Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
“Where can I buy pants that aren’t jeans” is a question that hits my Twitter feed en masse once the temperature drops below 65 degrees. And everyone who’s wondering where to go and what to buy is right when they say that shopping for pants is kind of the worst.
But it can be done! And it doesn’t have to happen at Zara, though I’d argue that’s a very great place to start. Good pants don’t have to cost a lot of money — and they also don’t have to be boring. There’s a crazy rumor flying around that if you’re “not tall” or “not cool,” you can’t wear culottes. I’m 5’2” and I go to Starbucks every single day, so I assure you, you do not need to be tall or cool to pull them off.
Below, here’s where I think you should shop for pants.
I know! It’s the most obvious answer. But I really do think they make great pants (and sweaters, too). I hopped on board the direct-to-consumer train very late (because I was lazy, prefer shopping IRL, and am a little cheap), so I’m currently at peak-enthusiasm about Everlane. The Premium Wool Flannel Cropped Pant ($125) is just a really easy investment if you want a normal pair of work pants.
However, seams down the leg can be a little tough if your hips and thighs are wide (more often than not, this particular shape it doesn’t work for my body), so if that’s the case for you, too, try the Track Pant (also $125), which is a little more forgiving.
And this is the second most-obvious answer. But you know what? There’s a reason why everyone you know probably shops here. I personally like Aritzia a lot, but I will say that everything always feels like it costs $60 more than it should, which is why I wait for the sales. Like 99% of the store, the pants selection is solely neutrals (black, navy, charcoal, etc.), but there’s something fun about most them that keeps it from being boring.
The thing that’s great about COS is almost everything here looks a lot more expensive than it is. And prices are actually relatively reasonable. I bought a pair of black wide-leg pants ($115) at the tail end of the summer and routinely get told that they look “expensive,” which is nice.
In addition to those, I really like the Slouchy Tailored Trousers ($115) — because even though they’re big, they sit right on the waist, and that keeps them from getting sloppy — and the Linen-Wool Culottes ($125), because I’ve already established I am pro-culotte.
Recommending Theory for work-appropriate clothing is like recommending the ocean for a swim. It’s a no-brainer, but I do think the brand has come a long way in the past few seasons (I used to find it very, very boring).
Right now, Theory has pretty much every type of pant that’s ever existed available for purchase. If you’re looking for something fitted, the Slim shape comes in a bunch of different fabrics, including stretch wool (like these, for $285) and the flares (like this black-and-white version for $365). Oh, and these wacky culottes ($495).