Style hunt: Little Navy Pants

A cool-toned mix-and-match wardrobe ensemble featuring navy pants. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Last week’s styling session with the Athleta Booklyn pants reminded me of just how versatile a pair of navy pants can be. And that I’ve been wanting to find a pair or two that are a bit more structured to replace my Little Black Pants.

Left: earrings | sweater | bag | sneakers
Center: cardigan | pants
Right: earrings | top | bracelet | shoes

(Above, a cool-toned ensemble for those who have been requesting…)

Why navy? After my color analysis in 2019, I knew I wanted to move away from my dependence on black. Navy is easier to pair with the warmer, lighter hues in my palette. (And even before that, I’d been noticing that my black pieces often felt too heavy for Spring and Summer.) There’s a navy for everyone, whether your palette is cool or warm.

Granted, navy has its challenges too. Mis-matched navies can be tougher to pull off than mis-matched blacks. And matched navy separates can skew a bit frumpy unless you throw in some color, pattern, or unexpected pieces.

Navy pants: the contenders..

I’ve limited my search to styles with some stretch. They must be comfortable and preferably travel-friendly. (The last few times we’ve traveled, I wished I’d had a more polished/tailored style for evenings.) While I really like the Vince leggings, I think a trouser style would be more versatile for travel.

Here are a few styles on my short list…(I should mention that all of these are also offered in Black, if that’s your preference 🖤 )

Trouser-style

J.Crew Cameron Crop pants in Navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

J.Crew Cameron. A couple friends of mine have raved about these for years. I’d tried them in the past but felt something was off with the fit. (There are several different styles: Slim Crop, High Rise, and Full-Length. (Also different fabrics and some prints.) Most are offered in Misses, Petite and Tall sizes, 00-24.

It took a few tries to figure out which style, size and length worked for me. The Petite Crop was too short, the Petite Full-length was too long. I finally tried the Crop in the “Classic” (Regular) length, (Four-Season Stretch fabric) and liked that fit the best.

I like how these are cut. They are slim but not snug on the leg and have a tailored look. The fabric doesn’t have that rubbery feel that you find on a lot of stretch pants. It’s also very matte and has a woven look. They’re machine washable too. (I just received these a couple of days ago, will style them and share in an outfit post soon.)

Boden Richmond 7/8 Pants in Navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I keep hearing good things about these “Richmond” 7/8 length pants from Boden, so have ordered them to try. They look to be a slimmer cut than the J.Crew Cameron pants. The fabric is mostly cotton, so they might be a good warm weather option. Several colors available, in Regular, Petite and Long. (Regular and Long sizes 2-22, Petite size range is limited to 2-12. Thanks to reader Cathy for pointing this out!)

Sleek, slim leg styles

Talbots Chatham ankle pants in navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

These from Talbot’s have a nice, clean look. They’re offered in Misses, Petite with a size zip, and Plus/Plus Petite sizes with a front zip. I decided to pass on these due to the size zip.

Talbots Essex ankle pants in Navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Also from Talbot’s, these “Essex” pants are a pull-on style. They fit more like a skinny pant, but have plenty of stretch. They’re available in Misses, Petite, Plus, and Plus Petite, in a few colors. They’re currently on sale and quite budget-friendly. I wanted to love them, but due to my muscular calves they bag/bunch a little at the knee, so they’re going back.

5-pocket

Lululemon "City Sleek" navy pants. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A few of you mentioned that you liked the Lululemon “Keep Moving” pants. I took a look at those but decided I didn’t want a drawstring style. But this “City Sleek” 5-pocket style caught my eye. The fabric is heavier and more substantial than the Brooklyn navy pants, but still lightweight has that “technical” feel. (But not shiny.) They run small, so I’d suggest ordering up a size.

I’m still deciding whether to keep them. They’d be a good for travel, but skew a little more casual than what I was looking for.

Do you use navy as one of your wardrobe neutrals?

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41 Comments

  1. Robyn
    January 13, 2021 / 2:51 am

    I love navy. Having cool coloring it is a good neutral. As I age navy is a more softer choice than black. Although I do wear a lot of black. I have the Cameron pants In various styles and colors. They are perfect for work and I find myself wearing them when I’m not at work too. As I shift from tighter pants to a looser structure pant I size up two sizes in these pants. Leaning towards wider legged pants I’m attempting to find a pair that is somewhere between a wide legged pant and a trouser. Coincidentally, today I’ll be wearing a navy cashmere sweater and a pair of green Cameron pants to work.

