When most women think of work pants, they usually picture plain black trousers. And with good reason—our mornings are often hectic, filled with decisions about getting the kids off to school, or navigating a stressful commute. Sometimes it’s just easiest to go with basic black on the bottom, rotating out different blazers, blouses and sweaters to freshen up your look.
But wearing the same kind of pants every day can get, well, boring. Woman cannot (or should not) live by black pants alone! Fortunately, there are many other types of women’s dress pants that you can add to your work wardrobe for diversity and flair. (Plus, if you also love very simple blouses, you can get away with a basic button-town or tee if your trousers have more personality.)
What are the best kinds of pants to wear to work?
Depending on your office dress code, you can wear a wide variety of different types of pants—including jeans if your company is big on “casual Fridays.” Maybe you’re even lucky enough to work somewhere that’s “casual every day,” or you work from home. If that describes your work situation, choose whatever type of pants you feel best in.
That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing yoga pants, though, even if your boss wouldn’t bat an eye at the sight of athleisure in the office. When it comes to workwear, the pants you feel best in are the ones you feel most powerful in!
What pants should I wear in a business-casual office?
Although the term “business casual” sounds laid-back, everything is relative! The typical modern-day office dress code really is only “casual” if you compare it to a very formal industry, such as banking, where formal suiting is expected.
If you work somewhere that is business casual, you will mainly be wearing dresses, skirts, blazers and dress pants. Certainly, your trusty black women’s dress pants are an appropriate choice, but variety is the spice of life…and when you feel good about what you have on, your confidence will shine through in everything from the emails you write to that tricky conversation you’ve been meaning to have with your boss.
The following are five styles of professional pants that can help round out your workwear collection.
1. TRADITIONAL TROUSERS
For those times when you want to look polished and professional, traditional trousers may be the best way to go. These classic pants come in a variety of cuts, from bootcut to slim, and they’re a must-have for those who work in formal offices.
If you think trousers aren’t comfortable, we beg to differ! Trousers that have stretch can be so comfortable, you want to take them off when you get home from a long day of work.
When it comes time to style traditional trousers, you can’t go wrong with a blouse and blazer on top. In terms of shoes, choose neutral pumps or flats for a boardroom-ready ensemble.
2. WIDE LEG DRESS PANTS
For a more modern silhouette, you will want to invest in a pair of wide-leg pants. This style of work pants is still professional, especially when they’re in a neutral color, but they’re a bit more stylish than traditional trousers. You may even be able to find a pair with a fashionable tie waist.
Make no mistake about it: this style makes a statement, and is exactly what you want to have on when you want to be bold at work. If you’re looking for something to captivate your audience during that quarterly business review, look no further!
Because wide leg pants are wide and flowy, it’s often best to balance them out with a simple, form-fitting top. If you wear a flowy blouse with wide-leg pants, the overall look may become a bit messy.
3. CROPPED HEM PANTS
If your office tends to get hot during the summer, keep it cool with a sleek pair of cropped work pants, which will help keep you cool while still looking workplace-appropriate. This style of pants has a hem that lands just above the ankle, and they’re often available in a variety of colors and patterns. They can be flattering on all heights, although if you’re below 5’4, it’s important to buy a petite size, as cropped pants might look like regular-length pants that are just an inch or two too short on women who are on the smaller side.
You can wear just about any top with cropped pants, and during the summer, you may want to opt for a professional tank top to stay cool. In terms of shoes, you can still wear these pants with your favorite work pumps, as well as with trendy sandals—assuming your workplace is more casual.
4. PAPERBAG WAIST PANTS
What are paperbag-waist pants, perhaps you’re wondering? This flattering style features a ruffled waist that’s usually cinched with a belt. Not only are these bottoms incredibly fashion-forward, but they’re also extremely comfortable. It’s a win-win. And if you’ve got a narrow waistline you’d like to show off, this is the silhouette for you!
The key to styling a paperbag waist is to pair it with a blouse that you can tuck in. This lets you show off the cool waist detail, all while keeping your look professional.
5. COLORED PANTS
Who said work pants have to be black, gray or another neutral? A pop of color is a great way to make a statement. Spruce up your style with a pair (or two) of colored pants—you can usually find all types of dress pants in colored options. Shades like purple, pink, or even yellow can make your outfit feel vibrant and happy, especially during spring and summer.
What’s great about colored work pants is that you can wear them with all your favorite blouses and tops. Then, just slip on a pair of neutral pumps or polished sandals, and you’re good to go.