Lately, I’ve been in a TV desert. I’ve Netflix-and-chilled so much I’m practically frozen. So, with great diligence, I decided to rewatch the entire canon of Sex and the City. Watching it now is equal parts cringe and cuddly. So, in honor of Carrie Bradshaw (my younger doppelgänger), I will ask a question.
As I seemingly lose estrogen by the hour, why do I only want to wear pants?
Over coffee in the neighborhood, I discussed this with a menopausal maven. We talked about how the notion of femininity gets redefined as the ‘pause takes hold. This surely differs for everyone, but froofy, fluffy dresses hold little appeal as the estrogen drops, though I have always loved the ease of dresses. One and done, particularly in the warmer months, not to mention the instant air conditioning a bare leg provides. But this piece is about pants.
Nothing makes me feel more confident than pants. If you were living in New York in the ’90s, you no doubt hit clubs like Nell’s or Life or the Tunnel (oh, the Tunnel) in a flat-front black pant and a cute top, and it was miles away from a tutu.
But since it’s been a minute since I’ve danced to Junior Vasquez in a club, let’s cut to now and see how my pants party has evolved.
Take my beloved pandemic pants.
In the early days of Covid, something called a “nap dress” seized the social feeds of many a stylish woman. The nap dress is a bit sorority-sister-meets-sister-wife, and I purchased one and felt silly wearing it around the house. So I switched to a pair of cotton Zara ribbed flared leggings, with the perfectly cropped leg and elastic waist to accommodate what I like to call “the thickening,” or that meno middle that rises like all that sourdough bread we were baking three years ago. I bought about ten pairs of them and wore them with everything from oversized, crisp button-downs from The Frankie Shop to cashmere sweaters to a blazer when I needed to leave the house. To me, they are perfect.
And I think I have mentioned this before, but nothing makes me feel sexier than wearing a suit with pants. I love the sharp lines, the tailoring, and the strong silhouette. Worn with sneakers or a kitten heel, there is never a situation a good suit won’t solve. But truth be told, pants can be a challenge when your belly is billowing.
That’s why an elastic waist can be your BFF. It’s not giving up, PS. It’s giving in. To comfort and no indentations on your belly. Here are a few more examples.
I adore my silk Nili Lotan harem pants which feel like pajamas but have the coolest vibe when paired with a silk button-down or a tank.
I am also loving a parachute pant with a blazer and some heels you can walk in. These from Anthropologie are great, and these silver nylon pants from Rag and Bone give instant rockstar realness to a basic black tee or tuxedo blazer. Another chic friend of mine opined about these Tibi sweats, and I bought them in black and brown and feel amazing every time I wear them. Incidentally, Tibi pants are fabulous. Not cheap, but easy to wear and extremely stylish.
Another comfortable but oh-so-cool option is a (p)leather legging.
I have also found joy in these sporty Alo trousers. They work for traveling or traipsing around town. On that note, it’s enough with workout pants as pants, and it’s got to stop. A plain black legging is ok, but a head-to-toe gym look outside of the barre class is not best. We can do better, and we must.
In other news, don’t discount the kick of a good khaki.
I love the classic Kate Hepburn lines of a good khaki pant, and I’m curious about these wide-legged lovelies from Corey Lynn Calter. I have a fab pair of khakis from my fav local designer Meg which are on sale and have a bit of stretch and are as comfy as sweats. I also love the look of an oversized khaki from the men’s department. Bonus if they are distressed, soft, and worn like your fav pjs. And if khakis are not your vibe, Nili Lotan makes the best chinos in an array of colors with that army pant vibe you want to steal from your dude, but better. Expensive, but eternally chic.
Of course, every piece about pants must include some jazzing for jeans, vexing as they are when your stomach is not at its most concave. If you’re looking for an update, go for cargo jeans or something tomboy straight, or these barrel jeans from Ruti that have an elastic back that feels like a hug. Rachel Comey also makes great grown-up jeans, and a classic pair of black bootcut (yes, bootcut is back) Levi’s are super cheap on Amazon and will be your new favorite thing. In general, overly high-waisted jeans are not good for a belly of any kind, nor is anything too low-waisted. Go for something mid-rise.
In the no category are capri pants, even in Capri. Put them down. Now.
I have also never met a pair of white pants that don’t make me think of The Love Boat, though white or ecru jeans are hot fun in the summertime.
And if something is called palazzo, I plotz. That is one case where an elastic waist is a waste of time.
As I watched the final episode of Sex and the City in bed last night, I couldn’t help but wonder: How did Carrie fall asleep in bed waiting for Baryshnikov in that overly frothed mille feuille gown? Wouldn’t pajama pants have been comfier when abandoned in Paris by Petrovsky? The things we do for love (and fashion) when we’re young. As I rewatched Carrie race through Manhattan, I couldn’t help but think: Silly rabbit. Tutus are for kids — or at least single women in their late 20s or early 30s. As I dive into this time of life, I don’t long to be a princess. To feel confident, comfortable, and ultimately cool, I long to wear the pants.