Hailey Bieber’s take on this trend. She’s been spotted rocking Madga Butrym’s silk trousers and styling them with sneakers and slicked back buns. For days when I’m on the go, I keep cargo pants on my radar, specifically styles with large pockets on the side for added versatility, like the Attico pair Rihanna wears.” Over the last year, looser, low-rise styles have come into favor, with many brands debuting cargo cuts as an alternative to old-school skinny jeans. Try a slouchy silhouette that you can pair with a fitted top. “First and foremost, my best advice is to prioritize feeling comfortable and confident,” Maguire adds.
Style: When you’re seeking out lightweight summer pants, you also want to keep the occasion in mind. A black-tie event might require a fitted style in a breathable fabric, while daytime events might warrant a colorful printed option paired back to great staples. “I always wear my colorful, printed pants with a plain white tank top or t-shirt so as to not make it look too costumey,” Bilge says. Maguire agrees with keeping things simple, often opting for a summer trouser for work. “Tailored-yet-relaxed silhouettes or curve-hugging denim is especially complimentary for all figures,” she says. While a sheer or open-weave pant is too revealing for the office, these styles are popular choices for the beach and any outdoor celebrations this summer. You can style them with a bikini, cardigan and heels for a playful, polished look. If you prefer more coverage, try flowy summer pants for evenings.
Fabric: In the midst of summer, breathability is key when it comes to fabric. “We try to use cotton and natural fibers, but it isn’t only about the type of fabric we use,” explains Bilge. “The fabric used also has to complement the cut of the garment.” For the summer collection, we prefer to use flexible fabrics to offer room for stretch, particularly in the pants that are more fitted and accentuate the figure. In the looser fits, we use stiffer fabrics but always make sure the waist band is adjustable to reinforce comfort.” You’ll want to avoid styles that are too clingy, heavy or scratchy — leave wool pants for colder weather. “I steer clear of my wool and cashmere bottoms and keep them at the back of my closet till the fall season,” Maguire says. Instead look for silk, cotton and linen versions, which tend to be more breathable.
Below, shop the 25 best pants for summer — from casual to fancy.
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Top Summer Pants for Women
- Roxy Oceanside Pants
- Best Patterned Pants: Farm Rio Macaw Scarf Pants
- Best Cropped Pants: Amazon Essentials Linen Blend Pants
- Best Patterned, Runner-Up: Rianna + Nina: Geometria Melina Pants
- Best Summer Cargo Pants: Time & True Cargo Pants
- Best Wide-Leg Summer Pants: Ulla Johnson Wilde Pants
- Best Lace Pants: Rotate Bebe Cotton Lace Pants
- Most Versatile Summer Pants: J.Crew Relaxed-Fit Pants
- Best Culottes: Loewe Paul’s Ibiza Culottes
- Best Bright Pants: Jacquemus Meloia Pants
- Best Joggers: Free People Off Shore Joggers
- Best Vintage-Inspired Pants: Paco Rabanne Jacquard Trousers
- Best Summer Pants for Work: Madewell Linen-Blend Track Trousers
- Best Sheer Pants: KNWLS Brown Polyester Trousers
- Also Consider for Work: Rag & Bone Roxie Pants
- Best Cotton Summer Pants: Ganni Cotton Crepe Pants
- Best Value: Chic Classic Elastic Waist Pants
- Best Summer Jeans: R13 Ripped Boyfriend Jeans
- Best Pleated Summer Pants: Pleats Please Issey Miyake Technical Trousers
- Also Consider Best Jeans: Agolde ‘90s Ripped Loose Fit Jeans
- Also Consider Best Patterned Pants: Ephemera Siesta Pants
- Julia Heuer Jack Floral Print Plissé Pants
- Best Knit Pants: Cult Gaia Nevah Pants
- Best White Summer Jeans: Reformation Wilder Jeans
- Best Ribbed Pants: Staud Nash Pants
- Best Silk Pants: Versace Barocco Goddess Pants
Roxy Oceanside Pants
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Colors: Sea Salt, Adriatic Blue, Fig, Indigo, Redwood, Stone, White Palm Shadows, True Black, Dress Blues, Olive, Sunburst, Biscay Bay
“I love these beach pants! Good quality fabric, comfortable and good fit,” writes one reviewer of these light summer linen pants. Roxy’s low-rise design has a loose fit through the leg and flares slightly at the bottom. If you’re one for colorful bottoms, you’re in luck, because this style comes in a range of options from neutral to bright blue. To style, throw on an oversized sweater or top to stay comfortable after a long day at the beach.
