Like many of you, I’ve spent years working in offices that required tailored clothes — clothes that looked good, but pinched and rubbed and inspired myriad fantasies about burning them all in a bonfire by the end of the day. But the days of pinchy pants are gone! These days, designers have come up with comfortable work pants that look polished and professional, but feel a lot more yoga.
While not dress pants per se, these work pant alternatives I found are all totally appropriate — and crazy-comfortable — for both less traditional office environments, or even for fancier-than-sweatpants but not-quite-cocktail-dress occasions.
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Mid Rise Gingham Pull-On Ankle Pant ($59.50, Express)
As soon as you subtract buttons and zippers from the putting-them-on equation, you’re almost guaranteed to have more comfortable pants. At least, that’s what these knit pull-on pants from Express suggest — and, you know what, they prove it, because I just got these last week IRL! They are legit comfy. And if gingham isn’t your thing, Express also has them these yoga pant alternatives in white, black and white stripes, and light blue.
NIC+ZOE Wanderlust Pants ($88.50, Nordstrom)
Wide-legged pants are in this season, which I enjoy because they remind me of what TLC wore in their “Waterfalls” video (i.e., a kinder, gentler time before super-skinny jeans strangled our midsections). These NIC+ZOE pants are made with stretchy modal, so they’re extra comfy, and are tailored enough to fancy up with a pair of heels. Just be sure to wear them with a more fitted top so you don’t look like you’re slumming in sweats.
If you like the wide-legged look and you’re tall enough to pull off an ankle pant, check out the cropped knit pants from J Crew with a comfy elastic band that sits just above the hip, and a stretch merino/cotton blend that’s a perfect three-season fabric.
Astrid Pants ($59, Krochet Kids International)
There’s so much to love about these pants: there’s the obvious cute factor, and you can just tell they’re comfortable as anything. But I also love that they’re a product of Krochet Kids, whose mission is to provide job opportunities to women in need. So the pair of pants you get — which, by the way, are made with certified 100% organic cotton from Peru — will come accompanied by the profile of the very woman who made them and who you’re helping to support with your purchase. Plus, they’re so great for a casual Friday office look.
Turn It Up Pant ($125, ADAY)
Don’t let the belly shirt (meant to help display the look of that waistband) fool you — these aren’t slouchy yoga pants, but tapered trousers from ADAY, which specializes in styles made with fabrics designed to be seasonless, wrinkle-resistant, and comfortable. Trifecta! They’re super-soft, and I love that elastic band detail — yes, it’s designed for comfort, but the deliberate design makes them look extra sharp. Just be sure to dress them up with a fitted blazer and great shoes because they could easily look dowdy if you’re falling back on a t-shirt/sneakers combo with these pants.
Crepe Joggers ($27.99, Target)
I can’t help it; there’s something about the track-pants-meets-tuxedo-stripe trend that I just adore. These drapey drawstring joggers have a little bit of shine and a whole lot of swing to them, which makes them great do-it-all pants. Take a look at how they’re styled here with heels and you really see how they are not sweatpants at all. And you really can’t beat that price at Target, can you? (Note: They’ve just sold out! Keep an eye out for a restock.)