Category Archives: Pants

How to shop for pants

Short shorts do not a power suit make.

photo from Raydene Salinas ; image from HuffPo

Huff Post Style ran an article this week highlighting the release of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, with an interesting fashion twist. They used the opportunity to showcase new, updated versions of the power suit. This was annoying. And not because I don’t love a good power suit (I do), but because they opted for the weirdest, most inappropriate choices. Sure, they instruct you to merely ‘take inspiration’ from their looks, but let’s do one better. Here are some fierce power suits that get their ‘power’ from sleek cuts, flattering silhouettes, and colors that don’t blind people.

Instead of flaunting our sexuality or donning look at me! patterns, let’s exert our awesomeness by way of smart, chic, understated choices that highlight who we are. Not just our legs.

Here are my picks for both inspirational and practical takes on the modern power suit.

zara yellow pant suitzara tartan pant suit

By all means, embrace color and pattern. But stay away from anything that offends your co-workers’ eyes. Zara makes freaking adorable pant suits. I own two. They are fresh without being obnoxious. And the tailoring is great.

theory dusty rose suit

I also love the idea of doing a whole monochromatic look with your suit, like Theory’s dusty rose separates. This would highlight a contrast statement shoe beautifully.

LK Bennett tweed skirt suitann taylor skirt suit

If you want to ditch the pants, by all means, do it! An above-the-knee skirt in classic tweed like in this combo from LK Bennett looks contemporary yet still appropriate for work. Or stick to a knee-length and up the color ante to something fresh yet soothing like this from Ann Taylor.

jcrew grey wool suitann taylor grey suit

Most importantly, a power suit doesn’t have to be any bold color or pattern at all. As long as you have a really well-tailored, slim blazer on top, you’re going to look amazing. For added flair, go for an unexpected silver shoe (like J.Crew did) or scrunch up the sleeves (the messier the better) to give the overall look more attitude.

How to dress like a French woman when you don’t look like a model


Emmanuelle Alt

Net-a-Porter’s latest e-magazine issue had a fun article about the unmistakable style of a French woman, and how to copy it. Personally, I adore the traditional Parisian style. Hair that’s a sexy mess. Makeup that’s barely there. Conservative clothes that are anything but boring. I would kill to be mistaken for a French woman. So freakin’ chic!

But what Net-a-Porter fails to highlight (they mention it briefly) is that the main reason those French ladies look fabulous is because they’re usually super thin and gorgeous. Hello? Emmanuelle. Inès. Need I say more?

I don’t mean to belittle their sense of style, as they have an incredible one, but it most certainly doesn’t hurt if you have the figure and face of a runway model. Messy hair, rumpled tees, and painted-on jeans are only enhanced by a size 2 frame and enviable cheekbones.

That said, it is possible to successfully capture Parisian style if you’re not a walking hanger. Some suggestions are touched upon in the article. But I wanted to break it down even more.

Remember these two things: shoulders and ankles. 

shoulders and ankles. shoulders and ankles.

Or more specifically, pronounced shoulders and naked ankles.

These are two areas French women like to highlight. Pronounced shoulders by way of a structured, slightly padded blazer, and naked ankles by way of a cropped trouser and pump or ballet style shoe (where the tops of the feet show). That’s it really. I mean, not totally, but it will get you close. The rest you can fake.

The blazer doesn’t have to be high-end, but it does have to have structure and slim tailoring, preferably in both the body and arms. Zara does a nice job with blazers, and offers more reasonable prices than Balmain.

And the pants don’t have to be sprayed-on skinnies, which don’t work on every body type. Instead, try any slim-leg pant, and finish by either rolling or hemming the leg to hit above the ankle.

After you’ve got those points nailed down, you can add a leopard scarf and sleek shoe and be on your kickass French way.

Au revoir, people.


Reader question: What’s the deal with pant lengths?

Over the weekend, I received a really great question from a really fabulous TRS reader. You know who you are:)

Can you write a post about pant lengths? I have some black slacks that are basically straight leg – they measure 17 inches circumference all from the knee down to the bottom. I think the hem bagging onto my foot in flats looks very sloppy. Is the Audrey “ankle length” appropriate? Thanks for any tips!!

