tell me about your loosest lightest summeriest pants.
March 23, 2014 2:50 PM   Subscribe

You are like me, a curvy woman who likes to walk a lot and is too old for shorts. You know the secret of finding light, loose, possibly cropped pants that let you walk comfortably for hours and don't chafe or give you sweaty crotch; and which look cool and casual, not completely frumptastic. You are willing to share the secret of finding these pants.

I swear to God I will send you a nice gift or at least a heartfelt card if you help me find what I need.

I have found the occasional candidate pants at H&M or Old Navy but I'm at the heavy end of my weight spectrum right now and I don't think H&M has anything for me, and everything at Old Navy is tight this season. I need cropped, lightweight pants that I can wear on a trip that will involve lots of walking in the sun. Needs to look decent-ish -- casual is fine, but not an obvious elastic waist, you know what I'm saying? Needs to be black or pretty colors, not khaki. And NOT TIGHT and NOT TAPERED. My shape can't handle it. Denim is too hot. Nothing shorter than mid-calf. It seems to me they used to make lightweight cargo pants that worked ok for this sort of thing, and I had some, but I can't find them now.

I checked LLBean but they seemed to be out of every color but khaki, plus the shapes looked frumpy-tapered…

I don't have the time to go to stores so it needs to be stuff I can order online and return what doesn't work. I don't mind paying restocking fees. Size 14, I think.

Looking forward to your non-sweaty shopping wisdom. Thanks!!
posted by fingersandtoes to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Bonus question: do you know what the term is for thin light fabric (whatever the opposite of "twill" is, I think) for searching purposes?
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2014

I go to Kohl's and try stuff on. Sometimes it's Croft & Barrow, sometimes it's Lee (which has a new jean with flat elastic at the waist and slit pockets for no frumpiness).

What I look for is large flat elastic waist, or stretch jean that doesn't scream old lady. The key is to try things on. I also have a pair of Apt. 9 button-up zipper jeans that fit well.

I have never found anything jean-wise at Old Navy that fits me right. So what I do is go to Kohl's and try things on, because it varies from year to year and from mfr to mfr.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry for the denim recommendation: my Apt. 9 jeans are very lightweight fabric and I have some knit capris as well -- not very thin but not too heavy, so knit stretch is what you are looking for?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:11 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Secret: XCVI on Zappos. Some are weird and flouncy, but ignore those! The others are lightweight, casual but can pretend to be dressier in black, very comfortable pants with very wide legs and a fold-over waistband that won't really show unless you wear a crop top.

I've also noticed that patterned, super wide legged palazzo pants are coming back in. I'm not sure I can deal with the return to 1996 quite yet, but if you can...then here! (That's just an example, I've seen them all over the place.)

For searching, I'd try various combinations of palazzo, light weight, summer weight, spring, and cotton.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:19 PM on March 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Okay so I hope this is not a non-answer or a wrong answer, because I used to be you! I used to wear jeans in the summer until I felt like I was going to die. At one point I even was wearing PAJAMA PANTS out in PUBLIC and telling myself no one knew what I was doing but OH THEY DID. Anyway, I switched completely to dresses. Year round. I haven't worn pants in over 3 years, I think! Believe me I know it sounds crazy. Dresses seem fussy, they seem fancy, they seem like they are And for sure not every day! But they really can be! I have like 30 dresses and pretty much none of them are fancy. They are comfy! You know how pants have to be yanked up all the time, but then yanked down a little bit so they're not too high? You know how when you eat too much, they hurt your guts? You know how you have to yank down on the insides of your pant leg so they don't ride up your crotch? You can be free of all of that, and people will think you dressed up. Little do they know, you're riding easy and free, basically wearing a shirt and undies in public and lookin' fly as hell.

I am fat, like a size 20/22 so don't think that I'm some amazing dress-wearing supermodel. Far as hell from it. But an a-line or skater dress in cotton or a light knit (check out American Rag at Macys, I just bought like 4 dresses from there) makes me feel great and it's super comfy. I used to be uncomf letting my legs show because I'm pretty much the picture of cankles in the urban dictionary, but capris look even worse on my body because they make me look stumpy. To avoid chafing or "chub rub", there are lots of products available, but I just wear boxer briefs (which they do make for ladies, or at least without the pee-flap!). Not having to constantly yank up my pants when sitting or standing has been so nice! I always feel put-together on the outside but relaxed/comfy inside.

Have you heard of Gwynnie Bee? You can sign up for a month free and try on pants and dresses and blazers so even if dresses would never be your thing, you can try lots of pant options! I've been using the trial month and I am loving it! Worst case, you try lots of brands and hate all of them and then you at least know who to cross off the list.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:32 PM on March 23, 2014 [25 favorites]

I'm not sure if they're too big for you, but you might want to give Lane Bryant capri pants a try. There are many (so many!) things I hate about Lane Bryant clothes, but their summer cargo capris have been my main staple for the last 5-6 years and have carried me on 8-hour hikes in chub-rub-free comfort.

