WTF Weds: Harem Pants

Posted on
Dec 14, 2011
Posted in: WTF

I should not be left to my own devices while shopping in other countries. I get it into my head that I should buy something avant-garde and unique and so European that when I get it home to the states I will be hailed as some sort of fashion goddess.

“Where on earth did you get that?” I imagine someone will ask of the parka/rollerblade ensemble I am rocking.

“Oh, you know,” I will reply casually, “I picked it up in Europe.” And then they will all die of jealousy right before my eyes.

This of course, is never the case. Fashion rarely, if ever, translates across international lines. The instant I cross the border into the states, whatever treasure lurking in my suitcase will transform from “totally hip and envy-inspiring” to “exclusively appropriate for Halloween”. And it will usually inspire a conversation more along these lines:

“Where did you get that thing?”


“Take it off. It looks like you were dressed by a five-year-old who hates you.”

And I will sadly toss my miniskirt oven-mitt on the give-away pile. Later, some poor soul at the Goodwill will look at it quizzically and perhaps even try it on, after which they will weep inconsolably for days and not know why.

This was precisely what happened when I went shopping in Barcelona a few months back. Based on my later purchases, I had evidently been looking for an outfit with the following attributes:

  • A crotch hovering somewhere around my shins.
  • Pockets conveniently located on the backs of my knees.
  • A fold-over waistband, which creates just the slightest impression that I may or may not be with child.
  • All for the low, low price of about 5 Euros ($40 U.S.)!

It seemed like an impossible task. I would never find an article of clothing misguided and ill-wrought enough to meet my needs. I had all but given up, and decided to spend my money on tasteful pair of silver earrings, when I saw them:


Burgundy harem yoga bottoms. Yeah.

Seriously, it looks like I’m smuggling a toddler in my pants. WTF, Everywhereist?


Leave a Comment

  • catcat

    For the woman on the go, who’s not quite sure when her delivery date is?

  • Janet T

    you know I love you right?

    my eyes are burning after looking at that picture

  • They’re convenient, because you can fit your entire yoga mat in your pants.

  • Those are absolutely hideous. And I say that with love.

  • So…I’m a dude and have little fashion sense, but this beats the time I wore black shoes, navy pants, pink shirt, and a brown blazer:)

  • Ruth

    You don’t…NOT look pregnant in those.

  • You can totally pull that off. No, really. Now would be a great time to pull those off.

  • angie

    I love my harem pants – caught on to it when I saw it was pretty popular with the *younger* demographic when I went back to Hong Kong !
    Btw I say this as someone less than 20yo (sorry? :P)

    • Everywhereist

      Damn it. Evidently I’m too old for harem pants, and too young for nylon track suits.

      • So many years back I was staying with a friend of mine in London. He invited several people over on a ‘sort-of’ sunny afternoon. One of his guests was a British woman who fancied herself very worldly as she had met my friend in Thailand — stop the presses she been to another country. She apparently thought everyone in the US were ‘tracksuit wearing, blonds with ponytails who live in warm climates and go shopping at the mall’ … a serious WTF moment. As she sprawled in a lounge chair on the back deck apparently attempting a tan, she was wearing a semi tracksuit (track pants with v-neck T). She says ‘you’re not a typical America now are you.’ WTF? My response ‘America is a large country with as many places and types of people as half of Europe. Where exactly did you visit when you were in the States – LA?”

  • This makes me feel a lot better about the bubblegum pink military-inspired jacket I bought one time in Madrid. I think there’s something about Spain specifically that enables this kind of hopefulness.

    • Yes! You are so totally right – there is something is Spain that totally screws with your fashion sense! Living here for quite a fewyears, I am still surprised at how weak I am when out and about shopping. I, thankfully, have resisted the harem pants, but I swear that I see people who ROCK the harem pants — so it is possible, but just not for me and, as we have witnessed, not for the everywhereist either.
      I have a whole closet full of “european” clothes that I will never wear anywhere on any continent, but I always feel brave buying them. Its later when I feel like a fool! Oh well, at least I’ve escaped the still going-strong mullet trend!

