How To Wear Utility Pants - une femme d'un certain âge


Susan B. wears a fuzzy trucker jacket and tan utility pants. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Who says a column of color has to be black? 😉

A Casual Look With Utility Pants

I wanted to show you how these utility pants look on someone who doesn’t have model proportions. I’m 5’1″, 120 lbs. and a size 4-6. I’m wearing the OP/4-6 in Chico’s sizing.

Jacket | Scarf (similar) | Sweater | Pants | Sneakers

Utility pants seem to be on-trend this season, as part of a larger Safari theme. They’re not usually a style I gravitate to, as they can either skew too “rugged” or have a cut that doesn’t work for me. But I really like this particular pair, and find them easy to style and comfortable. I’ve been wearing them often the last few days, and you’ll probably be seeing them again. 😉

This jacket has (oddly enough) turned out to be a real workhorse for our not-quite-Winter-not-quite-Spring weather. I’ve been wearing it almost daily. Jackets are at the top of my Wardrobe Wish List, and I’m keeping my eyes open for more options as Spring merchandise rolls in. The scarf is a vintage Chanel that I’ve had for several years. It’s a smaller size, which I’ve tied neckerchief style.

I’ve been struggling with putting together outfit posts lately. I haven’t had regular access to a photographer in over a year, and have been shooting my “sidewalk catwalk” shots on my own with a tripod and a remote. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate (too much wind yesterday) hence the indoor mirror selfie. I’m ready for something new and hoping to have a little more help behind the lens soon.

Susan B. wears Paul Green slip-on sneakers with yellow accents. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

In the past few months, I’ve gone from “not a Sneaker Gal” to owning several pairs and wearing them often. I’ve been on the lookout for a classic white style, but with interesting details. That these also slip on was icing on the cake. They’re from Paul Green, so a bit spendy, but they are well-made, light, and have good arch support. I think these run a little large, and sized down ½ size. Here’s a more budget-friendly option that also has some color accents.

Not A Model

Here and on other blogs and social media spaces, I sometimes read feedback that “xyz only looks good on a model,” or “why don’t you show the clothes on older/different sized women.” I get that it can be frustrating when clothing is only shown on a single body type that isn’t reflective of how most of us are built. Some retailers have begun to include images with women of different sizes (Everlane, Madewell, and J.Crew come to mind).

I hope retailers will continue to be more inclusive with their images. But in the meantime, it’s helpful to remember that just because something looks different on us than on the model, it doesn’t mean that how it looks on us is wrong. We may have hips, boobs and/or tummies, or may just have different contours or proportions. Yes, we should pay attention to fit and quality. But we all have unique bodies and unique beauty, which we can embrace and enhance. Every piece won’t work for every woman, so it’s about finding our own best colors, cuts, and styles.

More utility pants options:

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  1. Linda J.
    March 2, 2020 / 4:17 am

    I love your outfit and your post. I am 5’3″ and 118. I exercise regularly so I have muscular thighs and I know I need a curvy fit, if it doesn’t say curvy I know I will have that weird gap in the back of my waist. I also have short legs and a long torso so I also look for high rise. It’s hard to find curvy high rise cropped pants (I can’t wear petite so I looked for cropped), but some retailers are starting to get better with different fits. Like you said it’s knowing what looks good on your body. The color of those pants is awesome by the way.

  2. Ann in Missouri
    March 2, 2020 / 5:11 am

    Absolutely agree with everything you said about the diversity and loveliness of human bodies. After four years of yoga practice I have really come to appreciate this.

    Thanks also for showing another color of column. Even though I *know* something is true, sometimes I have to SEE it to really be persuaded. Learning is an interesting, multi-faceted affair, isn’t it?

  3. Avicennia
    March 2, 2020 / 5:16 am

    These new colors are excellent on you! The mint green scarf is lovely. I’m glad you have found your stride color wise.

  4. Rosie
    March 2, 2020 / 6:00 am

    You look adorable! Agree, we all have unique beauty. Taking a peek at your personal journey, has helped me on mine. Thank you for your post.

  5. Denise
    March 2, 2020 / 6:07 am

    I’m curious if the Chicos utility pant is mid rise? I’ve searched online and even called the store (no call back with an answer which was odd)
    I’m assuming it is, but do not want to order if not….since I’m very short waisted.
    Thanks so much!

    • Susan Blakey
      March 2, 2020 / 6:18 am

      Hi Denise, the rise on my pair is 9″. I’m short waisted too, and these sit just at the bottom of my navel, at my natural waist.

  6. Lisa B
    March 2, 2020 / 6:09 am

    I love doing a column of color too. Unfortunately that tends to be all black. Trying also to work some color into my wardrobe. There was a year where I felt really out of shape and bought only black EF clothing and all elastic waist pants. This year I purchased some white J. Crew jeans, the ones you recommended, and am looking for an all white sweater to wear with some behind coverage. Found a white vince tunic that I like but it may reach my knees as their pieces usually dwarf me. I carry most of my weight from the waist down so I wouldn’t wear anything with extra pockets or ornamentation such as utility pants but definitely on board with the one color tone.

  7. March 2, 2020 / 6:34 am

    Agree that this style jacket is very versatile., and the column of color is great on you. I bought a cropped navy jacket in that curly texture in Paris last fall and like it very much. Can wear it like a blazer or as a light jacket when the weather isn’t too harsh. Have a great trip to Mexico!

  8. Rita
    March 2, 2020 / 6:50 am

    It’s nice to see pants in a color that is NOT black, grey, or navy! I hope this is the beginning of a trend! I’ve been searching for brown pants for a long time.