A close runner-up, but of lesser quality, are the capris I've found at Kohl's--the Sonoma Brand is very comfortable, but are one-season garments (at least they're priced that way, too).

And finally, the discovery of the Jockey slip short has totally brought summer dresses back into my life! For the first time since I was a child, I wore tons of dresses last summer and the slip shorts held up for probably 10-12 hours at a time of touristy walking in total comfort.
posted by TwoStride at 3:39 PM on March 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

Patagonia makes a pant called an Island Hemp Pant. It also comes in a capri style and runs up to an XL. They come as a drawstring and are really comfortable. I have THREE pairs of these pants and they are awesome.

I also want to second XCVI and Jockey's slip shorts, Skimmies.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:51 PM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Search for wide-legged cotton gauze or linen pants. I had good luck last summer with Macy's ail order.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:51 PM on March 23, 2014

I had three pairs of super-lightweight blue "denim" cropped pants from Old Navy that I wore all last summer - they were frumpy for sure, but with a cute top and cute shoes, they weren't the absolute worst, and they weren't suffocating like real jeans. They were sort of like this.

For your perusal - the plus-size master post.
posted by 41swans at 3:52 PM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sierra Trading Post is a great source. A quick search for capris in size 14 turns up more than 50 options, most not khaki. Of the brands listed, I have summer weight pants from Royal Robbin and North Face, and they are great for keeping cool. I'd recommend those tech-y fabrics over cotton for breathability.
posted by Kriesa at 4:28 PM on March 23, 2014

CJ Banks does a stretchy-waist capris that looks reasonably like real clothes and yet the waistband is comfortable enough that I've slept in them before. Their straight size line is Christopher & Banks. They come in a variety of colors, I think black included. (I never buy black pants, I have cats.) They are the most comfortable things I've ever owned, and will probably be my summer go-tos until they stop making them.
posted by Sequence at 4:40 PM on March 23, 2014

Oh, it's the "signature comfort" ones that have the perfect waistband.
posted by Sequence at 4:40 PM on March 23, 2014

Lands End Starfish Cropped Pants?
posted by kat518 at 4:54 PM on March 23, 2014

Flax linen wear
posted by Dashy at 4:57 PM on March 23, 2014

You want linen trousers like these from J.Jill. I have two similar pairs and they are loose, casual without being sloppy, and keep me cool while covered. They have misses and womens sizes so you should definitely find a pair to fit. Ebay is your friend once you find your size.
posted by Requiax at 5:14 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

MACY'S Style & Co cargo capris are lightweight and come in several colors. Charter Club had a version with stretch. If there are any dangly doo-dads, just cut them off. Basically, Macy's.

They could use ironing because lightweight=wrinkles or you could just not care.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2014

Sorry I linked to the wrong photo: Style & Co. cargo capris. The drawstring at the bottom can be snipped off so it is a straight leg, 6 or 7 colors.

Aaaannnnd those are petite. Okay, these pants come in Misses, Woman's, and Petite and Petite Woman's, etc.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:35 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

TWinbrook8, I went and ordered those right after I posted. I also ordered the starfish pants, v excited to see how those are… and I like the look of those Patagonia ones… and COTTON GAUZE, yes, that is one of the fabrics I need! I agree with folks that skivvies + skirt can theoretically be as comfortable as pants, but I know myself, and I know I'm going to want pants. Thanks all, some new stuff here for me, so v much appreciated! Much stuff arriving in the mail soon, wish me luck.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:46 PM on March 23, 2014

do you know what the term is for thin light fabric (whatever the opposite of "twill" is, I think)

Actually no! (Warning, textile pedantry ahead.) Twill is a weave structure. It can be any weight. Most jeans fabric was twill, once upon a time. Now it's mostly plain weave. Given exactly the same threads to start with, twill is more flexible and drapey, so maybe feels more lightweight, than plain weave. But plain weave can be plenty lightweight and drapey if it's made out of the right stuff. I agree that cotton gauze and linen are keywords you want. Linen is an especially cool/breathable fiber.

Maybe you would like Thai fisherman pants? They sort of have pajama pants nature but you could definitely wear them in public.
posted by clavicle at 5:55 PM on March 23, 2014

Poplin is the word you're looking for. The fabric is like sheets.
posted by brujita at 6:30 PM on March 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

6pm is having a sale on XCVI! I got these. Fingers crossed.

Re linen, I know people say it's a cool summer-appropriate fabric but I've never found it to be cool… it's always itchy and hot to me. Cotton poplin and rayon are more my speed.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2014

you could also consider gaucho pants
posted by WeekendJen at 8:47 AM on March 24, 2014

palazzo is a good search term
posted by michellenoel at 1:44 PM on March 24, 2014

oooooo I just became a member because I have found the perfect capri wide leg pants. They are from Oh My Gauze. I ordered one in black and then wound up ordering two more. They are lovely and gentle on my big thighs and make me feel cool and amazed. I love these
posted by isarosered at 8:18 AM on April 1, 2014

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