Kill my $500/yr pants budget
June 24, 2010 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Need a substitute for H&M pants that will last more than a month.

I wore dorky pants for most of my life. Then I discovered the very nice slacks at H&M, which fit me very well and look pretty good. And they're $25-$35 usually.

I tend to have two (or, eep, one) pair of pants in rotation at any given time. With the H&M pants, this means I need new pants every month, because the seams tear or the fabric wears through to a point where even safety pins don't make them wearable. This is not cost-effective.

The pants are not tight. They're 34R and I'm fairly skinny. They fit comfortably. I'm not putting them through undue stress. So I guess it's just shoddy worksmanship. Where can I find similar-looking pants that will actually last a little while? (Without spending $100) (I am male)
posted by zvs to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (I can't find a non-ridiculous photo, but these are the sort of pants I mean)
posted by zvs at 10:28 AM on June 24, 2010

Yeah, don't feel bad. My H&M slacks died like two months in, which is weird because their jeans have lasted for years now. Have you tried Express' "Producer" slacks? I have a coworker who swears by them.
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not an expert on male fasion, but it usually holds true that if you spend more, they last longer. Go to JCrew or Banana Republic and find the sales rack.
posted by quodlibet at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Depending on how you fit (and it really matters), I can say that Express (The Producers are a little tight on me), Gap (what I'm wearing right now), or Banana Republic (what I used to wear before discovering Gap fit me better) are going to be your best bet.
posted by General Malaise at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2010

I've had a lot of luck finding cheap but durable work staples at outlet malls. Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, J. Crew, and Gap outlets have all done me well.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:44 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: I wear a lot of Express - their pants are in the $100-range normally, but they have pretty frequent sales and they regularly send me coupons for, say, $30 off a $90 purchase, which can be combined with most of the sales. So I generally end up paying $50-60.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:46 AM on June 24, 2010

...they regularly send me coupons...

Does one just sign up on the website for that?
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on June 24, 2010

Does one just sign up on the website for that?

There are some i get in email, but the more impressive ones I get in snail-mail. I think I signed up when I was making a purchase - not sure if/how to get those mailers through the website.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2010

I shop in the ladies' section, but I thought I'd at least chime in and say I still have pants I bought at Express at least five years ago. If you get on their email list they'll send you coupons, too. So, another vote for Express.
posted by geekchic at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2010

I sort of care how my dress slacks look, but don't care a whole lot. I've had 2 pairs of Gap pants that have lasted for ~2 years now without any rips, which have seen almost constant use. They're a little looser than the H&M brand (I would assume), but they might be worth a try. I like the fit with dress pants, regardless.
posted by codacorolla at 10:57 AM on June 24, 2010

edit: dress shoes... crap.
posted by codacorolla at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2010

I haven't had great luck with J Crew's slacks and khakis. They usually seem to wear out fairly quickly too.

Right now, I'm wearing a pair of Brooks Brothers Khakis. Although they were a bit expensive, it's very apparent that they're in a completely different league in terms of the quality of the fabric and craftsmanship.

Also, spend the extra $10 to get whatever you buy tailored, especially if you're shelling out $100 for the pants themselves.
posted by schmod at 11:01 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How are you washing them? (This is assuming you are not buying dry-clean only slacks)

If you're washing after every wear on the normal "colors" cycle on hot, they may not last long. Try the cold gentle cycle after every 5 or so wears. Put them in a pillow case, if you want, and definitely hang dry. Someone said that the jeans from H&M last much longer than the slacks. Most (not all) people wash their jeans every once in a while and wash their slacks more often. I think slacks SHOULD be washed a bit more than jeans, but still not after every single wear.

H&M is notoriously a "fast fashion" company. That is, their clothes are cheap and easy, but they're also poorly made and wear down in less time. That's just how it is. So higher quality, more $$, brands will definitely last longer.

