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What are Cigarette Pants?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 21, 2024
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Cigarette pants are slim-fitted pants that feature a straight opening at the foot rather than a taper or flare. Also known as “stovepipe pants,” “pencil pants” or “slim-fit pants,” these pants first became popular during the 1950s in both men’s and women’s fashions. While men wore them most commonly in black, women wore them in denim or cropped as “Capri” pants. Since the 1950s, cigarette pants have gone in and out of style throughout the decades, largely following various music movements.

Cigarette pants were particularly favored by such stars as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Sandra Dee during the 1950s. As the 50s gave way to the counter-culture of the 1960s, pants with a flare, boot cut, or bell bottom eclipsed the popularity of the straight-legged pant. While flared pants became a staple of 1970s fashion, many of those who were part of the underground punk scene began wearing cigarette pants again. By the 1980s, leggings, spandex, and skinny jeans were all the rage, and especially favored by heavy metal bands.

By the early 1990s, baggy jeans and overalls had begun to replace slim-fitting pants of any kind due to the fashion influences of hip-hop and grunge music. Whereas tights worn with over-sized tops had been popular amongst young women in the 1980s, this trend reversed from the early- to mid-1990s, when baggy pants were frequently paired with tight-fitting crop tops. As flared pants came back into style during the mid to late 1990s, cigarette pants fell out of style once more. Style icons such as supermodel, Kate Moss and actress, Sienna Miller are credited with bringing women’s cigarette pants back into mainstream style in the new millennium.

The revival of cigarette pants and other slim-fit variations in the 2000s can also be attributed to complementary fashion trends. For example, fashionable boots are often worn over pants, and more easily slipped over tapered or straight leg pants than those with a flare. Slouch boots, which made a fashion comeback in the 2000s are also most easily worn over skinny pants, and ballerina flats are best worn with tapered or straight legs to prevent the pant leg from covering the shoe and skimming the ground. Another incarnation of slim-fitted pants that have become popular in the new millennium are “jeggings,” a hybrid of leggings or tights and skinny jeans.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1000957 — On Feb 07, 2019

Bridgette Bardot popularized cigarette pants.

By anon151592 — On Feb 10, 2011

That's a very broad statement, rjohnson. I see plenty of people wearing cigarette pants, and I'm happy to see how well they look. I also think there are a lot more people with the right body for them, but need to lose weight before the fit can be flattering.

By rjohnson — On Aug 31, 2010

I'd think that very few people have the right body for cigarette pants.

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