  2. Karen
    January 13, 2021 / 3:43 am

    I’ve largely transitioned from black as my base neutral to navy. It took a couple of years and some years finding pieces was easier than others. One thing i have found is that British and European based companies tend to offer more options and choices than US ones, especially if you decide to add navy footwear.

  3. Rowena
    January 13, 2021 / 5:13 am

    Hi Susan! I am very much a navy gal now, having tried all sorts of colours throughout my life before finally realising it is actually ‘my colour’! Also, as a petite 5 foot 2, I have spent rather more time than I would like to admit shopping around for all things navy in a suitable fit. Here in the UK our petite options are very limited. Talbots used to have a London store, but sadly disappeared a few years ago and I am still a little hesitant about ordering from the US because, being a real fusspot, I tend to have to return so many of the things I order online.
    But, to get to the point, Boden is one of the few places I can rely on for the basics because it offers the different fits and, as well as the Richmond style, I would also recommend the Hampshire, which is a softer, more pliable fabric, but still very smart looking. Machine washable and doesn’t need ironing either. I like the 7/8 trouser and wear an 8 petite. I also like the fact that their navy tends to be a dark navy (sometimes called ‘black navy’), which suits me best.

  4. Molly Pollard
    January 13, 2021 / 5:22 am

    I love, love your post.
    I am 73 and 5’ 71/2” tall. I feel strange in the pants that hit above the ankle. Are longer pants just not in style?. Hitting right below the ankle is fine with me but hard to find . Any suggestions? Not into ‘high water’ pants.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      January 13, 2021 / 6:02 am

      Hi Molly, thanks! You might try the Full-length Cameron pants. The Classic has a 30″ inseam, and the Tall is 33″. Here’s the link: https://bit.ly/3bB9AWs

    • Christine Jensen
      January 13, 2021 / 3:58 pm

      Molly,
      I’m a few years younger than you and also feel ‘odd’ with pants above the ankle. Perhaps it goes back to the days when we wore what we had even though, as children do we’d grown and our pants were too short (High water pants :). Thankfully I don’t have too much of a problem with that as i am 5’1″.

      • Robyn
        January 14, 2021 / 2:41 am

        Hi, I think fuller length and wider legged pants are back in style, not sure they ever went out. I bought a pair of full length bootcut jeans and they have been my must wore jean for fall and winter.

    • Jill Ann
      January 14, 2021 / 7:36 am

      Molly, I’m the same height as you, and agree about the short pants! I sometimes order a “Tall” size if they’re available, which gives me something closer to a full length pant. I’m also long in the lower torso, so a “Tall” cut can fit me better there, too. I did this with my Athleta Brooklyn pants and it worked out very well.

  5. MWG
    January 13, 2021 / 5:24 am

    Love this post regarding navy pants and How to Style. I can easily locate items to purchase or choose new combinations from my closet. Your shoe inclusions have led me to new brands and styles. And I look forward to opening/reading your fun posts.

  6. Diane B
    January 13, 2021 / 5:46 am

    I like the Talbots pants due in part to the fact they have the side zipper. I find it so difficult to get them and wondered why you do not like the side zip? I like the little slit in the ankle and higher rise, so will have to check this out.

  7. Susan
    January 13, 2021 / 5:50 am

    Happy to see you return to this style of post. I think it’s your forte!

  8. Bette
    January 13, 2021 / 5:58 am

    I have the blue/black leopard print Franco Sarto flats you highlight at the top and absolutely love them. When I purchased them last year, I wondered if I’d ever wear them — wrong! I have worn them many, many times, with a variety of styles and colors. Yes, leopard is a neutral, even when it’s blue/black.

  9. Donna
    January 13, 2021 / 6:08 am

    The link for the first Talbots pant goes to Biden. Thanks for this “cool” post!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      January 13, 2021 / 6:17 am

      Hi Donna, sorry about that! I’ve updated it in the post, and here’s the correct link: https://bit.ly/3sw479E

  10. Karen B
    January 13, 2021 / 6:24 am

    I transitioned to navy a couple of years ago prior to a trip to Italy. Black really does nothing for me so I moved to navy and grey pants. Lots of colors go with both of them.

  11. Laura
    January 13, 2021 / 6:25 am

    I too love navy pants and have the Camerons from J. Crew. Mine hit just at the ankle (I’m 5’6″) which isn’t warm enough for winter, but during summer they are a good bet. I work in a dressy office and finding the right shoes is the real challenge. Matching navy shoes is impossible–would you use coordinating shades like grey, cognac or burgundy?