Pant lengths can be quite a doozy. The right length depends on the silhouette. If you’re working with a slimmer leg–straight, tapered, or skinny–then the length should fall at or slightly above the ankle. Going any lower down the foot can start to look messy and cause that weird bagging effect. (I always find Tory Burch‘s pants to be the perfect length. Both the ones she designs, and the ones she wears.)

Plus, the ankle cut is a wonderful length to wear with either flats or heels. I tend to gravitate towards skinny and straight cuts precisely for this reason. I don’t have to worry about my shoes before putting on the pants!

When you’re opting for trousers that have more flow to them–flare, wide, or bootcut–you have to take into consideration the shoes you will be wearing. There’s nothing worse than too-short wide pants, and with those types of cuts, even a half of an inch can make you look awkward. The length should break slightly at the front of the foot and cover the majority of the shoe.

So in a nutshell, ankle lengths are more than okay, but make sure to avoid any bagging at all. The hem should end before the break of the foot. For wider legs, it’s a whole other ball game (see above).

Have any burning style questions? Shoot me an email, or post your sartorial issue on Facebook or Twitter!

Yep, you can wear white

Here comes the obligatory can you wear white after Labor Day post. The answer is a resounding yes!

White adds a brilliant pop to almost all of the autumnal hues. White jeans or trousers are a safe place to start if you’re still feeling uncomfortable about breaking the rules. In order to keep them looking season-appropriate, make sure the fabric isn’t too light. Denim is always appropriate, but you can also do a dressier white trouser, as long as it has some weight to it. Pass on the linen or flimsy cotton.

Some of my favorite fall colors to pair with white are: rich browns, warm caramels, deep blues, and almost any grey. Plus, all of those work well with each other, so feel free to mix and match.

Go ahead, keep the white on all year long. It’s worth the risk.

And check out other ways to rock white jeans for any occasion.

Is it time to buy for fall yet?

The Sartorialist

Labor Day is almost upon us (where did this summer go??), and it seems like the days are cooling down. So is now the time to buy fall clothes? Well, yes and no.

Regardless of the season, I don’t advocate a big spend-all shopping spree for everything you will ever wear this fall and winter. That’s a lot of bags to carry.

Instead, buy some ‘essentials’ now, and save your other purchases for later. Because you really don’t want to be paying full price for that new winter coat when in a few months–when you are really going to need it–it’s bound to go on sale.

What are these essentials you should be spending money on now? Jeans, work trousers, blazer, and shoes.

Jeans. Whether they’re skinny, straight, or wide, you should start looking for a pair now. These are also the easiest to transition with, since you can pair with sandals and a lightweight blouse today, and then bring them into winter with boots and a sweater.

Work trousers. I’ve covered the new colors you should seek out to spruce up your work wardrobe.

Blazer. This is also a year-round essential, but if you don’t already have one, get it now. A blazer will allow you to squeeze a few more weeks out of your summery dresses, shorts, and even white jeans.

Shoes. The feet are the first to feel the chill, so invest in a pair of autumn-ready shoes. The range is wide, but I suggest a neutral pump for work (and out), and either a ballet flat or casual loafer for hanging around.

The great switch

Here’s an easy way to spruce up your work ensembles when you’re stuck in a rut:

Switch out your blah blacks and dark browns for cool greys and buttery camels. This is especially helpful now that fall is (kind of) upon us, and we are seeing more cool-weather colors in the stores.

I may sound like a broken record to any clients reading this, but I truly believe that a light grey trouser is a key ingredient to a crisper, more modern office look.

The same goes for camel. While browns in general are not the most flattering, a rich camel color can prove sophisticated and chic.

Now, I’m not saying black and brown is the wrong choice. Black can’t ever really be the wrong choice. However, if you are growing bored of your standard professional look and want to switch it up without spending a ton of money, invest in a few new pants to get you started.

Some of my favorites are the Mad Men-inspired trousers from Banana Republic, Ralph Lauren’s wide-leg pants, and these super wide-leg ones from Alice & Olivia.

The urban tuxedo

Yesterday, I did a photo shoot for an article that’s set to appear on Dr. Oz’s just after Labor Day. It’s going to be a quick how-to on re-styling your closet. I was interviewed a few weeks ago for another YB article on how to dress for your chest, and I’m so excited–and HONORED–to be featured again!