      • I agree. It’s Spain. I have a dress I practically swooned over in Barcelona that I’ve still never worn. I’ll have to wear it the next time I see you, Geraldine. It is kind of … Christmasy …

  • And I who simply suggested you to go to Zara and Mango when we were in Barcelona 😀

  • HAHA!

    We just finished our 14-country, four-month RTW ship tour, and seriously these were all I could find anywhere we went! Sadly, I didn’t indulge.

  • Meg B

    Those pants would be great if you ever had to carry around a colostemy bag. I tend to make horrible decisions in thrift stores. Not quite as expensive, but definitly as awful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Everywhereist

      Oh, Meg, I have made my share of bad decisions at thrift stores. I think in part it’s because of sensory overload. There’s so much stuff to pick through, by the time you find something that isn’t falling apart and that actually fits you, you can’t tell if it’s hideously ugly or not.

  • Moe

    LOL. I had an out-of-this-stratosphere, heartbreaking week, and this lovely outfit gave me a moment or two of laughter. You rock in those pants.

  • You’re so right! And the thing is, if you take those pants back to Spain, you can still pull them off, THERE. But for internationally-translatable pants, never go shopping in a country where the dread-locked mullet is considered cool (and has been for the last, oh, 20 years). Seriously, I lived in Spain for a while, and as much as I love that country, I avoid buying clothes there unless my suitcase is stuck somewhere far, far away.

    • Just realized that the above comment is pretty much a repeat of someone else’s comment. I hate it when I do that.

  • Haha this cracked me up because I to have been strange enough to buy Harem pants when I was in Thailand. I wore them to death thinking I looked all stylish rocking the Alibaba look, luckily I accidentally tore them when I was trekking so they never made it out of the country! PHEW!

  • Hahaha I totally looked at that photo and thought you were preggers. The pants definitely do not suit you. No offense, of course.

    PS. I’m secretly happy that there is at least one thing that doesn’t look good on you as you always seem to look smoking hot and I get jealous -and have a slight girl crush. OMG, did I just write girl crush?! I need to go now… 😉

    • Everywhereist

      Aww, love you, too, Pam!

  • Jenny

    LOL. I do the same thing. I have a closet full of clothes I bought in Europe, thought were awesome and trendy for about 5 minutes, and now have no idea what to do with. But I can’t bring myself to part with them cuz….well, cuz I bought them in Europe, yknow?

  • That just completely made my day.
    I totally do the same thing. I’m glad there are so many people to commiserate with.

  • LOL LOL I am guilty too. The positive is that should you ever set up your own market stall you could wear these pants. Wouldn’t take much adapting to have a ready made money bag up front!

  • It looks odd indeed, though take a look at these harem pants from Donwton Abbey. Now, that’s something for Halloween.

  • They don’t really make sense as maternity pants, though. They only really make sense if you’re someone who needs to have a built-in napkin in your lap when you eat, or if you are spending an afternoon picking berries.

    • Everywhereist

      Or, as I said before, if you wish to smuggle a toddler in your pants. You gotta admit: there could totally be a need for that.

  • That’s hilarious! We wore balloon pants while cycling Pakistan, but they weren’t nearly as bad as yours!!

    • Everywhereist

      I think you mean awesome, Nancy. Your pants weren’t nearly as awesome as mine. 🙂

  • Those pants should be banned right along with Walmart, the bomb, greenhouse gas, and stale bread. Like all those tourists in Barcelona who buy HUGE Mexican sombreros with ball fringe dangling on the brim and wear them in the bars thinking they are hip. maybe harem pants would complete their ensemble.

    • Everywhereist

      Whoa, whoa, whoa! Now we’re comparing them to Walmart?! That’s just mean, Nancy.

  • Yicke

    Being european-based myself, I can safely say that these pants would not work in my part of the world either, except on some very slender 16-year old with a definate X-factor…

    However, one small correction: 5 euro is nowhere nere 40 dollars, more like… $ 6,99 actually. So don’t feel too bad!

