The Hunt: The Best Washable Pants for Work (and: How to Wash ‘Em)

SIGNATURE STRETCH ORIGINAL EDITOR PANT Sure, we all know what basics 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.

A reader wrote in, requesting I round up washable pants for the office, and I thought it was a great idea. I’ve always drycleaned my suits, but the majority of my pants I’ve washed myself. There are actually a ton of good ones out there, so I thought I’d start the discussion with some tips. Update March 2015: Check out our updated guide to washable pants!

  • Look for stretch if you’re shopping online. If you want to narrow your search to pants that are machine washable, look for ones with stretch in them — they almost always are washable.  (But most online descriptions will tell you what the recommended care is.)
  • Get them tailored only after you’ve washed them first. Some pants are great in the wash, but for the first wash there may be a little bit of shrinkage.
  • Wash them in cold water at home — but don’t put them in the dryer. At least, not for very long. I usually like to put my pants in the dryer for about 15 minutes — it gets the wrinkles out, and just a bit of time with the dryer sheet makes them softer.  I always wash my pants on cold, and I usually do use Woolite and the delicate cycle for my pants.
  • Hang them upside down to dry. The weight of the waistband will pull the pants taut, effectively smoothing them out. (I almost never iron ’em!) When you put them on the hanger, do your best to keep the crease the pants came with — if there was no crease, just put the inseams together neatly.
  • “Dry clean” on the label usually means you can wash them (but proceed at your own risk).  The big thing to know here is that “dry clean only” means, well, DRY CLEAN ONLY.  If it just says “dry clean,” though, you usually can either dry clean them or wash them.  Your mileage may vary here, but: unless I really loved the pair of pants, I would give “dry clean” pants a whirl in the washer, as well — particularly if the pants are made up entirely of natural fibers.  You may want to do a spot test first.

Readers, do you wash the pants you wear to the office?  Which are your favorite pairs?  Check out our roundup, below…

Perfect Trouser PantsI’ve personally washed Gap’s Perfect Trousers (also available in petite and tall, and with 3 different inseam lengths) — and they came out great, even with frequent washings, and I have never found ironing to be necessary if you hang ’em upside down to dry. These even say “machine wash” on the tag. They’re $59.95 at Gap. Perfect Trouser Pants
Cotton Stretch Lucia TrousersBrooks Brothers is having its annual sale, which is the only reason these great pants come in so early in the round-up — normally $128, they’re currently marked to $64.  Available in four colors, these also say “machine wash” on the tag.  They’re $64 at Brooks Brothers. Cotton Stretch Lucia Trousers
SIGNATURE STRETCH ORIGINAL EDITOR PANT When I asked this Q on Facebook and Twitter, the most popular answer was Express’s Editor Pant (it’s also pictured at the top of this post, in black).  As one reader put it:  “Haters will hate, but Express has nailed the editor. I’ve tried tons of others at all pricepoints, and they’re the best machine washable option.”  They’re $69.90 at Express. SIGNATURE STRETCH ORIGINAL EDITOR PANT
Drew Black Collection PantThe Limited’s Drew pant was also among the reader suggestions on Facebook — I like the double buttons and the fact that they’re available in 00-16 in 3 inseams. They’re $74.90 at The Limited. Drew Black Collection Pant
Sloan fit flareThese “customer favorite” pants from Banana Republic suggest you dry clean them, but I would try washing them in cold water, maybe with a spot test first.  They’re available in regular, tall and petite sizes in multiple inseams, 00-16.  They’re $89.50.  Banana Republic Sloan Fit Flare
Theory Stretch Canvas Fit And Flare PantsI wanted to throw in at least one pair of more expensive pants to show you that washable pants aren’t limited to mall stores. For example, these Theory pants are just cotton and Lycra — while this tag also suggests you dry clean them, this is exactly the kind of pant that I would try in the delicate cycle. (Considering their price, I might try to get a year’s worth of wear out of them first.) They’re $235 at Saks. Theory Stretch Canvas Fit And Flare Pants

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  1. Thanks for this! I once “washed” my slacks when I was younger and naive about clothing, in the washer. The inside lining was never the same :(

  2. transition :

    Editor’s pants in 8short have been heaven-sent for me… the only pants I’ve found that are the right length and that don’t gap in the back due to my j.lo! I toss ’em in the washer with everything else on cold and just let the air dry. 5+ years on the same 3 pairs and no worse for wear!

