Adventures in Pants Shopping with becca

If there is one item of clothing I have a hard time shopping for it's dress pants. Pants never fit right and usually point out figure flaws that may not even be there.

Also, I'm in between lengths. At 5'7" I'm not tall enough for many talls but not short enough for regulars. The leg on the talls is the right length, but the top of the pant is usually too long and ill fitting. Usually I end up trying on every pair of pants in three sizes and two lengths, but none of them ever fit or even meet requirements for reasonable tailoring.

This means that pants shopping requires a great deal of support. If the pants need to be a specific style or color, then the shopping trip requires support and the promise of chocolate when it's all over. This is exactly the trip I embarked on last week.

Here are my top 10 tips for pants shopping:

1. Find a good friend, one who will be honest enough to say the pants don't fit and kind enough to remind you that it's the pants fault, not yours, and there will be chocolate later.

2. Wear good underwear. Make sure they aren't too small or too big and make sure it's a kind you will wear often (if all your underwear fits weird go underwear shopping before you go pants shopping). So don't wear a thong is you never wear thongs. You can avoid Visible Panty Line (VPL) with full underwear.

3. Wear clothes you would wear with the pants like a dress shirt and pumps. I recommend bringing a camisole along for smoothing things out.

4. Know what you are looking for. Do you want a wide leg pant? Cigarette pant? Do you want gray or brown? Do you need a relaxed fit that's loose through the hip and thigh or are you looking for something to fit your thinner frame?

5. Consider embellishments, prints, and fabrics. Do you like shiny buttons on the back pockets? Are you cool with pinstripes? Do fabrics like Viscose make you itch? Are you willing to make dry cleaning part of your laundry routine? Would you prefer linen and cotton for the summer over polyester and wool? These questions will help narrow the field.

6. Decide where to shop. I recommend trying a lot of stores, but do a little online research to see what store may have what you are looking for. This will keep you from wandering aimlessly from store to store and buying easy finds like dresses instead of pants.

7. When you arrive at the store find a sales associate. Tell them what you are looking for. They should know their merchandise and be able to help you. I went to Express because I had a coupon, but the did not have any pants made out of natural fibers. I'm not paying $90 for polyester and rayon blend. The associate told me up front that I wouldn't find much, made a few helpful suggestions and simplified the whole process.

8. Try things on. Try them on in the store not at home, which is how ill-fitting clothing creeps into wardrobes. Sit in the pants. Walk around. Squat. Pretend you've eaten too much. Bend over. If they ride up, dig in, fall down, reveal too much when bending, or make funny gaps and bulges, then they do not fit. Put them back. Also, consider stretch and shrink factors as well.

9. Know what you are willing to tailor. Finding a store that does tailoring simplifies things. You may only want to hem pants, or you may be willing to have other bits tucked or let out.

10. If you find a pant you like go ahead and buy other colors and prints. Many stores have a variety of styles in one fit so explore those other styles and see if you like them. Good pants are hard to find so stock up if possible.

I eventually ended up at Ann Taylor Loft where the pants are often on sale and cost less than Express. I also found a wealth of natural fibers. I still had length problems, but I'm on the right track.

What are your pants problems? Do you have any tips?

Marisa Flare Leg Twill Pants $29.99 at Ann Taylor Loft


Anonymous said…
My solution to the pants problem is wearing skirts. But this isn't very helpful.

I get them so they fit in the waist, and the rest I can get tailored. They tend to end up fitting me the best that way.
Rachel said…
Yep, shopping for pants is hard- I wish I was there to help!

I have to find a new pair of jeans soon... and some chocolate.
Becca said…
Hi Becca,
I agree with finding a tailor. I have a pile of items waiting to go now. Usually a hem is not too pricey. As a self professed Michael Kors fan, his advice to a stellar wardrobe is to have everything tailored to fit you :)
Anonymous said…
I usually follow Vicki's "solution" of skirts, but when I need pants, I search out any talls that I can find. The ones that don't look too horrid or cost too much get purchased.

Anonymous said…
Hey great list becca, i should print this out and take it with me when i go shpopping so i don't forget:) bethany

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