  9. Lyn
    March 2, 2020 / 6:59 am

    I really like my Chicos ponte pants, but I wonder about the seam down the front of the leg in your less-stretchy utility pants. Do you feel it?

    Meanwhile, I like the column of color with a pop of something different. And that jacket looks so cozy!

    • Susan Blakey
      March 2, 2020 / 7:03 am

      Hi Lyn, thanks! No, I don’t feel it at all.

  10. Lagatta de Montréal
    March 2, 2020 / 7:46 am

    I didn’t catch the part about your trip to Mexico. Where are you going? There are direct flights between Montréal and CDMX (Mexico City) now. Yes, that column works and the colours suit you. I have enough burgundy/red/deep violet to make a column with no black, and am ordering burgundy/bordeaux Josef Seibel walking shoes, similar to sneakers but a bit dressier.

    I’m lusting after this for warmer weather: But she’s a model, and I’d have to have it shortened a bit or I’d trip. Been there done that in early 20s. Not now.

    I think Prana began in California. They are fair trade and this is eco hemp and cotton. I have a knee-length denim blue skirt from them in similar fabric and like it very much for travel. It also has pockets.

    By the way, several of their garments often come in plus (a fairly large plus, as they go up to XL in their regular sizing, and their sizing is not skimpy).

    I’d love to do a green column, but find it hard to find forest green or another green that is on the cool side, but not teal. No cargo pants though; I’m about the same height as you but relatively long-waisted; short legs.

  11. Rondi
    March 2, 2020 / 7:57 am

    Very nice outfit. I love the smaller scarf also. I am glad you brought up the model issue. I assume that designers feel their clothes look best on tall, thin, young women. And so the whole fashion industry revolves around this attitude. Can you imagine what this world would be like if that were not the norm? Madewell, for example, allows you to choose from 3 different size models when shopping online. But there are so few older models. At least mannequins in stores are ageless!

  12. Lily
    March 2, 2020 / 8:46 am

    I like to see how clothing looks on a model. These women are paid to sell a garment. If the item looks dowdy on a pro there’s no chance it will look good on a mere mortal.

    Great looking pants. Find myself sick of jeans lately.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      March 2, 2020 / 6:15 pm

      I have nothing on earth against models, but your comment gives me pause. They are mere mortals as well, as are you, I and any sentiment beings in your household. The only trousers I wear other than old comfy polar fleece things and such I’d never wear outdoors are petite “sculpting jeans” from Reitmans (an ordinary mainstream chain,) and I buy them a size large so they don’t “scupt”. Waist much smaller than hips, whatever size I happen to be.

  13. Lee Rosenthall
    March 2, 2020 / 1:52 pm

    You look FANTASTIC in those pants! I’ve done well with Chico’s trousers of late. If anything, they run big.

    FWIW, J.Jill is showing a lot of nice yellows this spring. I thought immediately of you, Susan, when I saw their “curry,” “yellow ochre,” and “dandelion.” Not sure about the quality, but the styles mostly look good on the website and in the catalog (on tall leggy models, of course!).

  14. Coach Laura
    March 2, 2020 / 3:44 pm

    Great post Susan. Talbots offers all of its items in Plus. I usually look at the Plus photo instead of the Misses because I’m a bit pudgy and short and I think that it will look more like the Plus version on me, rather than the rail-thin model and even though I always buy the Misses version. Although most Plus size models are pears and I’m an apple so the fit isn’t the same but more the general idea of fit.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      March 7, 2020 / 5:04 pm

      Moi aussi, Laura, though I’m an hourglass – admittedly an hourglass that is a bit saggy at my age. I’ve lost weight and all my jeans are too large in the waist. I take Petites in bottoms, Standard in tops, though often the sleeves are too long.

  15. Juti
    March 2, 2020 / 4:25 pm

    Thanks for showing this outfit! I bought a pair of jeans just that color earlier this year, then lost the courage to wear them because they’re out of my comfort zone. Now, seeing you in this and having read your recent post about body image, I might get them out and give them a spin. Your blog always leads me to try new things.

    That little turquoise scarf does the trick!

  16. Anon
    March 2, 2020 / 6:28 pm

    And a column of color does not have to be precisely the same shade.

  17. Blyma Wolpin
    March 2, 2020 / 9:54 pm

    Great look on you, Susan! I would not have picked those pants, given my particular body, but they look great, and now I’m reconsidering. Love the glasses as well. You hit that sweet spot of casual/comfortable looking and put-together. Brava! Let’s hear it for non-black columns of color!

  18. Jan Whichard
    March 2, 2020 / 10:17 pm

    I love this post Susan. You are quintessentially adorable, cute, smart and totally fun! Plus, I adore your “selfies”. I am a spring so your photos are really helpful to me as I wave goodbye to most of my dark clothes.
    I’m off to Romania and a trip up the Danube in July so I’m hoping for a spring palette summertime packing list!
    Great post!

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      March 7, 2020 / 5:06 pm

      I do hope you’ve donated them or sold them (at a deep discount) to someone who loves dark clothes.

  19. Janet D.
    March 2, 2020 / 10:25 pm

    Love these pants, Susan! The styling, the fit, the colour, everything about them. I especially like them paired with the sweater you show here — that caramel colour is almost good enough to eat & the aqua scarf is the perfect foil. What a great outfit! I’ve decided I need a pair & plan to wear them with a toffee coloured turtleneck sweater I already own under a black leather jacket & either caramel or black leather booties (I have an abundance of both, leather boots & jackets being a major addiction). I’ve never gotten the hang of wearing a scarf with any kind of grace, but do wear lots of jewelry & think turquoise & silver would work well with this colour combo. Thank you for a major inspiration! I never thought anyone would be able to drag me out of my beloved black, but you’re managing to do it!

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