  3. transition :

    Random thought…

    Was up way too late last night unable to sleep and started to look up some ex-partners on the faceybook (something I really never do). Am I the only one totally amazed at how much less attractive an ex becomes? (In other words some in reality like a huge weight gain or something and some just by knowing what a jerk he is.) One of the least attractive to me was on a magazine’s Top 10 hottest in [his field within the entertainment industry] list while we were together… holy heck did he let himself go after we ended!

    Anyone else have these experiences?

    • Feel free to call me petty, but I love it when that happens! It’s one of those small victories in life. Strangely enough, the exes that I am still on close terms with look very similar, but the jerks have all gone downhill.

    • anony m. ous :

      I also really enjoy when this happens. I also think it’s interesting how much more irritated I get with exes after we’ve broken up. For instance, I was hanging out with an ex-BF this weekend (we are still friends) and was shocked at how incredibly irritating I found his voice. I wondered how this never bothered me when we dated!

    • Polka Dottie :

      I’ve had this happen. I’m totally squicked out visually when I see pictures of my last (only other) serious boyfriend. He just looks so grubby and weird to me now and I wonder how I wasn’t squicked out then. Maybe I was though to some extent, and I just wrote it off and tried to ignore it. I think when we are in relationships it’s a lot easier to write off things that, deep down, we know we really don’t like or shouldn’t tolerate. In my situation, there were so many red flags about that situation that I ignored so I wonder if general demeanor and visual aesthetics were part of the many things I ignored.

    • Yes! One guy who was my absolute heart throb throughout college (kind of a “bad guy” so we hooked up a couple times but never dated) is now a pharmacist at Costco. I can’t tell you how that changed my world. He used to be the most handsome, unattainable guy in my world – I spent many many hours daydreaming about him. And now I totally wouldn’t even notice him if I got my prescription filled at Costco…

    • Wannabe Runner :

      I’m still friends with a college bf on facebook. He’s a jerk. He’s just a jackass all around.

      I think I liked the confidence when we dated, but now, I’m just embarrassed for him. I delete his comments when he posts on my status updates.

    • Actually, I just saw my high school BF at our reunion, for the first time in maybe 15 years, and he was still adorable (okay, a bit heavier, but so am I) and not at all a jerk. My best friend decided he was the best-looking guy there. Yes, we’re both married, but still – small sigh.

    • Over the weekend, I ran into the guy I had the biggest crush on when I was 12 or 13. He is still a very sweet guy and I enjoyed catching up with him, but boy was he more attractive back then.

    • karenpadi :

      oh gosh, my ex grew a “fu manchu” mustache (long enough to dangle off his face). So ugly. So ugly. So ugly.

  4. Thanks to everyone who posted on my comment about my housing situation. I am definitely going to be looking into different strategies and figuring out what to do. It does suck – if I wasn’t losing so much $$ per month, we could very easily have a third child. But that’s a whole other thread…

  5. Gap’s premium pants are the best washable pants ever. I hate dry cleaning bills and basically lived in their modern boot this winter. I dont’ dry them and try to wash them on delicate, but i’ll admit i’ve thrown them in with regular clothes, even towels, on the regular wash cycle, and they wash so great. They are still the same color (not a faded black, a true black) and they are just all and all great.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Ditto. I really liked the Modern Boot Cut ones. I’ve found that NY & Company’s pants are also easy to wash and they go on super sale so often that I’ve been getting those instead lately. I like the ones in the city stretch fabric.

    • Wannabe Runner :

      Agree on Modern Boot! Love them. I wash them with regular stuff all the time, and the fit and color are the same as ever.

    • LinLondon :

      Fourthed! I’ve got four pairs and I love them. I wash them on regular but hang them to dry.

  6. Anon for This :

    Reposted from morning thread, because I was late to the game.

    Semi-regular poster, but going anon for personal reasons.

    I’m a new attorney, and since adolescence have suffered with anxiety symptoms. I’ve been on and off medication for the issue. I was in an “off” time (with my doctor’s blessing) up until Friday, when I had a pretty severe panic attack. I went to the ER because I was unable to breathe, etc, and was given a short-term prescription for an anti-anxiety med until I can get in to see my PCP.
    I agree that, given my level of anxiety in general in this new job, I should be trying meds again. However, the meds that are commonly used for anxiety, such as Xanax, Ativan and Klonipin, really just knock me out, and make the afternoon really difficult to navigate.
    Has anyone had good luck with other (either “emergency” or maintenance) anxiety meds? Any tips for slogging through the fog?