As I was assembling outfits for the shoot, I got on the topic of the ‘urban tuxedo’, a phrase I use to describe my city uniform of choice: sleek blazer and skinny jeans (or pants). It’s my no-brainer to feeling sophisticated and cool in an instant. A blazer’s sharp structure is the perfect partner to slim-fitting bottoms, and never fails to make me feel put together and edgy without trying too hard.

There can be a lot of variations on it, but the staple silhouettes are consistent. Structure on top, skinny fit on the bottom. Then I tend to switch out tops, jewelry, and shoes for different types of occasions.

And there you have it. The urban tuxedo.

Check out more on my borderline obsession with penchant for blazers, and where you can find the best ones!

Tibi’s fancy pants

Yep, it’s still 90 degrees out, but that’s not stopping the slew of fall collection emails coming at me everyday. And I can’t say I’m complaining. The thought of changing out of simple summer frocks and into some fun fall pieces is kind of exciting.

So, after lamenting over out-of-my-price-range coats from Vince, I’m moving on to pants from Tibi.

A lot of my clients love Tibi for their unique party dresses, but I find their pants selection this fall to be especially fun. They’re a refreshing take on the season’s bold jean trend, with some softer colors, interesting patterns, and flattering cropped cut (which is great for showing off new shoes).

These lace pants offer a modern way to flaunt the romantic trend. I wish they were a tad longer, though.

And pairing with deep burgundy is much more exciting than a go-to black.

These sweet pink pants are a refreshing alternative to light grey trousers. They’re ideal for brightening your fall look.

This printed pair might be my favorite. I love the messiness of the pattern, and how it begins lower on the leg.

You can view the entire Tibi fall collection here.

They are GIVING things away

I’m not big on sales posts, but I feel it is my duty to spread the word about the incredible discounts I’ve been seeing on my shopping excursions around New York and New Jersey. Sure, it’s all summer stuff, but it IS still summer. And the prices are really good.

Most of the sales are in actual stores, but there are decent e-deals to be had if you don’t feel like leaving your air-conditioned home. Some of the prices are the same online, while others are cheaper in-store because of random discounts.

Here are five you should check out:

Old Navy – Their skirts are 75% off, which means I paid six bucks for a slouchy, wear-with-anything black one.  Also great deals on swimwear.

LOFT – Dresses are 40% off, including some easygoing cotton ones.

Filene’s Basement– Lately, Filene’s has been offering very chic designer labels for very cheap. The one in NYC has a bunch of D&G, Missoni, and Piazza Sempione for 75% off. I found $400 white Dolce & Gabbana jeans marked down to $99. (They don’t currently have an online store.)

J. Crew – If you’re a shorts kind of gal, then go to J. Crew now. I don’t usually shop there because I think they’re a tad overpriced, but I found the above pair for 32 bucks.

Lord & Taylor – Good ol’ L&T always has some sale going on, and right now, it’s on shoes. I stocked up on three different sandals–one evening, one dressy day, one casual day–all for under $100. You often need a coupon there to tap into the sale, but you can print it directly from their site.

Know of any other fantastic summer sales? Share the love in the comments section or on our Facebook page!

Karen’s Perfect Penney Finds

This weekend I was showered with giddy texts and pics of Karen‘s latest purchases from JCPenney, one of her all-time favorite shopping destinations. She was so excited about three pairs of pants she found there, that she insisted I write about them on the blog. Well, duh! I live for stuff like this.

I’ve sung Penney’s praises before, but it looks like they continue to up the ante by offering well-made, flattering clothes for CHEAP.

All three pants are slim cut and ankle-length; two key factors in the making of an attractive, trend-right summer pant!

The first pair (pictured above) is from Bisou Bisou, and has a little flair going on with a funky snap and zip detail at the waist. Karen tells me they are her new favorite white pants.

Next is a khaki pair from Worthington. They’re the ‘Modern Fit Slim Leg’ cut, and have a really comfortable, not-too-low waistline.

The third pair is a slightly trendier cargo style from I Heart Ronson. Karen paid less than seven dollars for them.

And of course she didn’t stop there. (Honestly, why would you?) Karen scored some amazingly chic jewelry from Penney’s as well. Each under 10 bucks.

Yeah, I know, insane.

Penney’s does sell online, however, I urge you to take a peek in person, as a lot of the good stuff is only in stores. Judging from Karen’s loot, it looks like the field trip will be well worth it.