Style + Career Style, + Work

How Did I Become a Wearer of Pants?

For at least 15 years, I owned (but barely ever wore) a single pair of suit pants.  I wore dresses and skirts every day, even when it was below freezing.  So when I was doing laundry last week, I noticed a disturbing trend occurring in my hamper — there were no skirts, and only one dress in the washing, everything else was pants.

How the hell did that happen?!

The answer is pregnancy.  Maternity skirts were usually jersey trash that exposed every dimple and roll.  Maternity dresses were often too short or too casual for work.  And since I had to wear compression socks almost every day for six months, once the weather became too warm for knee-high boots, I was forced into pants.

But being pushed back into pants had one unexpected benefit, it forced me to find the “good work pants.”  I field tested dozens of pairs – different styles, fabrics, and brands.  And I have created, what I believe to be, the definitive list of comfortable work pants for women.

The Work Legging // Yes, I used work and legging in the same sentence.  Ten years ago, I would never have considered such a thing, but post-COVID, even some professionals are wearing leggings to the office.  It’s like the Twilight Zone.  But if you’re going to wear a tight-fitting legging to work, it should be a thick, flattering, good quality legging.

Meet the NYDJ Sculpt Her Legging. Also, in plus-sizes.  These leggings have the thickness of a ponte pant, but in a legging cut.  They also wear like iron and are warm in the winter due to their thickness.  The first time I wore them, my brunch date liked them so much she bought them while we were waiting for our Aperol Spritzes.

The Straight Leg Trouser // Like a slim leg pant that isn’t skinny?  Halogen’s Straight Leg Trouser is for you.  Cut with a leg opening that is narrow enough to be slim, but won’t cut off circulation to your ankle, this pant looks professional and modern.  That’s probably why it sells out every time Halogen restocks it (they’re already down to single digit availability in many sizes).

The Ponte Flares // My postpartum body is still healing and changing.  Some days, the idea of wearing a waist band is just more than I can bear.  And on those days, I reach for the NYDJ Sculpt Her Wide Legs. (I don’t know why they market them as wide legs, they’re bootcut flare.)

These incredible comfortable pants are easy to wear and style.  They look like a suit when paired with NYDJ’s ponte blazer.  And they are machine washable on gentle, so they’re a great choice for travel or for those of us with children.  They also come in plus.

The Wide Leg Ponte Pants // You’ll see there are two categories of wide leg pants.  The reason is simple, some days I need looks and some days I need comfort.  These Spanx Wide Leg Pants are the pick for the days that I need comfort.

On me, the pants are ankle length, so I can wear them with flats without hemming.  I also like that they’re pull-on, so no zip or button to make my postpartum pooch more prominent than it needs to be.  These pants look dressy or casual depending on how you style them.  I just flew in them, and was so comfortable, but walked right into a meeting when I got off the plane.

The Wide Leg Trousers // In the work trouser category, there are two pairs of wide leg trousers that I recommend.  The first, is a pair from Ann Taylor that I own in four colors.  The AT Side Zip Trouser comes in a fluid crepe and fits beautifully.  The flat front styling and the drape of the wide leg make these pants look and feel glamorous.  They come in petite as well as regular lengths.  And you can also snap them up in ivory or burgundy.

The second pair of wide legs that I recommend come in a suiting fabric.  The black is selling out quickly.  I also own the dark teal.  What I like about this pants is that it’s easy to match them to other AT jackets to make suits.  They also create a beautiful leg line.

Have a pair of pants to recommend?  Drop them in the comments, especially if you have a plus, petite or tall pair to recommend.

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  1. Judy says:

    No matter what else I try, the Banana Republic Logan pants seem to fit me the best. However, the pairs I bought over the past 5 years or so tend to be thinner than older pairs. How about you all?

    February 27, 2023/Reply
    • Paula says:

      I wear Banana Republic dress pants exclusively. The Logan is my go to.

      February 27, 2023/Reply
    • Jenny says:

      I was also a Banana devotee, especially to the Logan. But I agree with you that the material has been thinner lately. Also I find the midrise of the Logans looks a little dated these days. Have been wearing various high-rise Ann Taylor pants in petite sizes instead.