Farm Rio Macaw Scarf Pants
Best Patterned Summer Pants
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Color: Red
Brazilian label Farm Rio is beloved for its bold prints and eye-catching colors. So, unsurprisingly, the brand’s take on warm-weather pants is not for the faint of heart. Composed of responsibly-made viscose fibers, the pants are lightweight and breathable. To style them, consider keeping things simple up top with a white tank. And, if you’re feeling bold, finish with the brand’s matching kimono.
Amazon Essentials Linen Blend Pants
Best Cropped Summer Pants
- Sizes: X-small to XX-large
- Colors: Ecru, Black, Blue, White, Dark Olive
These summer linen blend pants from Amazon Essentials are looser through the leg and crop just above the ankle, which is ideal for pairing with minimal shoes. The drawstring waist allows you to adjust the style to your comfort. Throw these on when you have errands to run and finish with a basic T-shirt. “So good I bought a second pair,” writes one Amazon reviewer.
Rianna + Nina: Geometria Melina Pants
Best Patterned, Runner-Up
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Colors: Mikado Blue, Dendro, Kerassi Black, Kerassi White, Krokodilos, Leondari, Mikado Orange
Don’t be afraid to break out the bold prints this summer. These silk pants by Rianna + Nina are not only light and comfy enough to keep you sweat-free, they’re also the star of an outfit. Even if you tend to avoid things that are too over-the-top, summer’s warm weather is the perfect excuse to take things up a notch. Since the style features an oversized print, try pairing it with something that has a smaller, less abstract pattern to offer balance in a playful way.
Time & True Cargo Pants
Best Summer Cargo Pants
- Sizes: 4-16
- Colors: Gray, green, brown
Cargo pants are a major trend this summer, so you’ll want to invest in a pair that’s both comfortable and easy to style. This Time & True silhouette is simple, a great basic piece to build your looks on. Made of 100% cotton, you won’t have to worry about getting too sweaty on warm days. Finish with a pair of white sneakers and try a cropped T-shirt for a fashion-y twist.
Ulla Johnson Wilde Pants
Best Wide-Leg Summer Pants
- Sizes: 00-12
- Color: Cedar
Part utilitarian, part professional, these summer cotton high-rise pants from Ulla Johnson are the perfect transitional option. They’re relaxed but have enough structure to work for the office. The pleated front makes them especially appealing as an alternative to trousers. To style them, keep things cool and office-ready with a light summer sweater that you can tuck in, along with a pair of ankle boots.
Rotate Bebe Cotton Lace Pants
Best Lace Summer Pants
- Sizes: 34-42
- Color: Natural
For the beach or a pool party, you want a pair of lightweight summer pants that can cover up your swimsuit while still letting the cool design peek through. These lace pants by Rotate have a flared silhouette and will highlight both your body and swimwear of choice. Since they’re made of 100% cotton, you don’t have to worry about breathability. Pair them with your favorite party heels, and get ready to hit the sandy dance floor.
J.Crew Relaxed-Fit Pants
Most Versatile Summer Pants
- Sizes: 00-18
- Colors: Chambray, Olive, Animal Print, Stripe, Begonia Pink, Black, Navy, Mustard, White
J.Crew is a brand beloved for its comfy, preppy basics. If that sounds right up your alley, then you’ll want to try these drawstring pants on for size. “They’re great summer pants — lightweight and stylish,” writes one reviewer. To style them, go for an overall preppy-meets-casual look with a light sweater or a button-down up top.
Loewe Paul’s Ibiza Culottes
Best Culottes for Summer
- Sizes: XS-L
- Colors: Baby pink, white
Loewe’s collaborations with Paul’s Ibiza always capture the aesthetic of summer at the beach. These playful pink culottes are made of cotton-poplin, so they’re breathable and airy, ideal for throwing on over a suit. Try styling them with a pair of fashion-forward slides (preferably from Loewe, too). Up top, let your swimsuit show and finish with a comfy cardigan that can take you from the beach to somewhere fun afterwards. It’s the ideal mix of practical and trendy.
