I know you were hoping I would talk about something more exciting, like sparkly shoes or red lipstick, but alas, I’m over here talking about (yawn) black pants. (Or dark neutral pants, if black’s not your thing.) It can be easy to dismiss, as I did for years, the important role that wardrobe essentials can play in your wardrobe, until you don’t have them.
Throughout my 20s, black skirts filled the role that black pants now play in my wardrobe. I lived in Miami, after all. I had black skirts of every description, from metallic to pleated to faux leather to sweater knit to… you get the idea.
What I never owned was a basic black skirt.
After I moved up to Boston, pants became mandatory, and so I quickly acquired some in faux leather and denim and the ubiquitous 90s pull-on knit flare, but still, no go-to, go with everything black pants.
Until my first pair Theory pants entered the picture. For my lifestyle as a fashion magazine editor, these pants checked all the boxes. They were chic and effortless and made my legs look super long.
When I put them on, I felt equally at home rubbing shoulders with the editors of Vogue as I did running around the streets of the Back Bay, where I lived.
They were perfect. And 20-something years later, they still are.
Now that’s a solid investment.
However, these days, my lifestyle calls for a different kind of black pant, the kind that can go from client appointments to shopping to shuttling my kids around, with ease, comfort, and style. And, let’s face it, fabrics have come a long way in 20 years.
So here, my review of the best basic pants based on my recent try-on haul! All of the pants are linked below, but to see them all in one place, check out this catalog!
Best All-Around Basic Pant: The Everlane Dream Pant, $78
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. :)) I can’t say enough good things about the Everlane Dream pants, and my only regret is that I waited so long to try them. They truly live up to the hype. Here are the features of my fave:
- Thick, yummy double-knit fabric that looks polished but feels like sweats
- Machine washable and won’t wrinkle. At all.
- Leg silhouette that works on all body types
- Elastic waistband for comfort but a smooth look for dressing up
- A 26.5 inch inseam that is the perfect full length pant for me at 5’2.5″ but an ankle length for a taller woman
- Roomy pockets (!)
- Comes in 4 colors (heathered gray, slate, forest, and black) and 2 versions with white side stripes
- Size ranges from XXS (like a 000) to XL (14-16). These run true to size. I am wearing an XS for reference.
You can shop them right here.
Best Ponte Knit Pants: Betabrand Flares, $68
Originally billed as the “yoga pant dress pants” the Betabrand pants are the ones I didn’t want to like, but ended up loving. They are made of a thick and stretchy ponte knit (with 4-way stretch) that is form-fitting but flattering.
- Wrinkle resistant
- 9″ front rise in size small
- Come in black, navy, gray and khaki as well as a subtle pattern called Savile
- Lengths include Short Petite, Petite, Regular and Long
- Run true to size and come in a wide range from XS to 3X
- Available in Skinny Leg, Bootcut, and Straight Leg
- Faux pockets front and back
- Non-functional button and faux fly
Best Classic Dress Pant: find. Women’s Standard Straight Leg Trouser, $25
These are my choice for a classic, polished yet still comfortable dress pant. These are made of a comfortable poly blend that is machine washable and doesn’t wrinkle easily. Unlike the two above, which are knits, this is a woven material with a drapey texture.
- Poly, viscose and elastane blend
- Available on Amazon’s Try Before You Buy program
- Very affordable
- Machine washable
- Size ranges from 0-2 to 18. I wear the 0-2 for reference.
- Pleated front detail
- Zip and hook fastening
- Come in straight, wide, slim, and paperbag leg styles
Runners Up: Karl Lagerfeld, NYDJ, Meraki
These pants were all solid contenders, and so I made the call based on fit. The Karl Lagerfeld was a size too big (my size wasn’t available) and dry clean only. The NYDJ were mislabeled as a 33″ inseam, but were actually a tiny bit short for the style, on my leg. They would be a great ankle length style for someone taller. (I’m 5′ 21/2″). They are a flattering style in a heavier twill fabric. The Meraki were a close runner-up to the Find, but were a bit snug in the waist and slightly less comfortable for that reason.
Brown Pant Options
The Betabrand and Everlane pants, above, come in alternate colors, including navy, charcoal, and khaki, but neither of those styles are available in chocolate brown. These two styles, however, come in brown and multiple other color options to suit your wardrobe color palette. The Athleta pair is similar to the Everlane, but with a sportier tie at the front, while the Krazy Larry pair is a cross between the pull-on styling of the Betabrand and the fabric of the Find.
Do you have a favorite pair of basic dark neutral pants? What do you love about them? And which of these would you consider trying? Let me know in the comments!