      February 27, 2023/Reply
  2. Diane says:

    I discovered Cotidie Larissa pants through the Docket Blog on Instagram, but they are great. The fabric is similar to Spanx, they have leggings-style pockets in the front, which is unusual for ponte pants, and they come in tall sizes. I bought them in black and went back and ordered both other colors.

    February 27, 2023/Reply
  3. Suzanne says:

    For me the definitive work pant is the MM LaFleur Foster pant. I’m 5’2″ and they have has an adjustable hem so they fit me even when I’m wearing flats. It’s a great entry for the straight leg ponte category.

    February 27, 2023/Reply
    • Judy says:

      I wanted to like the Foster pants, but they are not meant for my bodybuilding legs – bigger thighs and glutes.

      February 28, 2023/Reply
    • Natalie says:

      Also love the foster pant. They have a side zipper and seams down the front, and they never look wrinkled and are machine washable (!!) I have thin legs and virtually no rear end, and they are the only work pants that fit my body type.

      February 28, 2023/Reply
  4. anna c says:

    Macy’s Alfani Curvy Fit Bootcut trousers. They’re not crazy expensive, available in black & gray, which match my wardrobe, and they fit beautifully.

    February 27, 2023/Reply
  5. Lisa says:

    Quince’s ultra stretch ponte straight leg pants. Fits like leggings but looks like business pants. Great for travel At $40 with free shipping and returns, it’s a steal. I promptly bought more!

    February 27, 2023/Reply
  6. JLO says:

    I love the Neale Straight-leg pant in Drapeweave from Madewell. These say straight leg, but fit like a well-tailored wide leg pant on me. I’m short and these are one of the petite pants I’ve been able to buy that aren’t too small or don’t need additional tailoring. Fit like a glove the first time I put them on! I can wear them at work or at home, depending on the top. Strongly recommend!

    February 28, 2023/Reply
  7. Cat says:

    I usually wear Ann Taylor curvy fit, but I recently got in a jam and needed something fast with no tailoring, so I ordered a few pairs of curvy Rafaella pants on Amazon. For ~$40/pair, they’re pretty great! Slightly thinner fabric than AT, but very good for the price, especially since it can be hard to find a curvy fit in that price point. I have the gabardine dress pants and the ponte slim pant and was pleasantly surprised by both.

    February 28, 2023/Reply
  8. Erin Stephenson says:

    I love the MM LaFleur better than denim pants. They make a couple of styles and they come in an extended size range. The Hockley Jean is my fave for my body type and I own 3 pairs. I have a pretty long inseam so I don’t need this feature, but these come with internal snaps to fold a cuff under and make the inseam shorter.

    February 28, 2023/Reply
  9. Joanna says:

    Pre pandemic I was a dress and skirt lady. Now, I am all pants too! The idea of rights and stuff fabrics after years of remote work is a hard no for me.

    February 28, 2023/Reply
  10. Elyse says:

    I’m tall, 5 foot nine, and thin. Except for the ever prominent menopause belly. A side zip dress pant would just frame it out and accentuate it. Am I looking for the holy Grail? Would love to hear about any middle-flattering pants that don’t cut off circulation.

    February 28, 2023/Reply
  11. C says:

    Pants rule! I have many pants I love but I’ll mention Betabrand dress pant yoga pants here. I find that the pandemic has made me really hate small inconvenient pockets, but you can get these with pockets. I size up so they’re not too tight.

    February 28, 2023/Reply
  12. Erin says:

    Eileen Fisher High Waist Ankle Pant. No buttons. Easy pull on. Nice fabric (honestly probably better for spring/summer but I have been wearing them in Washington DC winter with high ankle boots). Not cheap and SIZE DOWN but otherwise I love them.

    March 1, 2023/Reply
  13. Kate says:

    On the plus side, Eloquii dress pants are great! I’m very curvy (would normally buy an 18 and tailor it in), and the Viola fit trousers were perfect in a 14. I also have one of their ponte suits (I believe in a 14, but the stretch is necessary) and it’s great. I’ll also second the Spanx: I adore the back seam skinny and wear it in a large.

    March 2, 2023/Reply