essentials: black pants


Black jeans are a versatile dress-up/dress-down choice. Source


Given free rein, I’d probably wear jeans every day. But there are days at the office and the occasional social event that require a bit more formality, and in those instances, black pants have become my go-to outfit starting point. Every woman has her wardrobe essentials, and black pants have become one of mine.

I have three pair in my wardrobe that have me covered for just about any occasion.

Vince strapping trouser

The dressiest of the three are these Vince “Strapping” Trousers. They’re a very lightweight wool, and nicely tailored. There’s a band of fabric along the outside seam that adds a bit of structure and (I think) makes the pants drape well. I frequently wear these to the office on “meetings” days, but they also dress up with a velvet jacket or something sparkly on top for more festive occasions.

Eileen Fisher Rock Star Pants

Next on the formality hierarchy are these Eileen Fisher Ponte Knit “Rock Star” pants. Yes, they have 5-pocket styling, but I tend to wear longer tops over them, so they present as a slim black pant rather than a jean. These are the “dressy pants” option I travel with, as they are comfortable, non-bulky and washable (hand wash, line dry). I will say these are cut smaller than other Eileen Fisher styles, so you may want to size up. I’m so glad Eileen Fisher brings these back every year. My first pair held up well for a couple of years, and I’ve just replaced them.

Frame denim le skinny crop

These black denim jeans (Frame Denim “le skinny crop”) are the most casual of the three, but with the right shoes and other outfit components, they can look surprisingly polished. These have a decent amount of stretch, but can be worn all day without bagging, and run true to size. The mid-rise hits right below the navel.

Do you have any old-faithful black pants? How do you dress them up?


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  1. KPL
    December 4, 2014 / 4:26 am

    I have two pairs of black jeans, Stilt by AG, and Frame (like yours) – I love them both, and since I don’t work in an office, I rarely have to be dressier than that. If I do it’s for a wedding or something like that – and then I wear a dress.

  2. December 4, 2014 / 5:06 am

    I have black “dressy” pants that I seldom wear because they need dry cleaning. I do wear my black jean-leggings all the time, they’re a staple.

  3. Duchesse
    December 4, 2014 / 5:32 am

    Just re-upped the black jeans and also have 2 pr of techno pants by Lole, Like Patti, I no longer want dry-cleanable pants, so it’s jeans or washable techo fabric all the way!

  4. December 4, 2014 / 6:34 am

    I have two pair right now, and I agree with you that they are an important staple. Mine are a pair of J Crew’s Maddie in an amazingly comfortable bi-stretch fine wool and a pair of JBrand coated (so slightly shiny in some lights) skinny jeans — a bit dressier than your average jean. (actually, now that I think of it, I also have a pair of black velvet leggings/skinnies tucked away somewhere — have to hunt those out pronto, ’tis the season!)

  5. December 4, 2014 / 7:11 am

    I wear black pants or leggings pretty much every day. Love the new techno fabrics (a la Duchesse) but don’t have any yet.

  6. December 4, 2014 / 7:18 am

    Love those Vince pants. In retirement, so far I’m only wearing black pants to dress up, and then they are J. Crew cropped silk ones.

  7. Laurie
    December 4, 2014 / 7:32 am

    I have so many pairs of black pants that I would hijack your blog if I described them all. So let me say they range from formal wool slacks for work to “trouser” jeans to nicer skinny jeans to Levi’s and ponte-knit pants for travel. I have black cropped skinny jeans and polished cotton ones for summer. I’ve just started wearing jeans with heels (thank you!) and it has opened up a new world of possibilities.

  8. Hostess
    December 4, 2014 / 8:05 am

    I own a knit pair of Eileen Fisher pants and a pair of black denim jeans which are g21, really inexpensive but they fit well and are super versatile. Both will be coming to Paris with me! I plan to wear the EF pants on the plane as they are so very comfy. I love love love black pants!

  9. Marisa
    December 4, 2014 / 12:08 pm

    If the situation calls for the “formality” of a black pant, then I’m wearing a skirt. Loathe pants.

  10. Marie
    December 4, 2014 / 5:17 pm

    I’m tall, so I depend on just a couple of brands that either run long or have tall sizes. Here’s what I’ve got right now for black pants, in ascending order of casualness:

    An ancient pair of Calvin Klein “skinny” black jeans that are actually more straight-leg than skinny. I wash them in cold water, and they look as new as the day I got them.

    Banana Republic Sloane fit Slim Ankle Zip Pant. Love, love, love the way these fit, and they are wearing like iron. I do dry clean them.

    J Crew Minnie pant in bistretch wool. Also dry clean, but I’ve been impressed with how they shed wrinkles in between wears, so not as much cleaning or pressing required.

    I also used to have a pair of black linen-blend pants for summer that I loved, but I wore them out. Will be looking to replace them.

  11. December 4, 2014 / 6:35 pm

    I love my J.Jill cropped pants, in black of course. They are a little fuller around the cropped hem, hang nicely (I’m a rather perfect size 8) and look dressier than most. I wear only ballet flats or at most a 1″ heel, ever, so these are perfect. I was introduced to the Loft jeans last winter, thanks to my daughter, and love, love , love them! Fit perfectly, wash nicely, travel well. I also wear Loft leggings which have lasted me for several years…

  12. Krys Anton
    December 4, 2014 / 7:33 pm

    My colouring is warm so I stay away from black. My equivalent comes in dark brown or navy. If I need to be dressed up I will eschew pants and go for a skirt or dress.

  13. December 5, 2014 / 4:34 am

    Thanks for showing these different options because for me black slim cut trousers are my “jeans”. The Eileen Fisher pants are really beautifully cut and her petite size always means they fit just right.

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