    • I have taken Ativan and Klonipin (and about a million other things) for insomnia and often woke up feeling groggy. I found that I did better on Klonipin than Ativan, but I assume this would be different for everyone. Therefore, my recommendation is to try different drugs at different doses until you find something that works for you. It can be a long process, but it’s really the only way to get it right.

      I’m sorry you are going through this. New jobs are so stressful (I just started one myself), and it can be tough not to get paralyzed or swallowed up with anxiety. In addition to meds, I have found breathing exercises and meditation to be extremely helpful. My insomnia is much better now, but whenever I have trouble sleeping I break out my Shakti Gawain CD and her guided visualization meditations really calm me down and let me sleep. And Andrew Weil’s relaxation breathing exercise is simple and can be done anytime, anywhere, and it works to slow a racing heart and thoughts and other symptoms of anxiety. I do breath counting too when I feel too wound up to do the relaxing breath. Here is a description:

      I hope you find something or a combination of things that work for you, and I’m sure it will get easier as you adjust to your new job.

    • Also anon for this :

      I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in my early 30s and put on a low dose of beta blockers. (Before anyone suggests diet and exercise, I’m in great shape – hypertension just runs in my family). I also had an insanely high heart rate that I always chalked up to my anxiety. The beta blockers have done wonders for me, both in terms of my heart health and my anxiety, and I’ve had zero side effects. Not sure if your doctor would consider them for you if you don’t have cardiovascular issues like I do, but something to think about. Good luck!

    • transition :

      Have you spoken with a mental health professional? Maybe you’d fair better in either that option or in a combination of talk-therapy and a much lower dose of a medication?

      • I’m new to my area, but plan on talking to my GP about a good mental health professional in my area when I go see her on Wednesday to follow up.

        The biggest issue with talk-therapy for me is not that I don’t want to do it or that I don’t think it would be helpful, but the time involved. I have a rather unpredictable and inflexible work schedule as a litigator, and I’m worried about being able to make regular therapy sessions.

        I’m also really, really uncomfortable “coming clean” to the employer about my anxiety because of the stigma attached to mental illness in general, and specifically in my office. And, due to the nature of the town I live/work in, word travels fast. Even though I know a mental health professional can’t break confidentiality, I live in the kind of place where someone would say “I saw Anon going into Psychologist’s office! Must be crazy!”

        Long story short, I think your recommendation is spot-on. I’m just not sure how to feasibly work though it without potentially “outing” myself.

        • Anon for this :

          I too suffer from anxiety and panic and only one person at work knows about it, by my choice. Therapy has done wonders for me. Wonders. If you have a grad school nearby, check to see if they have a counseling program to train the students – it’s supervised by professors, can be cheaper depending on your income, and most importantly for you, may have better hours – Saturday mornings, late evening, etc. Good luck!

        • transition :

          I’m not sure about your scheduling misc. (it’s part of why I offer skype or phone sessions, so they can be individually scheduled rather than one set time every week) but if you can afford to pay out of pocket, you’ll have additional options and your employer will never know. Remember too that a person could be seeing a mental health professional for marriage counseling, the death of a relative, stress related to work, or a zillion other reasons, so being seen in or near a building doesn’t indicate anything about why you’re there… heck, you could just be dating a psychologist or his/her receptionist!

        • I am going into Anon mode for this :

          I understand your concern, but I would encourage you to consider talk therapy and that it might be easier than you think to fit it in. You don’t have to tell anyone why you have a doctor appointment. Just make the appointment, and say, “I have to be out of the office for about an hour.” You would be surprised at how little others actually care about where we go for an hour during the day – even with a heavy schedule.

          Don’t worry about people seeing you and starting rumors. If they would notice you going into a counselor’s office, it would probably be in an office building with other offices too, so my guess is that no one could be sure where you went. Also, the person who “noticed” only would realize whose office it was if they went there too. So I am sure they wouldn’t say a word. But even if they did, don’t stigmatize yourself. Anxiety issues are difficult to deal with, and are real medical issues.