  12. Cindy
    January 13, 2021 / 6:47 am

    Thank you for sharing the navy outfits. I was so excited to see that you showed silver sneakers! I bought a pair of ECCO silver sneakers to wear with navy on an upcoming trip. I now have confidence that that will be a good look! Love your blog. Looking forward to more travel wear updates.

  13. Lisa Bruzzese
    January 13, 2021 / 7:03 am

    I love the Brooklyn ankle pants and find them perfect for traveling. They take up little space and when rolled up barely wrinkle. These were my “go to” pants for sightseeing or spending the day with my daughters in ( seems forever ago) Rome. Glad you discovered them! Never thought of styling them with a blazer. Yesterday I was able to snag the J Crew boyfriend blazer in the plaid Italian wool. It’s black and white but has a bit of pink running through it which I love. Will style them with my black Brooklyn pants and a denim shirt or pink tee if we are ever able to once again commence traveling.
    On a positive note my husband was able to get his first dose of the Covid vaccine and is scheduled next week for his second. I can’t tell you what a relief that’s been.
    No more dressing up for work. Scrubs only that are taken off in the laundry room and go straight into a washer with hot water for a double wash!

  14. Lauren
    January 13, 2021 / 7:44 am

    I wish that companies showing pants would dress their models with something other than ballet flats on their feet. This is fine if you live in a warmer climate but quite unrealistic and ridiculous where it is cold. I do see people slogging through snow in their soaked ballet flats and short pants with blue legs because they think they must do the current “in” look….nothing glamorous about that. Unfortunately there are many Bloggers who live where it is warm and people see this look everywhere….it would be helpful if Bloggers could do two versions of a “look”…..one with flat shoes bare ankles and one with boots of some kind with no ankle showing.
    I love Navy and am looking for some Navy pants but unlike you I need TALL….so seeing an option for pants that come in Tall is always helpful. I love the classics that you use as a base and looking forward to more navy 🙂

    • Lisa B
      January 13, 2021 / 9:48 am

      Living in New England I hear you! Although I haven’t seen many around here opting for ballet flats. Whenever I see a fashion blogger in flats or sneakers in winter I just mentally switch the look out and pair it with boots or a hardy shoe. We’ve been very lucky in RI with only one snowstorm. Today’s high was in the 30’s.

    • Julia
      January 13, 2021 / 12:52 pm

      I so agree with you! Pretty fed up of seeing ads for pants always with bare ankles , ballet flats or high heels. Lots of us live in cold climates so to see pants with practical footwear would be nice.

  15. Pamela
    January 13, 2021 / 7:50 am

    Thanks for mentioning the fit problem with muscular calves. That’s a problem for me too — although I shouldn’t call my exercise routine a problem. Either way, it’s always helpful to know about fit problems for muscular calves.

  16. Eve
    January 13, 2021 / 8:40 am

    If black and navy are hard to match, you haven’t lived till you’ve tried matching browns. You sure can’t trust your screen for that. I have a collection now of odd browns. Apparently caramel or toffee doesn’t mean what I think it does. LOL
    I do wear navy in the summer. I love the look of white sear sucker striped pants in navy and white with a white summer blouse. My Navy outfit and pink sandals has been a favorite for summer too. I love all colors.

  17. Sandra Murray
    January 13, 2021 / 9:11 am

    I like the inclusion of another color palate as I can’t remotely wear the colors you have switched to. Look great on you, but on this brown haired, brown eyed woman I’d look like I died and forgot to fall down

    • Jill Ann
      January 14, 2021 / 7:43 am

      Thank you for the laugh this morning! I may quote you: “I’d look like I died and forgot to fall down”. Lol!

  18. Kathie
    January 13, 2021 / 9:51 am

    I am a tonal warm palette and my wallet holds most of the Autumn colors. Navy used to be my go-to for pants (in addition to black) but neither of them work for me anymore. I followed all your helpful links but the only warm colors offered were versions of red. Its impossible to find anything in chocolate brown or a warm mid to deep tan. I found chocolate cords at Lands End and dark tan jeans at Talbot. Both are heavier than I like. I will keep looking but it seems every pair that looks to be the right color/style is the ubiquitous ponte which I won’t wear. .Love your sense of style.

  19. Cathy
    January 13, 2021 / 10:29 am

    Just a note on the Richmond pants from Boden. While they only go up to size 12 in Petite, the sizes extend to size 22 in Regular and Long. I have several pairs, they are very well made and have lasted me for years (they are cotton so I don’t wear them in the winter). However, I think Boden made small changes to the fit over time as my newer pairs differ a bit from my oldest Richmonds. Boden always has them in black and navy, along with several “seasonal” colors and prints that coordinate with their tops and jackets.

