The Great Hunt for Work Pants

I won’t lie to you. Some of my work pants are literally falling apart before my eyes. It might be time to look for a new pair, or two. Here’s a particularly long post with many such options.

I work in a fairly casually-dressed environment. I think, collectively, us teachers have decided that whatever we wear must be comfortable enough for a day of joy, stress, frustration, and acceptance: all emotions I might end up feeling in the course of an hour.

An example of my go-to ensemble: Black pants (Paige), black t-shirt, and an Isabel Marant jacket.

As a uniform dresser, while I have literally chosen to buy multiples of the same shirt and wear it daily, I have yet streamline my pants choice. Partially, it’s because I purchased five of my seven black pants about four to five years ago, well before I was thinking about creating a consistent collection. Three out out of the seven pants rarely get worn, but still have a place in my closet for specific occasions such as summer warmth, job interviews, and overall being slightly more presentable. That means I truly heavily rotate four pairs, and after constant us, some of my pants are actually developing holes.

As such, it might be time to consider replacing some pairs. Here’s what I’m looking for:

  1. Skinny pants: I prefer the skinny look on a daily basis more than the tailored pants look. It can still look polished and professional (the two Ps!), even if it’s less formal. At the very least, I’d like pants that are mostly tight-fitting.
  2.  Stretchy fabric: I must be getting old, because stretchy pants are now a top priority for me. They are just more comfortable for a full day of running around. Ponte fabric has become a personal favorite due to stretch and lack of wrinkles.
  3. Rise: No more low rise for me. The possibility of whale-tailing aside, as I reach the ripe age of 33 I prefer to keep my gut tucked away.  I think higher rise pants (defined loosely by me as being between 8-10 inch in rise) also tend to provide a more chic silhouette. Really high rise pants (defined loosely by me as anything above 10 inches), however, are also out for me. I need pants, not something that acts as another bra.
  4. Must look like real pants: Leggings are great, but can we please add a zipper to them so that it doesn’t look quite like lounge pants I rolled out of bed with/attended a yoga class with? I need pockets and a zipper, please. Even a fake zipper works for me.

Some examples of the look I’m going for include the ever stylish Duchess of Cambridge  and Sofia Coppola.  I especially love the look of ankle length pants along with ballet flats. For more inspiration, you can check out the Pinterest collection I’ve been assembling, right here.

If you are also in the market for such magical black pants, here are the options I’ve been looking at recently.

Paige Demin – Roxxi Ankle – Black Ponte

Paige has become by go-to pants location because of their Ponte collection, and because I happen upon a pair of their Ponte pants about four years ago and have worn it weekly since. The comfort level is at the pajama level, while remaining wrinkle free, looking polished, and mostly being thick enough to wear during very frigid winters. The rise is lower than I’d like, and the zipper details makes it a bit edgy, so I won’t be purchasing the same model again even if I highly recommend it. However, I recently happen to notice the Roxxi Ponte, and have been debating owning it since.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.49.06 AM.png
Screenshot of the Roxxi pants.

The rise seems high enough, and the slit at the bottom together with the ankle length makes it look polished or at least interesting..

I haven’t purchased this pair yet, though. I’ve been hesitating buying another Paige pants since I bought a pair of the Verdugo Ankle Ponte pants  a few months ago. I was quite disappointed by that pair’s much thinner and coarser Ponte fabric. The rise was also lower than expected, making it quite unflattering and not that comfortable. I kept that pair for some unknown reason, but have regretted it since.

Eileen Fisher – Washable Stretch Crepe Slim Pant With Yoke

Eileen Fisher is a brand I have been seriously debating for quite some time. It’s obviously very dedicated to being eco-responsible and sustainable, which I really admire. Yet, the cut of their collections along with their styling doesn’t fit my sense of esthetic. Loose flowing tunic shirts paired with loose and flowing pants in one outfit is basically my own version of fashion faux pas.

Still, they do have a pair of pants that is of definite interest. Their Washable Stretch Crepe Slim Pant seems to have that tailored look I strive for, with a fabric that sounds like it would be quite comfortable for a full day of running around.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 11.18.55 AM.pngIt definitely isn’t full-on skinny, and it definitely lacks that zipper I’m looking for in an effort to avoid looking like I didn’t bother wearing real pants to my place of employment.  While I can overlook both details for a great pair of pants, I’d really have to try these on in person before making a commitment/judgement.

Everlane – The Stretch Ponte Skinny Pant

Oh Everlane. I’ve ordered from them twice by now and have kept a total of zero items. It was mostly due to quality or style, but I haven’t given up on them because it seems like a wide range of people have positive experiences with their collections.

Their Stretch Ponte Skinny Pant looks like a very easy to wear pair of pants. It’s definitely fitted, and includes a zipper even if it’s not where I’d like it to be! Reviews suggest a disappointing lack of pockets, but I can deal with that. At $78 with free shipping (if you buy two items), it’s also one of the cheapest of the options covered so far. I am seriously considering trying this pair.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 11.32.54 AM.png

I’ve also been eyeing their GoWeave Crop Trouser, as it’s made of wool, making it quite winter-appropriate. However, wearing anything cropped at -15C doesn’t seem like a wise decision. Being short, perhaps this isn’t actually cropped pants for ladies my height. I think the tailored look of it can definitely look chic with a tight-fitting cashmere sweater, but I worry this pants is too much of a throw-back to the terrible tailoring of 80’s office pants with odd pleats and huge looking thighs. I’ll have to try these on.