          I also highly encourage the meditation. It saved me during law school.

          I wish you all the best as you work through this. Know you are not alone. I am a busy litigator, but I have been able to work in my appointments with minimal intrusion into my work time. I am confident you can too!

        • Anne Shirley :

          Practically, early morning apointments are often easiest in a litigation practice. And many therapists around here are in general medical office buildings. So a vague- allergies- would probably provide sufficient cover.

          Not to downplay the concern, but consider also the anxiety is causing more worry about the logistics than might be necessary.

        • Anon Anxious Atty :

          I found a therapist that has 7pm appointments really close to my office, but not anywhere anyone would see me going in. I’m a litigator as well and I find that 7pm is late enough that I can leave the office at 6:40 and no one is any wiser.

          I have pretty high anxiety and occasional panic attacks, but medications have never worked for me. I’ve also done a ton of “talk therapy” but that hasn’t been very effective for me either, really. The new therapist I found uses something slightly different which involves theories about attachment (not to be confused with that attachment parenting stuff) and what patterns brains form when parents basically blow it before age 3 (addiction is usually the cause). If you google mentalization something should come up. It is very eastern thought, actually. I like it, but every time I go to therapy I discover it isn’t me that really has the issue – it is everyone else! Sounds narcissistic, I know, but the therapists usually agree and the prescription is cutting those people out of my life and making better choices regarding employers and friends.

          I would always advise paying out of pocket. Even in my big metro area, it is $100 a session and that is far less than what my insurance would increase to if I ran it through them.

          • So your therapist charges different rates depending on whether you go through insurance or not? Or have I completely misunderstood?

          • Thank you for this tip — I was just able to locate a therapist in my town that does “Emotional Brain Therapy” which sounds similar to the method used by your therapist.

          • I think almost everything has different rates for insurance and paid out-of-pocket. For my doctors, the insurance only pays like 70-80% of what they’d charge me if I were paying myself.

        • I am also a litigator. I got carpal tunnel from work and had to go to physical therapy. By being diligent with my exercises, that has stabilized. But the big upside is that my colleagues got used to me being out of the office weekly at a can’t-miss-unless-emergency appointment. So now they think I’m still going to physical therapy, but I’m really seeing a shrink. I think a vague “digestion/pulmonary/allergy/lady issues” issue would suffice as well. I agree with the others below that either late at night or first thing in the morning are the best appointments. The 6pm/7pm ones, I never seemed to be able to make. As for “being seen”… well, if they saw you because they were also going to the shrink’s office, it’s mutually assured destruction. Or if yours is at a big hospital, you could be there for any number of reasons.

        • Likewise Anon :

          Just a quick note to say that I have been in therapy for years while working as a Biglaw litigator. It’s not easy, but it is do-able. My doc is flexible re times, doesn’t freak about the fact that my schedule is not always regular, and has a super-private and discrete location. I have tweaked the schedule over the years, but generally go once every two weeks. Used to do lunches (no one batted an eye at an hour and thirty lunch, I completely avoided all traffic, and it was easy to reschedule on days that I knew just wouldn’t work – brief due, court appearance, etc.). I found evenings harder, as it’s just tough to get out of the office regularly. The fact that my office is a later office contributes to this, as we all roll in at 9 or 9:30 and staying to 7 is the norm. I currently am doing mornings, which is my favorite. I have an 8:00 appt and I’m in the office by 9:15/9:30 (earlier than on the days when I don’t have therapy!).

          I cannot stress how much therapy has done to ease my anxiety and help me cope with the job. I’m literally a different person in the office, in a good way — more valued, given more responsibility, more Zen about the whole thing. I am so glad I bit the bullet and started going.

          Also, a friend has been raving about her new anti-anxiety that she started taking after Klonopin stopped doing the trick. Buspar. Might be worth asking about.

    • Definitely talk to your doctor about all your concerns and see what he/she has to say, hopefully s/he can work with you to get a medication regimen that won’t knock you out.

      You should also consider trying meditation along with the drugs. I’m not New Agey at all, but just sitting still and being quiet for a few minutes a day really helps with my anxiety and I notice a big difference when I do or don’t make time for it. Since I needed a program to learn, I tried Natural Stress Relief. It worked pretty well for me, but I’m guessing that there are lots of methods out there that would work, so long as you are clearing your head and giving yourself 15-30 minutes a day to reflect.