Jacquemus Meloia Pants
Best Bright Summer Pants
- Sizes: FR 32-42
- Color: Light green
Who needs green juice when you can slip into these bold green pants from French label Jacquemus? Made from canvas, the style debuted at the designer’s runway show in Hawaii this past spring. The color may feel a bit intense, but styled with the right pieces, you can easily pull it off. Try leaning into the high-octane color by wearing the pants with other green pieces in varying hues. It will help to tone down the look, without taking away the energy.
Free People Off Shore Joggers
Best Joggers for Summer
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Color: Warm Sands
A great pair of summer pants offers versatility. These Free People joggers can be worn loose or cinched at the ankle. Plus, cutout embroidery allows for a breeze to pass through them on warm days. To style, try an all-white outfit complete with a tank to match. Finish with summer sandals, and you’re good to go.
Paco Rabanne Jacquard Trousers
Best Vintage-Inspired Summer Pants
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Color: Orange
Embrace the spirit of the ‘70s with these high-waisted trousers from French label Paco Rabanne. A graphic print and wide-leg silhouette give these a disco-inspired twist, making them ideal for any upcoming summer parties. Their gold sheen also fits evening soiree dress codes and pairs swimmingly with a lacy top and some stellar dancing heels for an elevated look.
Madewell Linen-Blend Track Trousers
Best Summer Pants for Work
- Sizes: XXS-L
- Colors: Faded lavender, black, craft blue
Want a pair of summer work pants that don’t feel too formal or stuffy for the summer months? Try these breathable linen-blend trousers from Madewell. “These pants fit great, hide problem areas, look nice enough for business casual wear and feel like pajamas,” writes one reviewer. This style comes in black or a soft, light blue hue. To style, pair with your favorite work staples like a striped button down.
KNWLS Brown Polyester Trousers
Best Sheer Summer Pants
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Color: Brown
Dare to rock sheer trousers this summer. KNWLS, an on-the-rise British label, makes it easy to do so with these cool, form-fitting pants that can serve as a base layer to your summer look. Try wearing them under a minidress if you don’t want to go for an all-out see-through look, or for a night out when you want to show some skin, try layering them over a bodysuit. Since this piece has a slightly flared leg, you’ll want to finish them with an ankle boot or a sandal with a slight heel.
Rag & Bone Roxie Pants
Also Consider Best Summer Pants for Work
- Sizes: 00-16
- Colors: Sage, dove
In need of a comfy pair of pants for the office? These high-waisted pants from Rag & Bone will fit the bill. The summer linen blend will help keep you cool on your commute. Plus, the straight-leg silhouette is professional and comfortable all at once. To style, wear with a tee and a blazer on top.
Ganni Cotton Crepe Pants
Best Cotton Summer Pants
- Sizes: 32-44
- Color: Fossil
Copenhagen-based brand Ganni is known in the fashion industry for its quirky-cool pieces. So, it’s no surprise their take on the trouser is playful and unique. These relaxed pants in a summer cotton crepe have a low-key, weekend feel to them. Consider them the ideal pants for a summer visit to the farmer’s market and wear them with your coolest tee or sweatshirt to impress in the line for fresh tomatoes.
Chic Classic Elastic Waist Pants
- Sizes: 18-42
- Colors: Khaki Slub Twill, Black Denim, Mid Shade Denim, Dark Shade Denim
If you’re looking for pants that are first and foremost practical, then you’ll want to add this Chic Classic style to your collection. The elastic waist and tapered leg make for an easy, handy combination. The material is a mix of cotton and spandex, so you can expect a comfortable stretch while still having the breathability needed for a hot day. Keep things simple and pair the pants with sneakers and a classic tee.
R13 Ripped Boyfriend Jeans
Best Summer Jeans
- Sizes: 26-30
- Color: Stevie Blue
Distressed denim is a must during summer. While your usual jeans may feel a bit heavy, consider styles with holes and rips a chance for added ventilation. These relaxed R13 jeans will hang comfortably as you go about your day, no fidgeting or fussing needed. Wear them with a light blouse to dress them up a bit.
Pleats Please Issey Miyake Technical Trousers
Best Pleated Summer Pants
- Sizes: 1-5
- Color: Gray
There’s a reason these pleated trousers have been around not just for years, but decades. Issey Miyake’s loose pants will make it feel like you’re leaving the house in pajamas — but feel so much cooler on hot afternoons. The elastic waistband and jersey fabric add to the pajama-y vibe of these flowy summer pants. Styling them in a fancy way is easy, though. Simply pair them with ankle boots and a button-down top. Adding on layered jewelry will also further dress up the look.
