Shopping: The Search for Perfect Pants

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed that most of the items I buy and wear are skirts or dresses. I’m not opposed to pants, per se, but over the years, pants shopping has been a bit of nightmare, so I’ve pretty much stuck with skirts. There are a few reasons why I particularly dislike shopping for pants: my height and the reign of skinny jeans and very slim-fitting pants. I just don’t feel comfortable in the style.

My height doesn’t necessarily make finding the right leg length a problem, but it does make getting the rise right an issue. Although a lot of clothing brands offer tall sizes, they simply seem to add a few inches to the inseam and call it a day. I don’t need 36 or 37-inch inseams. I need about an inch more in the rise of the pants to get a comfortable fit.

Still, winter is coming, as they say, and I thought it might be nice to have more than an pair of jeans for those particularly chilly days, when a skirt and wool tights just aren’t warm enough. Thus began the great pants hunt of 2015. I went through five pairs, which I guess isn’t that many, before I found the ones.

First up:

Madewell Flea Markets Flares (Rollins Wash)


I tried on a pair of Madewell’s Flea Market Flares over the summer and wasn’t particularly enthralled by them. That pair was a classic blue jean denim and the summer was just getting under way, so I knew I wouldn’t get much wear out of them for the next few months. But, as fall rolled around, Madewell introduced the flares in a few more washes including a black denim. Since I’ve always been a fan of black jeans, I thought I’d give them a try.


They were just a bit too short – giving me flash backs to middle school and all the kids asking me where the flood was. Yikes. No thanks. As it turns out, the black denim (or Rollins Wash) flares are a bit shorter than the other Flea Markets – for whatever reason, they have a 33 inch inseam. The flare at the hem is also less wide – measuring about 21 inches around. They also felt a bit tight in the waist and thighs in my usual size 28.

So, those jeans were a wash. Perhaps, I should try some trousers:

J.Crew Full Length Pant in Wool

Damn. These pants sold out quickly. J.Crew doesn’t really offer full-length pants, so I guess when they did, everyone jumped at the chance to buy a pair. Particularly the aubergine (dark purple) color, which at first sold out in my size, then came back and quickly sold out again.









I managed to order the purple pants in my usual size (6) and, just to be on the safe side, since the reviews said the pants ran small, I got a size 8 in the black (the purple 8’s were all gone).

The purple pants would have been perfect, except for the rise. It was just a touch too short, like seriously, all I need was another 1/2 inch. The black pants were a bit roomier and sat lower on the waist because of that (these are meant to be high-waisted trousers). They still look nice, but I think the baggier fit of them made them a bit less flattering than their purple cousins. The inseam, 34 inches, was fine on both pairs.

Jcrew_full_length_wool_pant_black-side Jcrew_full_length_wool_pant_aubergine-side








Aside from the fit of the pants, there was one other issue, and that was that they were an unlined wool blend. The blend was just a touch scratchy, even in the looser pair. So I sent both back.

Which brings me to pants pair no. 3:

Theory Garetto Pants

Back in college, I had these stretchy black, flare-leg pants from New York & Company. I think that sentence gives you a fair idea of when I was in college. Anyway, although that sounds awful, those pants were great. They were very comfortable but still looked professional enough for work. When I saw Theory’s Garetto pants, which are made out of a stretchy knit ponte, I was reminded of those NY&Co. ones.


The big difference being that Theory’s pants were almost $300 (originally, I got then for 50% off from Saks) and I probably got the NY&Co. ones for less than $30. The other big difference being that the Theory pants had a hook and tab and a zipper closure and my favorite pants of old were pull-on.


So, by now, you might have guessed the issue with these pants. They look fine. The length is fine (35″ inseam). I really liked the stretchy fabric. I got them in an 8 and the rise was just too short. I was able to pull them a bit lower on my hips, but then I got that muffin top thing going on and that just wasn’t a good look. Back they went.

Finally, the winner:

Madewell Flea Market Flares (Kenner Wash)

Hey, you might be saying, I thought the flares didn’t work out for you. Well, as it turns out, not all Madewell flares are the same. The same jeans in the Kenner wash, or dark rinse denim, are completely different from the jeans in the Rollins wash.


These are longer and the flares are wider. They don’t look like flood pants when I wear them with a 1-inch heel.

I’ll admit, at first I was nervous that the jeans were a bit too flared and I looked like I fell out of 1975 or something. But I had a chat with the associates at Madewell and they assured me that they didn’t look too dated. They also showed me that hemming the pants would give me that flood look I wasn’t going for, so thanks to them for that. I’m always impressed by how helpful the associates are at Madewell stores.

So, now I have my jeans for the winter, and I’m happy. I’ll be adding them to my winter capsule – more to come about that in the next post!

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