Or trousers, for those of you for whom the word “pants” conjures up visions of underthings. “Trousers” just seems like something my grandmother wears—probably polyester with an elastic waist and permanent-press creases. Ah, the delights of our diverging language. (Side question—d’you think all this internet business will help bring the vernacular slang of the far-flung contingents of English speakers a little closer into alignment? For example, if it weren’t for the internet I might not know that a vest is also a waistcoat or a gilet, OR that it is also a tank-top or a camisole. Likewise the pants as trousers or pants as panties.)
Anyway… some of you have been around to witness the supposed triumphs of my great Jeans Quest. It hasn’t been completely easy, but it hasn’t been as brutally hard as many of the pants-fitting struggles I’ve read about. I’ve followed the basic mantra, “when in doubt, take it in,” and mostly done alright. You have no idea the feeling of freedom and lightness this brings to me. It means that I can now, for the first time, have the perfect pair of jeans (barring my own technical limitations) on demand. All I need is some good, sturdy stretch denim. Buffalo Jeans, Silver, Pepe, Guess—all you expensive jeans companies that discontinue my favorite styles, or don’t make your inseams quite long enough, or just decide that this year EVERYTHING is going to come with holes in—can go jump in a lake. I’ll make my own jeans, thank you very much.
This is awesome.
But, it has awakened a thought in me. You see, in this world, having conquered the Denim, it occurs to me that there is something else out there. Yes, something that is…
Pants that aren’t jeans.
I know, I have a hard time wrapping my head around this as well. I have owned a few pairs over the years—the leather ones from the vintage store I bought in high school that never really fit (being high-waisted and made for someone with a 24″ waist… not something I had even when I was 17). The army surplus cargo pants, of course, which were my uniform for a while (they went with the shaved head and red plaid jacket…). The mens’ vinyl pants with the lacing all the way up the side… they are fun, but obviously for a very specific usage. Then there was that plain black pair of trousers I bought for that job interview back when I was finishing my Master’s. I didn’t like them, but I didn’t want to wear jeans to the interview, and felt a skirt (my usual go-to when denim is not quite stylish enough) would be too fussy and girly for a preperator’s position interview. This is a job that involves banging up rocks, not answering phones and typing up reports. I should note that the five or so people in the panel interviewing me were all wearing jeans😉. Anyway, I didn’t like them when I bought them, and never wore them again. But there is still that non-jean pants-shaped hole in my wardrobe. And now that I am sewing, perhaps I should be moving to address it.
But I’m still confused. What should pants that aren’t jeans look like? What colours are good? What fabrics? What kind of pockets? I’m a big fan of the patch pockets on jeans because my rather under-sized bottom needs all the ornament it can get. But I have a feeling these wouldn’t look right on… trousers. So what, then? Flap pockets? Welt pockets?
Then there’s the leg. I’m a big fan of tight and skinny in jeans—or at least, not flared. But this is also a very young look, and presumably not what I’m looking for in Grown-Up Pants. So what, then? Straight from thigh down? A subtle boot cut? These things run round and round in my head. And once I start moving away from the skinnies, I start to contemplate…
Pants that aren’t stretch.
I know, it boggles my mind, too. Discovering stretch denim, like low-rise jeans, was a major revolution in my life.
My first pair of really awesome, low-rise, stretch-denim jeans (which I think I didn’t get until after Tyo was born, actually) was the moment when I went “Aha! This is my pant. THIS is the item of clothing I have been looking for since I was fourteen!”
But there are a few pairs of pants that aren’t stretch that have crept into my wardrobe over the years. The army cargos, of course, though I now only wear those for fieldwork. Most particularly, there’s a pair of “pseudo army pants,”—ultra-girlified low-rise camo pants with asymmetrical mini cargo-pockets, lots of studs, and a huge embroidery of snakes, skulls, and an eagle on one leg. The’re awesome, in a totally-casual, not-at-all-grown-up way… but the point is that they fit perfectly (and snugly!) in the hip/butt, and then extend seamlessly into a nice wide-leg pant. And they’re still comfy. If I had a fit like that in a less, ah, statement piece, it could really be versatile. As it is, I wear them about four times a year.
All this is without stepping into the slippery territory of “rise”. I abandoned high-rise jeans as soon as I could, partly because they never fit my figure (I have a big waist relative to my tiny bottom/no hips), and partly because at that point in my life it was pretty much my mission to show off as much abdomen as the weather would allow. Fashion and age have pushed me away from the crop-top, bare-belly look, but I’ve clung to the low-rise. They look right. They feel right. I just can’t let go of that long-ago “aha” moment. Sewing may let me fit high-rise pants to my own (lack of) shape, but it can’t remove my obsession with waist-rolls or the fact that I don’t have that teeny-tiny cinched-in waist. I know plenty of people have their own hate-on for the low rise, with plenty of good reason. I’ll just say that for me, with my body, it works. Will I explore beyond it? maybe I will. We’ll see. I gotta tell you it scares the pants of me.
Also, I need to find some red stretch twill. I saw some awesome red pants on TV the other night—red jeans with white lacing on the inside thighs. SO fun. I’ve been thinking I need red pants… (not in that practical ‘this would be a really useful addition to my wardrobe’ kind of way. More in the OMG that’s so awesome and fun kind of way.)
So what do you think? What are you looking for in the perfect pair of pants? How do you step it up a notch beyond jeans? What on earth should pants that aren’t jeans look like?