    • Nervous Nellie :

      Not my usual name, as I am about to disclose medical info…

      I was diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) almost 20 years ago. I have been on and off meds and in and out of therapy since that time. I’m currently in therapy and on a maintenance med (BuSpar). The medication doesn’t provide the instantaneous symptom relief of something like Ativan (which I’ve tried in the past); instead, I find that it keeps me on a more “even keel” in general, so that I’m able to cope with daily life. I do occasionally get anxiety/panic attacks and wish that I had something like Ativan or Xanax to deal, but my doctor is not a fan. The therapy is helpful to analyze situations after the fact, but doesn’t really do much in the moment.

      I was on Inderal for a really long time (about 10 years, starting at age 15). I didn’t think it was that helpful for anxiety, but it did help reduce the frequency of my migraines, so that it why I stayed on it.

      I hope you are able to find a treatment regimen (meds and/or therapy) that works for you. I know how horrible anxiety can be!

    • I experienced a similar in the past couple of years w/blood pressure medication. I was literally falling asleep during meetings. You might try talking to your doctor about the time of day you take it and longevity of a dose. It works for me to take my medication in the evening so I can actually get up and go the next day. I had a similar issue w/Zoloft in college, and I just had to switch to a different medication (Lexapro). Good luck finding what works for you!

    • Anon for this too :

      Funny how we all post anon for this. Stupid fear of stigma.
      You should be working with a psychologist with experience with meds for this. Everyone reacts differently. I have been on Lexapro (and now its generic Escitalopram) for just over a year now. Thank god for meds! We had to do some tweaking and adjusting to get to the right dose. I used Lorazepam for a short-term/emergency med, but that stuff knocks me OUT.

      I’m never one to advocate loading drugs on top of each other. However, I’ve always been slightly spacey/easily distracted, and had what I thought was typical afternoon fog, and it got a bit worse with the Lexapro. That, among other things, got my doc asking me about ADD, and sure enough, I screened as slightly ADD. So now I have the awesome combo pack of extended-release Concerta (Methylphenidate) plus Lexapro. What a difference! I can focus all day, stay awake in the most boring of meetings, and am much more able to concentrate on complex things that used to leave me wandering off. (And I’m no slouch, I have a masters’, have been successful in my nonprofit career, etc, but two kids, less sleep, combined with increased anxiety and life in general were taking its toll for sure.)

      So, if the fog is really bad, you should be talking to your doctor. It may be that you need shorter release dosages taken throughout the day, or that you need something else. I’ve also found (again, just me, not preaching) that cutting out carbs and sugar go a LONG way in decreasing that afternoon fog.

      And yes, talk therapy. I found a therapist (different than my meds doc) who has evening hours and is flexible. I really only needed frequent sessions to get me through a tough period. She gave me lots of strategies to use, and I would like to get off the Lexapro at some point, so when I get closer to that point (again this is something I work on with my med doc) I’ll probably go back to her for more support. Meds are WAY WAY WAY more successful when combined with talk therapy.

      As an aside, consider reading “Change your Brain, Change Your Life” – that has a lot of strategies for helping calm down an anxious brain.

      Best of luck to you. Hang in there!

    • Seattleite :

      My daughter has had remarkable success with biofeedback. Her anxiety was at times almost crippling. Now she can slow her heart rate to a specified target range within about 2 minutes, and then all the other anxiety symptoms dissipate. So, if you’re considering talk therapy, maybe look for one who also does biofeedback training?

    • Ladies,

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your replies. It sounds really corny, but just knowing I’m not alone in feeling this way/having this issue (even though I knew it already intellectually) is in itself really helpful.

      Re: meditation: I remember doing yoga/meditation in law school and it helping immensely, so I’ll definitely be adding that to my list of coping mechanisms.

      I’m not as concerned about paying out-of-pocket vs. insurance in my case. My insurance comes through my husband’s federal agency, not my employer, and my rate is therefore highly unlikely to change much, at least on an individual level, if I start using it at a psychologist/psychiatrist. But I will do more extensive research on what my plan covers/does not cover/will reimburse and make a more informed decision having listened to all of you.