Agolde ‘90s Ripped Loose Fit Jeans
Also Consider Best Summer Jeans
- Sizes: 23-32
- Color: Fall Out
The ‘90s are back in style, so if you’re adding new jeans to your roster, start with these. “Love these Agolde jeans,” writes one reviewer. “Ordered for a slouchy jean look and I can’t stop wearing them.” The fit is flattering, with a relaxed cut down the leg. The distressed details make them great for daytime wear. To make them more evening appropriate, try adding a sheer blouse and heels.
Ephemera Siesta Pants
Also Consider Best Patterned Summer Pants
- Sizes: 36-42
- Color: Multi
These Siesta pants from Ephemera aren’t just ideal for nap time. The billowy silhouette is just begging to be worn at the beach. The use of 100% linen means these pants are super lightweight and comfortable. A drawstring waist makes for easy cinching when you’re sliding these over your swimsuit. So, before you head somewhere warm, make sure these pants are in your suitcase.
Julia Heuer Jack Floral Print Plissé Pants
- Size: One size
- Color: Elsa
Warm weather presents the perfect opportunity to get playful with your day-to-day outfits. These bold pants from Julia Heuer are out of the box, in the best way. The plissé fabric is breathable and lightweight, and the vivid print is sure to turn heads. You can style these pants with the matching top for a playful party outfit. Or, if you want to tone things down a bit, wear them with a classic white tank and a simple pair of sandals.
Cult Gaia Nevah Pants
Best Knit Summer Pants
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Color: Green
Another pair of sheer, casual summer pants to layer over your go-to swimsuit, Cult Gaia’s green knit pants have an open-weave top to match, but they stand strong on their own. The flared hem elongates and flatters the leg, while the elastic waistband will make getting in and out of these a cinch. For a day when you’re planning to grab a drink post beach-visit, these are the ideal pants. Pack a cute cardigan in your beach bag, and the look is complete.
Reformation Wilder Jeans
Best White Summer Jeans
- Sizes: 23-30
- Color: Almond
White jeans seem to invite stains, but styles that are just off-white, like these almond-colored pants from Reformation, are a bit easier to keep out of harm’s way. The straight-leg silhouette is both comfortable and flattering. Plus, contrast stitching adds a little sartorial intrigue, taking them beyond basic. Style with your favorite sneakers and a worn-in tee for a cool everyday outfit.
Staud Nash Pants
Best Ribbed Summer Pants
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Color: Blood Orange Multi
If you can’t stand sweats anymore, consider a pair of ribbed knit pants as a comfortable alternative. This bold orange style from L.A.-based label Staud is the perfect pick-me-up (and has a top to match!). While it may not be appropriate for the office, consider wearing this style when you’re out and about running errands. These are more polished than casual athleisure pieces but feel just as comfy. Add mules and a cute pair of sunglasses to finish off the look.
Versace Barocco Goddess Pants
Best Silk Summer Pants
- Sizes: 2-14
- Color: Mauvelous citron
Planning to spend any time on a yacht this summer (or just channel that energy)? These are the pants for you. Versace’s silk twill pants are both bright and luxurious. The bold pattern includes swirling gold motifs inspired by acanthus leaves. To style, you’ll need a swimsuit that’s equally luxe and perhaps a wide-brim hat to finish off the look — Ask yourself, “What would J.Lo do?” A final requirement: Make sure you have champagne in hand to enjoy.
Meet the Author
Aemilia Madden is a writer, editor, and brand consultant who has worked in the fashion industry for over eight years. She’s an Oakland, California native and Brooklyn resident. When she’s not writing about the latest trends, including for summer pants, Aemilia is running in prospect park, testing new recipes on her friends, and trying to keep up with her New Yorker subscription.
Meet the Experts
Ceylin Bilge is the co-founder of Istanbul-based label Siedrés, which offers modern takes on inspirations from around the world with colorful, printed and textured silhouettes. The brand specializes in swimwear and breezy separates for the beach and beyond.
Caroline Maguire is the fashion director at e-retailer Shopbop. She is always up to date on the latest trends, including with summer pants.