My friend Heidi has been trying to rebuild her wardrobe for several months. Today she went looking for pants and, things did not end well. I was kind of afraid for the salespeople since she had just finished shooting at the range. Since we don't want anyone to get hurt, let's establish a few shopping rules when shopping for pants. *I freely admit that finding great pants also frustrates me, which is probably one reason I prefer to wear skirts and dresses.*
1) Allow yourself plenty of time. The key to finding clothes you love is taking the time to find what you like and what you don't. That means you have to physically try everything on in all sorts of sizes. The last time I looked for jeans, I tried on jeans for at least an hour or two. Really look at what you are seeing-with pants and jeans, take a look at the front (is anything pulling or whiskering), look at the rise in the back, look for gaps in the waistband. And, of course, the jumping and squatting tests are crucial to finding a great pair of pants.
2) Do NOT pay attention to sizes. Sizes vary wildly from store to store, and even style to style. This is especially important if you have an in between body- for example, I am tall and fairly skinny. While you may think that is desirable when pants shopping, I assure you it is not. Almost all my pants are altered because I have yet to find a pair that instantly fit. If you have wider hips or larger thighs, look for pants that are cut curvy or wider in those areas and alter them to fit your waist.
3) Look for the silhouette. To the extent you can, try not to look at what is trendy or pay attention to price, find something you like and that flatters you and buy that. It is a lot easier to buy clothes once you know what silhouettes work for you. I like straighter legs and a tailored pant, so I look for those types of pants. If you have size issues with your hips, thighs, or butt, go for a flared leg pant. Flared legs provide balance between your top and bottom. Look for words like- "shaped hip and thigh" or "relaxed through" leg and read the reviews.
4) No crops. Ever. This is a piece of fashion advice I have long believed in, even more since Tim Gunn thinks the same thing. Cropped pants do not look good on most people and tend to cut women at weird points. Unless Heidi Klum is reading this, do not wear cropped pants.
Heidi is looking for jeans and khakis-though I argue against khakis. I think black or gray pants are a much better purchase. She asked for some places to shop. Normally I stick with J Crew for pants. (I used to swear by Banana Republic and Gap, but I had a terrible customer service issue with their pants and will never shop there again.) I suggested expanding her search to: Nordstrom-awesome shopping service, Lands End Canvas, Eddie Bauer, The Limited, Zara, and Ann Taylor Loft. Here are a few styles I found at those stores: Blakely Fit from Eddie Bauer; The Limited Wide Leg Cassidy. If you have a great pair of pants, leave them in the comments. I know Heidi will read them!
The most important shopping rule- It's not life or death, it's just pants.