      And, based on your recommendations, I’m also going to check out some of the therapists in my area. We’re in a small town/extended suburbs kind of area of the country, and based on my limited research a lot of psychiatrists/psychologists have offices in their homes. Maybe this means they’d be more flexible about meeting over a lunch hour or at 6pm.

      Again – thank you. For reasons I’m sure we all know, this can be difficult and scary to talk about to my IRL friends/coworkers. I really appreciate everyone’s support.

      • alsoanonthistime :

        yes, and thank you OP for posting! I haven’t weighed in, bc Im slammed at work this morning, but I have been struggling with anxiety, too, and reading all of these responses is helping me, too! so thanks, everyone!!

      • Blonde Lawyer :

        Just in case you get this, I am also the wife of a federal employee. I’m on BCBS Fed. Basic and appointments w/ my mental health NP have no co-pay. I’m not sure about therapy co-pays. I see the NP for ADD meds.

        • Amazing. That’s our plan, too.

          Thank you for sharing that – makes me feel a lot better about scheduling an appointment. Not that cost should be prohibitive when I clearly need the help, but …

  7. Anon Analyst :

    I always wash my work pants at home. Delicate cycle with Woolite (regular) or Woolite for darks. I have the Gap Perfect Trouser Pants in black and wear them year round. The ankle length is perfect for my height (5’0″).

    I also really like the Christie fit pants from Victoria’s Secret. They’re not lined, but they fit me perfectly without any alterations. I’ve bought numerous colors throughout the years.

    I used to love the Express Editor’s, but when I went back to try them on recently, something about them just looked off on me.

  8. Dirty anon? :

    So… honestly, how often do people wash their pants? I mean, it’s good I guess to have a discussion on these varieties because some people want the convenience of washing at home, but I find I really don’t clean pants that often. Unless I spill something on them or have weird issues or something. But otherwise, they stay fairly clean and unwrinkled for awhile so the dry cleaning once every however long isn’t that bad (in terms of price and inconvenience)? Am I just weird?

    • Nope, I’m the same way (or maybe yes, and I’m weird too). That’s how I am with all of my clothes. I only wash them if they have a stain, start to smell, or start to fit badly.

      • Same here. But I probably wash my pants more often because I have shedding dogs and little ones with grubby hands.

      • Me too. I have this great personal attribute – I have no body smell whatsoever. I can probably wear something 20 times before it has any odor, and maybe not even then. And I’m super sensitive to BO, so I know when others have it. But for me, I find that I don’t need to clean my clothes because they just don’t smell.

        • Please don’t take this the wrong way, but check with friends, roommates, SOs, or whoever makes sense to make sure that you really don’t have BO after wearing something 20 times. A lot of people aren’t as sensitive to their own smell, so it is a good thing to get a second opinion on. And if you truly can wear something for 20 times with no smell, that is great and I envy your drycleaning bill.

          • Especially with pants. You may want to smell the crotch of your pants to confirm.

          • @Eww – so glad i’m not the only person who does this. I was going to post it but was afraid I’d be a freak.

        • I don’t mean this to be snarky – I’m genuinely curious – has someone other than your SO confirmed this for you? It is really hard to notice your own odor or the odor of your house…you get used to it. My SO can always tell if I haven’t washed something I wore to my mother’s house – I don’t think her house smells badly, per se, but it’s noticeably different than our home to him while I barely can tell.

        • Anonymous :

          this is hilarious and delusional

        • Ok so the people who smell… they don’t think they smell. this is the problem.

        • Two cents :

          Yeah, I know it sounds strange. And I guess I am talking about tops and dresses, not pants (agree with the crotch thing and I do wash after a few wears). I’m very very very sensitive to BO and have checked with lots of people – girlfriends, hubby of course, etc. Friends are shocked. My mom has the same body chemistry – she doesn’t sweat at all (I’m the same way) and she doesn’t smell. Again, I know this sounds delusional but I swear it’s not. :)

          • Yes, this is what A friend always said to me….to justify her skipped baths and multiple wearings sans washing. But guess what? She smelt.

          • Guess what.? The word is smelled not smelt. Smelt is a fish.

        • Senior Attorney :

          This has got to be a joke, right?

          • Senior Attorney :

            Oops. We were posting at the same time. So I will just say what my mom used ot say to me, in a variety of contexts: “I trust you if you trust yourself!”

      • Samesies.

