Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.
Here’s a question we haven’t talked about in far too long: what do you think are the best pants for work? Which ones are your favorites for comfort — for fit — for travel? There are actually a ton of great options right now — almost all of the ones below are washable, available at least up to size 18, and many are available in petite, tall, and plus sizes as well. Which are your favorite work pants? Do tell…
- Hall of Famers (specific styles that have stood the test of time): NYDJ, Eileen Fisher,
- Usual Suspects (reliable brands or stores to check first):
- Stores: Loft, Banana Republic, Express, J.Crew, Everlane, Uniqlo
- Brands: NYDJ, Nic+Zoe, Eileen Fisher, Theory, Boss, Lafayette 148 New York
- Under $50: Old Navy, J.Crew Factory, Everlane,
- Petite sizes: (most! listed below)
- Plus sizes: Brass, Nic + Zoe, JC?, Eileen Fisher, NYDJ, Old Navy, Talbots (sign up for our newsletter focusing on plus-size workwear!)
- Tall sizes: Old Navy, J.Crew
- Pregnancy sizes: Loft, Gap (check out our entire guide to maternity workwear!)
- Washable: Brass, Nic + Zoe, J.Crew,
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If you’re hunting for one that’s under $50, there are a ton of great options, but they are very different. Readers love the comfort of J.Crew Factory’s drapey pull-on (usually around $35 with the sale of the day), while Everlane’s work pant ($50) has a nice, crisp, hold-you-in feeling to the fabric. Still, if you’re looking for a ton of options in color and fabric sizes, readers swear by the Old Navy Pixie pants, pictured above — they’re around $35 and come in regular, tall, and petite sizes up to size 20; they’re also available in plus sizes.
Another good option that’s often on sale: J.Crew’s Cameron pant, which readers recently noted was a good option for pears (and have pockets). They’re available at Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter as well as J.Crew, although note that J.Crew has a ton more options and come in sizes up to 24, as well as petite and tall sizes. The pictured ones are a washable option good for four seasons!
For just a bit more money puts you in the range of the NYDJ Stretch Knit Trousers, which are my personal favorite for a mix of comfort and polish — I feel more formal with the zipper (unlike some of the pull-on options on this list) and I feel like they wash and wear really well. I also like the thickness of the pants. They’re currently $78-$119; note that they’re almost always on sale in the big Nordstrom sales. A few other great options around this price point: Brass’s ponte pants are $98 (I’ve heard rave reviews but haven’t tried myself), as well as Nic+Zoe’s Wonderstretch pants (some options as low as $102, but mostly around $148).
We’ve sung the praises of the pants the readers call “magic pants” before — they’ve noted that they’re “as comfortable as pajama pants,” “like slim cigarette pants that never wrinkle,” and “can be washed in a sink.” They come in plus and petite sizes, and a ton of colors — I personally haven’t seen anything but lucky sizes on sale but that’s me. They’re $168 new at Nordstrom, Dillards, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.
If washability isn’t high on your list of needs — or if you’re more looking for suiting separates that have great pants — Boss and Theory are the brands to beat. Boss’s slightly bootcut trousers get the highest ratings and are around $248, while Theory’s Good Wool trousers still get plenty of shoutouts. Fun fact: the Good Wool line is ” is spun from sustainably-farmed Australian wool milled at an environmentally-friendly factory” — and I was surprised to notice that Theory now goes up to a size 16.
Readers, how about you — which do you think are the best pants for work? Which are your favorite styles to wear to work — drapey, slim knit, cropped, or bootcut/voluminous trousers?