& Other Stories – Tailored Trousers

Here’s another pair of tailored pants for those of us who are looking for something a little less casual.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 10.40.55 AM.png

I haven’t had any experience with this brand (their parent company is H&M), but I was quite tempted to change that. This pair is made of organic cotton, looks wonderful on the model, and it seems like & Other Stories is interested in being eco-responsible. I didn’t order this pair because I wasn’t too sure about their sizing and didn’t want to chance it.

Industry Standard – The Simone Highrise

If you think you’d prefer jeans to Ponte leggings, you might also want to check out the The Simone Highrise. Industry Standard jeans are made in L.A. with cotton milled in the U.S., and they seem like a company worth supporting. I’ve actually ordered their Margot Highrise. but I ended up returning it since I realized I had a very similar pair of jeans already, and the size wasn’t quite right. I would highly recommend sizing up when ordering from them, perhaps even two sizes up. I’m size 26 in Rag & Bone, ordered size 27, and found them too tight.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.56.55 AM.png

The Margot didn’t have as much stretch as I would prefer, so I decided that The Simone might not work out for me either.

Reformation – High & Skinny

Reformation is definitely somewhere I would absolutely love to shop, but find that there’s almost little chance I ever would. Their offering is either too trendy for me, too revealing for anything I would do/anywhere I would go, and often isn’t in a color I would choose. I assume I am, despite caring about shopping sustainably, not their base clientele. However, their High & Skinnypair of jeans could work even for a nerd like me.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 5.40.57 PM.png

My only concern with this pair, which is even available for us Petite ladies, is the rise. At 11.5, I might be able to wear one of their super cropped shirts since the pants would likely reach my boobs. Alas, Reformation and I might not be meant to be together after all.

AG Adriano Goldschmied – Janis Flared Jean

Let me just say up front that I ordered this pair in black. I know, I know. My list specifically stated I was in the market for skinny, not flared, pants. Yet, there was something about this pair that I wanted to try. They are on sale for $89 on Gilt, and the Janise cut has many positive reviews online. If you click on this link and use the code “GIVE25 “, you’ll also get $25 off and help a lady out.

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I’ve been interested in buying AG jeans for a while because of their environmental commitments, and this pair presented an interesting opportunity. It might look quite polished with a t-shirt and heels, and believe it or not, I do wear heels some days. Once I try these on, I’ll update this post. Quick update: These were returned. They were too voluminous for my taste, and would need some serious alternations. Will definitely be looking at AG jeans moving forward, though.

UNIQLO – Women Ponte Jogger Pants

No list seems complete without checking out something from UNIQLO. I’ll admit that I have not had great success with the fit of their pants, so I cannot comment on how durable their offering might be.

UNIQLO is my go-to place for t-shirts, so when I picked up a couple of simple black short sleeve shirts recently, I also added these to my cart. I’m not exactly sure why these are called jogger pants, since they seem to look like regular-old-skinny pants on the models. These don’t have a zipper or pockets, but they pretend like they do and sometimes that’s all that matters. And let’s not forget the ever comfy Ponte fabric. At $29 they are quite affordable, especially if one is looking to buy multiples.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 11.53.55 AM.png

Having ordered these, I can definitely say the fabric would be very comfortable to wear on longer days. However, this pair didn’t fit me well and was promptly returned. If their pants usually work for your body, I would definitely give these a try.


The Vintage Option – Various Offerings from The Real Real

Finally, since I shop vintage/used clothing often to avoid worrying about breaking my budget or the environment, I decided to take a closer look at the black skinny pants available on The Real Real. This website is where I go to indulge in (mostly) Chanel purchases, so I was pleased to find a pair of pants that were my size and had true potential to fit my lifestyle.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 12.03.08 PM.png

When I saw the pictured above pair of Chanel skinny pants from 2003, I decided to order them immediately. They look tailored and fitted, and the zipper details at the bottom also adds some interest. Sadly, despite being very clear about my own measurements, this beautiful pair of pants was simply too small for me. I’ll be on the lookout for something similar. By the way, you can use this link if you’d like to get $25 off your first purchase and help a lady out along the way.

Reading the Purseforum, I know some people have mixed results with The Real Real. My experience with them, having shopped there regularly since 2015, has been wonderful. I’ve never been sent a fake (as far as I can tell), have consigned various items (currently selling this, this, and this) with them successfully, and have received wonderful customer support when things didn’t pan out. I’ve only shopped for clothes with them, and I’d recommend buying clothes from them to others based on my own experience.


What are your go-to work pants? Do you have experience with any of these offerings? Please share in the comments below. 


2 thoughts on “The Great Hunt for Work Pants

  1. Thank you for that awesome recommendation and for shopping at my store 😉 I found a pair of straight leg DL on sale and promptly ordered it. The material was the same as the Emma, so I thought it was worth a try! ❤️


  2. Hi! A little late to this party but I just discovered your blog…and realized I ordered personalized stationary from you a couple of years ago! Anywho, I taught elementary school for 10 years and empathize with you on black pants, uniform dressing, making lists, etc. I LOVE dl 1961 jeans and don’t stray from the brand much. They are an investment but I’ve gotten them on sale at Nordie’s and Zappos. At 5’2″, I find their “Emma” cut in a 28 to be a perfect fit for me. The “Riker” finish is a lovely black that stays black, doesn’t pick up too much pet hair, and look more like slim trousers than jeans. “Margaux” is also a good cut for me though I go down to a 27. Enjoy the rest of your summer and have a great upcoming school year.


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