    • Maybe every 5 – 7 wears? I only wear pants in cool weather, so I’m not sweating in them, and I find that washing or drycleaning them often makes them fall apart faster.

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one. I wear pants in the summer fairly frequently (but I’m literally walking from my car to my (freezing cold) office, so I also don’t sweat in them.

        Unless there’s a stain or a smell, the average washing for pants is probably 7-8 wears.

      • Ms. Manners :

        I misread the word “wears” as “years.”

    • I don’t think you’re weird! I’ll take it a step further — I hardly wash most of my work clothes. I have such a large collection (probably too large…) that I wear most of my outfits only every few months and it seems wasteful to wash/dry clean them after each wear.

      • Dirty anon? :

        This is me as well. I really only take work clothes to the dry cleaner if they are visibly stained, so wrinkled I can’t press them with an iron, or I have had some sort of severe sweat or body issue in them. I have a large collection too, so I guess that helps. But I’m glad to hear lots of other people don’t clean or wash clothes extremely frequently

    • Almost never wash my pants. When I spill on them, or when I take coordinating jackets to the dry cleaners (then everything is cleaned at the same time). I’ll wash jeans when they’ve started to stretch out some, but mostly its to shrink them a little, not to clean them per se.

    • This was the case for me until I had kids. Now I cannot make it through daycare drop-off, pick-up and a day’s work without getting something on my pants. Thank goodness for Express editors, which hold up great if I launder them carefully.

      • I’m right there with you. All of my washable clothes are wearing so much faster now that I have spit-up/slobber/boogers to wash off every time I wear them!

    • This is one of the reasons that I wear only one perfume. If my clothes pick up the scent (which they do, but slightly, because I don’t wear very much), they will never clash fragrance-wise with the perfume I wear the next time I wear them but before they are drycleaned. Because it is all the same perfume.

    • I am in a completely different camp. If the pants are dry clean, I send them after 2-3 wears. If they are washable, I wash after 1-2 wears. I am sort of a laundry and germ freak, though.

      • pants party :

        I definitely do the same. Out of curiosity, what do people who take public transit do? I am immensely freaked out by the filth of the seats and handles on BART. I wash everything washable after only one wear (one day) on BART, or at least set aside and wash on the second wear. Dryel or other dry cleaning as soon as possible, too.

        • Kontraktor :

          I took metro in DC and have taken BART in and out of the city for various things, and I don’t view the public transit dirt as any worse than regular dirt. I mean, offices are pretty gross places too (especially if you work in an office where the chair isn’t yours or IT frequently switches keyboards, etc). Really the whole world is dirty. In DC summers, it was true that I often got only 1 wear out of stuff due to lots of sweating and heat (but eventually I started wearing gym clothes to work and changing). But in the winter in DC I didn’t wash stuff more just because I was on the metro or busses. I can’t imagine washing or dry cleaning everything I own after one wear. I’d be broke and my clothes would probably be in tatters. I look at it like humans are pretty resilliant and public transit dirt probably poses no more risk to me than getting in an elevator full of strangers, walking along city streets, or whatever other thing I’m doing amongst massive amounts of people in close quarters.

          The only time I was somewhat nervous about public transit is when I lived abroad in a developing nation. The incidences of TB were pretty high, especially in the former prisoner population walking amongst regular people. Public transit was always utterly packed to the point of not even being able to move. So, I admit I did a TB test when I got home because of being literally smushed up in people’s boss*m’s every day while traveling. But it was negative and my doctor told me I was probably being really paranoid. I still didn’t wash clothes after each wear there though (that would have been impossible as we had to do much washing by hand).

          • Well, normally I agree with you Kontraktor, but we just recently had those study results come out about the porous fabric seats on the BART, and how the germ/bacteria levels were like crazy off the charts, and it is suuuuuper gross (don’t read the articles about it, seriously, it’s gross)… Which is why they are currently changing out the seats for less porous vinyl-ey ones. So, I do admit, I am a little more squicked out about the BART than other public transit, and I am careful about how i sit/what I touch on the BART, and yes, if I was riding every day, I think I would feel the need to wash my clothes more often.

            But everything else you said: totally agree.

          • Kontraktor :

            I don’t doubt that there are a lot of super super nasty gross public places, BART included, but eh… as I said, the world is gross and dirty. :-P If I don’t get contaminated from BART, it will probably be from something else equally as gross. It’s tough to know what avoidance tactics are useful and which don’t matter as much.