  20. Wren
    January 13, 2021 / 11:06 am

    I have a hard time finding navy pants (I call them slacks) as well as any pant dressier than jeans. Tops are so much easier to fit and find styles I like! I do have a pair of navy pants from a few years ago so I don’t know if they are still available, made by L’ior. The style is Sasha and they fit me true to size. The fabric is cotton and poly with 14% elastic so they have a nice stretch.They are denim-like in fabric but the cut makes them more tailored with a faux fly front, pull on but not at all bunchy at the waist.
    I also have 2 pairs of Athleta Brooklyn pants, navy and gun metal and love them for travel and warmer days. I feel like I am wearing a cloud when I have them on.

    • Wren
      January 13, 2021 / 2:28 pm

      Spell check must have corrected elasthane (spelling on the tag). NOT elastic!

  21. Christine Jensen
    January 13, 2021 / 11:10 am

    I was a bit ‘sad’ to see you found a great pair of trousers but they were too long. One of the people every well dressed woman should have on speed dial is her tailor. A tailor can fix a loo long length in an instant. It is good to know that you can find something that would be perfect if only the waistband was a bit smaller, the sleeves a bit shorter, the pants shorter, etc. and have a tailor correct that. Full disclosure my grandmother was a professional seamstress (back in the day), I grew up with perfectly fit shoulders, the right length in torso, properly positioned darts to fit a top, etc.

    • Lisa B
      January 14, 2021 / 7:07 am

      My grandfather was a tailor from Italy so I hear you! He was so talented that my mom would show him a picture from Vogue and he’d cut the pattern from paper and make an exact replica for her. My sister and I always had the most incredible prom dresses too. We’d tell him what we wanted he’d suggest a fabric for that dress and make it for us. I still have a camel hair coat he made me in college. Spoils you for when patterns don’t match perfectly on clothing or a sloppy sewn in zipper or hem. I miss him every day for not only his incredible talent but all the love he sewed into his clothing. Such a gift!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      January 14, 2021 / 7:25 am

      Hi Christine, yes it’s so hard to find an actual tailor anymore (as opposed to the guy or gal who does “alterations” at the dry cleaner). And with our current Covid situation, it’s not a simple thing to search one out.

  22. Chris
    January 13, 2021 / 11:37 am

    In my quest for casual comfortable pants, I’ve been tempted to wear my Eileen Fisher crepe knits. I have them in several colors. I have a new navy pair with tags still on. Before the pandemic, I would save these pants for ‘good’ outings or travel. Now I wonder if I should give myself permission to wear them in my new normal life. They launder easily, fit perfectly and are so versatile. Just the right weight and cut. Is anyone else overthinking this choice like I am? Old habits die hard!

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      January 13, 2021 / 11:39 am

      Hi Chris, I say wear them! They’re comfortable and hold up well. (I wore a pair of mine for Pilates for over a year, and they hardly showed any wear at all.)

  23. Kay
    January 13, 2021 / 1:01 pm

    That striped top is beautiful, but I also like it in the polka dot versions.

  24. Wendy
    January 13, 2021 / 11:16 pm

    I’ve also switched from black to navy, though I’m still struggling to replace my “flight” pants. Fitting pants has always been difficult.
    I’m so curious about your comment that there is a shade of navy for everyone. Could you possibly offer an example of a warm versus a cool navy?

  25. Cat
    January 14, 2021 / 3:12 pm

    Navy is my go to color, so I loved this post. Anything blue works for me. I also appreciate the full length pants instead of the ankle lengths. Thanks for all your helpful suggestions and shopping research. I am a cool summer so have different wardrobe needs from you, but I always learn something from your posts. You are always so stylish but in an approachable way. Thanks.

  26. Cathy D.
    January 14, 2021 / 4:18 pm

    Like many others, I am switching from black to navy. I still wear black on the bottom from time to time, but won’t buy any more. My most useful navy pants (aside from dark denim) are the crepe slim pants from Eileen Fisher that someone else mentioned. While the style is available, the color isn’t made now. Perhaps they will come back.

  27. Diana P
    January 14, 2021 / 8:16 pm

    Thank you so much for the cool colors post!
    As I get older, I find navy much more to my liking than black although I have so much black and will keep wearing it.

  28. January 15, 2021 / 2:36 am

    I found two of such blue trousers at the Max Mara outlet in Turin in 2019, when we were still allowed to travel… Sigh.
    Greetje

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