Aug. 25, 2021
A Quick Guide to Business Pants Shopping
A brief explanation of three most typical business trousers fits. 7 minutes read.
I helped a client shop for business attire in Silicon Valley last week. I put together some explanations to accompany the links to clothing items I found for her online. I’m sharing them with you today.
She needed new trousers for her business casual outfits to meet clients and go to networking events, so we needed something more elevated than the habitual Silicon Valley yoga pants outfit. For a more elegant look I chose garments made of fine wool and crepe-like fabric. These are more polished and professional. The only online retailer I know that offers fabric filters is Yoox.com.
You can edit out all other fabrics except wool and spare yourself from clicking through pages of inapplicable clothing. Yoox also has a wider selection of sophisticated colors, like maroon, dark jade, and various shades of green, which are good for breaking out of the black and grey rut.
There are roughly three types of trouser styles that we consider business casual: straight leg, wide leg, and cropped.
1. Straight Leg Fit
Straight leg is what most women imagine when they think of finding business trousers. These pants look functional and basic. The opening at the end is usually 6 to 8 inches. This model arrives to us straight from an English man’s wardrobe. The androgynous aesthetic creates a very unflattering proportion for a lot of women who have elongated torsos with emphasis on the hips. They will leave fitting rooms disappointed after trying on dozens of pairs. This type of woman is more likely to seek an image consultant’s help and then it is my responsibility to explain to them that the straight leg fit is a true ambassadors of the Traditional Style, it is too androgynous for a lot of women and they need to look elsewhere.
2. Wide Leg Fit
Wide leg is the most accommodating style for elongated torsos and pronounced hips so typical to the female physique. Yet this is only true if the pants are tailored to sit high on the natural waist. A wide leg fit made of crepe-like fabric and fine wool conveys Elegant Style. Silk and jersey do not look professional and cotton can be sporty.
Potential problems with the wide leg styles are as follows:
- Poor tailoring that does not provide enough space in the crotch area
- Discomfort due to excess of fabric on the bottom
- Lower waistline that may make you look stumpy. Lots of people mistakenly blame the pant width for the short leg look, but it is actually the lower waistline (like on this Banana Republic model despite the fact that the description says high-raise, they seat below the waist) that makes your legs look short.
To avoid discomfort with an excess of fabric on the bottom, the width at end should be no more than 12 inches. Then you can comfortably wear such pants with an inch high platform or small heel, get a flattering look, and appear both professional and comfortable. I stick to this wide leg tailoring and like how easily it blends with business formal and soccer mom looks.
3. Cropped Capri
When the cropped capri style is used for business and formal attire it usually comes with a crease and sometimes a cuff right above or right below the ankle. The formal versions will be made of fine wool or crepe fabrics and will not be tight in the crotch and thigh areas. Worn at business meetings along with a blazer or a dressy tucked in blouse or shirt, this can be a manifestation of Sporty Style applicable in a business environment. Cropped trousers are also be the best choice for women who need to accommodate extra pounds.
As you shop for cropped capris, keep in mind which shoes you will pair them with. The summer styles worn with ballet flats, pumps, and Keds usually have a smaller opening at the end. A six inch opening suffices. But if you plan to wear them with boots, you will need to add an inch or a bit more of width.
Skinny jeans and cropped pants with a tight fit in the crotch and thigh areas are the sportier interpretation of this style. With blazers they create more of a smart casual than business casual look. It passes for business casual in creative and life style fields, but more conservative environments like finance, education, and public service will probably call for the models listed above.
Culottes are another cropped version with a wider leg that has an 11+ inch opening at the end. They gravitate toward an artistic and free-spirited image. They rarely look convincing in more formal business environments outside of creative and life style fields.
This serves as an introduction to other stories with more intricate plots with various styles interbreeding, as well as personal basic and advanced styles.
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