        • We are just as lazy when it comes to laundry as people who drive appear to be. Unless there are discernible odors/stains, it’s not getting washed.

        • Anne Shirley :

          I just try to remember not to lick my pants.

          Seriously though my take on this kind of germy fear has always been if I’m not getting sick I don’t need to worry.

        • Public transportation doesn’t bother me because of germs, but I suspect I am sweating more than the person going from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned office, so I have to wash my tops pretty often.

      • Me too. I can’t imagine going more than just a few wears, and really, I am surprised by how infrequently some of the posters here clean their clothes. I’m going to have to think about this some more…why DO I wash my (washable) pants after every wearing? Hmmm…

      • This is my washing/cleaning schedule, too. I’ll admit I’m kind of clean freak and apparently super sensitive to smells, though.

    • Anonymouse :

      I am pregnant, so I have to wash things more often. Being hot in summer and the whole leukorrhea thing just means that I have no other option than to launder after about 7 wears, no matter what. I hate this aspect of pregnancy!

  9. I’ve lost weight and had to buy new work clothes several times this year. The east 5th Secretly Slender pants from JC Penney have been a lifesaver. They’re washable and at $22 I can’t really fuss if I don’t end up wearing them for long because I’ve changed size again.

    The major downside for me is that they don’t have pockets.

  10. What’s up with work appropriate pants always being so flared at the leg? I like to wear flats or kitten heels because they’re more comfortable, but I feel like the flared leg makes me look short unless I’m wearing heels. I guess I’m kinda new to the suit-wearing world, but has it always been so? Is it weird to wear straight or skinny pants to work?

    • I agree – and finding good ankle length pants is hard too (especially since I’m tall.)

      • I have the same problem, but because I’m short! “Cropped” pants are never really cropped length on me!

      • BR Jackson fit comes in straight leg ankle length….

    • Agreed. I’ve discovered that straight-leg pants (Talbots or Ann Taylor, usually) really are much more flattering on me with flats than boot cuts.

  11. What’s the deal with bootcut pants? I’m petite and generally a skinny jeans and ballet flats girl (in the weekend) and I find bootcut pants make me look shorter and just weird – like my feet are wider than my hips. It’s unnatural – pants are supposed to elongate your legs! It seems I can only find straight pants in super-expensive brands.

    • 2/3 attorney :

      Depending on what your perception of super-expensive is, BR’s Logan fit pants are a straight leg and I love them (but I’m tall so ymmv).

      • Chicago 3L :

        I agree. I’m petite (5’3″) and slender and I do the Logans from Banana Republic. LOVE THEM. They are definitely a straight leg pant. As an aside, I don’t wear petite in the pants because my legs seem to be longer and I guess I have a shorter upper torso? Gap also makes a good pair of skinny slacks.

    • I’m 5’3″ and find that the Katie pants at victoria’s secret are great straighter leg slacks. I also have a pair of Anne Klein slacks that I love :)

  12. Editor pants from Express are a miracle.
    Just before I turned 30 this year, I decided that this birthday milestone deserved an upgrade to something “nicer/more grown up” than Express pants — I’ve been wearing Express pants for a decade, and associate the brand with my first ever pair of office-appropriate pants! I searched EVERYWHERE. I can’t imagine how many different brands and styles and sizes I tried on…. In the end, nothing came remotely close to the perfect fit of the Editors! I’ve finally given in, and now I only buy these (except for my suits…).

  13. How do they run? If I am a 2/4 at BR or Gap, a 4 in Theory, will I be the same at Express?

  14. I specifically look for machine washable pants so I don’t have to go to the drycleaners! Also, I work in health care, so I prefer to be able to wash my clothes in case something happens. Currently most of my work pants are from Talbots.

  15. I only have washable work pants. I don’t wash them super often, only when needed. I wash them in cold water and hang to dry. Simple. My favorite work pants are plain black wide leg knit pants with an ealstic waist. They look perfectly appropriate for work even though they don’t have pockets or a fly. Besides, I almost always wear a long jacket or cardigan and everything is covered. I love these soft knit pants because they look great, they are very very comfortable and they look perfectly dressed up with a nice top and and a pair of stiletto heels or platforms for work. Plus, they are inexpensive and look super chic brushing the floor over my heels.

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