A third point: Do you ride a bike or walk? I notice that from riding/walking a lot, even higher quality pants/jeans get considerable wear in certain places.
posted by Lizsterr at 11:03 AM on June 24, 2010

Also, Bonobos claim to be the pants to end all pants. They never seem to have my size in stock though.
posted by schmod at 11:03 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: If what you like about the H&M pants is the slim fit, I'm pretty sure you will find that pants from regular stores are aimed at the average American build and will feel billowy to you. At least, they do for me - J. Crew and Banana Republic especially. I'd try Urban Outfitters.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:05 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, all, this is almost too much to handle!

A third point: Do you ride a bike or walk?

That was my theory too. I switched to always wearing shorts when I bike, but the pants wear out just the same.
posted by zvs at 11:16 AM on June 24, 2010

I have been wearing pants from dickies. They arent stylish but your typical work pants. I am a network tech that does a lot of lifting and on the floor and stuff and dickies have been the only brand of slacks that has actually held up and not ripped in 6 months.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2010

I got a pair of chino's from Banana Republic on sale for $30 a few weeks ago. Normally $85. They're pretty nice. It's worth a look to see what you can find.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:39 AM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: Uniqlo is in your price range and they are the king of slim fitting basics. However, they're currently only in New York, and I see you're in Seattle. If you have friends in NYC or you might take a trip there, it's worth investigating. Their quality on some things will be slightly better than H&M, but not much.

I second paying more attention to how you launder things. Right detergent, right temeprature (warm, not hot) and never ever use the dryer unless you have to, and even then, delicate cycle and only to 80% dryness.

For under $100 but significantly higher quality, you're going to have the best luck with outlet stores, online sample sale websites, Ebay, and maybe local vintage stores like Buffalo Exchange. You can measure your H&M pants around the waist, crotch length, inseam, ankle opening and thigh, and match pants you find online to those measurements.
posted by slow graffiti at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could always try buying 5-6 pants of the same kind from H & M (or wherever) and wear them once a week. They should last about the same amount of time but spread out over a period of 5-6 months. Then at least you wouldn't have to go shopping as often.....
posted by aetg at 1:17 PM on June 24, 2010

I was also going to recommend Uniqlo. And frankly, I think the quality at Uniqlo is significantly better than at H&M.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2010

Go to Express, Eddie Bauer (they actually do have some very flattering, incredibly well-made pants), or New York & Co. I have pants from those outlets that have lasted not only several years in my wardrobe, but also several years in my wardrobe after several years in others' wardrobes. (I usually shop for pants at thrift stores—which I would also highly recommend for finding only lightly worn designer pants.)
posted by limeonaire at 3:07 PM on June 24, 2010

I just went to the Uniqlo site, and didn't see anything gray or dark-colored that wasn't called "drawstring," "jeans," or "leggings." I wasn't limiting to new items and I wasn't limiting by gender.
posted by nobody at 3:11 PM on June 24, 2010

Thought I might as well point out that at least one kind of the Express Producer pants mentioned earlier are currently on sale for 29.99.
posted by nobody at 3:13 PM on June 24, 2010

Best answer: So are these Photographer ones!
posted by griphus at 3:23 PM on June 24, 2010

nobody- Uniqlo currently does not operate much of a web sales business. Their NYC store is 3 stories tall or something ridiculous like that, so trust me when I say they carry men's slacks, you just won't be able to find them on the web (except Ebay, maybe)
posted by slow graffiti at 3:29 PM on June 24, 2010

I third Uniqlo - I went to northwest Senegal for two months to do a study, and my Uniqlo linen pants were the only thing I could conceivably wear in the office without melting. They not only lasted the trip, but look as though I never wore them. If you have friends in New York, I would definitely give your measurements and have them send you a pair for starters.
posted by msk1985 at 6:36 PM on June 24, 2010

Ah, thanks, slow graffiti. I live in NY. I've just never gone inside their store. I think I had just assumed they were much too fancy?
posted by nobody at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I'm in NYC on a semi-regular basis, so I may stop in at Uniqlo next trip. In the meantime, I got a pair of Express Photographer pants on the cheap and started a spreadsheet to see how long the brands last...
posted by zvs at 1:02 AM on June 26, 2010

Response by poster: One month and ~26 wearings later, these Express pants have held up. Win.
posted by zvs at 10:11 AM on July 27, 2010

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