    • Everywhereist

      Yes, I know. That was part of the joke. 🙂

  • Sorry, but just had to say that 5 euros is not equivalent to $40, it’s more like $6.50. And the fashion lost in translation thing goes both ways…there are things you can get in the U.S. that any self-respecting European wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole (and I’m American, so please don’t say I’m biased). 😉 Oh, and there are actually people who can pull off the harem pant look, but on most people they are hideous, and most Europeans with a bit of fashion sense stay far away from them.

    • Everywhereist

      Yes, well aware that $5 does not equal 40 Euros. Subtle sarcasm on my behalf regarding the ever devalued U.S. dollar. 🙂

      • I thought it was funny.

  • Cool pants. No, really. I like the fact that they include their own carrying pouch, bit marsupial like. You could go camping in them and fit everything you need inside. They could, in fact, be the tent. Genius. Part of the fun of shopping away from home I guess and away from the security of a shop you know, that shows you (dictates to you?) clearly what’s cool and in fashion. Happens to me all the time on holiday, in secondhand shops ..

  • Christina

    You should save those pants in case the endtimes come. You can pack your water, canned goods, and some candles in the crotch.

    • Or you could back the essentials: a toddler and some freshly-picked berries.

      • Everywhereist

        Really, I think there’s room for all of that. It’s basically my own little bomb shelter … in my pants.

  • It’s okay, Everywhereist. Every day last winter, I wore a pair of gloves with a llama design printed all over them. You know–the ones with the fingers cut out? I thought they were all the rage.

    Nobody had the heart to tell me until springtime came.

    • Everywhereist

      Oh, YEAH. Those sound HORRENDOUS. And not at all EXACTLY like the ones I got for my friend Chrissy while I was in Peru (looks around nervously).

  • Gloria

    Yay for FUPA pants!!! I told my friend Mindy (you know her) that I wanted to comment on your blog but thought my comment might be innappropriate..she said “Do It”!

    • Everywhereist

      I didn’t know what FUPA was, so I googled it. And … wow.

      • Skippy

        I learn so much reading your site. Still, somehow I didn’t really need to know what FUPA meant. hee – Completely appropriate tho’.

  • Emmanuelle

    This is called a “sarouel” (French spelling) And is inspired of a traditional north african pants.

  • michabear

    These are exactly the type of pants that fill my closet. Sad to say I didn’t buy them O/S, just the type of random stuff I generally fall for. le Sigh.

  • Jeanette Jayne

    i once bought see-through white pants in paris, wore them to a boat party back home and treated many to the lovely view of my fashionably trimmed lady bits. i now have a strict NO CLOTHES policy while traveling, and have learned to wear undies!

  • I also came home from travels abroad with a “cool” outfit only to wonder what I was thinking once I was home. Like you said….it best ends up as a Halloween costume.

  • These are very comfortable and I have many of them in different designs and styles. Someday if you plan to visit India let me know, will introduce you to the ‘cooler’ stuff:)

  • Cam

    1. I do own a pair of harem pants.

    2. I did buy them in Europe.

    3. I did feel super-sophisticated rocking them in London with a pair of cowboy boots and a leather coat.

    4. I did bring them with me to the US and tried for a more casual look in Hawaii.

    …It was a FAIL. I did look like I needed my diaper changing.
    (photographic evidence here:

    5. They are, however, great in pregnancy. 😉

    • Everywhereist

      Nope, sorry, Cam. You still look adorable. Perhaps one of the secrets to looking fantastic in European fashions is that you actually have to BE EUROPEAN! 🙂

      • Cam

        I did choose the least embarrassing photo, sorry. 😛
        But Rob was adamant that I was NOT rocking it.

  • Found your site about an hour ago and have been combing through the archives and laughing non-stop since! This is my new favorite blog.

  • I have often brought back things from Europe … and love them. People do ask me where I get it. I do get to say things like “Oh Greece” or “Oh Paris”. It isn’t that fashion can’t cross over … it is that there is bad fashion on all sides.

    I have seen people pull these off … it is more who you are than where you are.

  • My husband and I call them diaper pants. And snicker every time we see them. Snicker.

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

Instagram has returned invalid data.

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.