2020 Update: we still stand by this advice for stylish summer dress pants for women — you may also want to check out our latest roundup of lightweight summer pants for women!
Lightweight, summer dress pants can be difficult to find — you want to look professional, yet be cool, and of course you don’t want to look like a wrinkled mess. It’s been a while since we talked about lightweight pants for work, so let’s discuss. Ladies, do you prefer to wear pants year-round — and if so, what fabrics and styles do you prefer in summer? Any classic pants you buy year after year in new colors?
Some general tips at the outset for stylish summer dress pants for work:
- Watch the pockets — painters’ pockets, cargo pockets, and even regular five-pocket styles can be too casual for most offices (but know your office!)
- look for details like pintucked creases down the front — the pintucked creases have a way of keeping the look sharp and structured even as the pants loosen up through the day
- check out our tips on how to avoid sheer pants if you’re leaning towards wearing white pants for summer
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Summer Dress Pants in Stretch Cotton
For a more conservative business casual office, stretch cotton is probably the first line of defense. These are widely available in ankle pants; you can also find some stretch cotton trouser options.
Summer Dress Pants in Cotton Pique
Textured cotton pique pants can be lighterweight than regular cotton, but hold their shape a bit better — and they wrinkle a bit less than linen trousers. (See also: micro ottoman pants like these.)
Summer Dress Pants in Seersucker
Seersucker options can be great (particularly in certain parts of the country, like DC, where they have Seersucker Thursday!) — and they often offer matching blazers for women.
Stylish Summer Dress Pants: Linen
Linen is the obvious choice for hot summer days — but it’s so hard to find a great pair for work. Still: here are just some days where you need to be in a suit or something else Very Professional, weather be damned — a summer associate lawn party, an old courthouse, some other sweltering summer event — and linen is the obvious choice here.
Note that a cotton linen blend will wrinkle less; also note that the closer to 100% linen an option is, there may be opacity problems (yay) and shape-retention problems (i.e. serious stretching out). (Another warning: you may think that palazzo linen pants are a classic for summer… but I don’t wear mine anymore after my pre-schooler asked why mommy was wearing pajamas. So… maybe keep those for the beach.)