Machine-washable work-appropriate pants for women? (Not jeans)
April 10, 2017 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Where can I buy women's machine-washable pants/trousers/slacks to wear in a business-casual office environment? Not jeans.

I currently wear dark-wash jeans to my cubicle job. They're OK and I'm not getting criticized, but I still feel underdressed. My first step in a wardrobe upgrade = wearing slacks/trousers instead of jeans.

I hit my local mall to find machine-washable full-length slacks, and I was so frustrated!
- Ann Taylor, Banana Republic = nothing machine-washable
- Sears, Macy's, Old Navy = like one small rack of slacks; everything else was jeans or cropped summertime pedal-pushers
- Express, New York & Company = good machine-washable slacks that I liked, but most of them clung to my ass like crazy and showed prominent underwear lines. I did buy one pair from New York & Company that wasn't too ass-tight.
- Gap = nothing but casualwear

Where can I shop for machine-washable, office-appropriate, full-length women's trousers, sizes 6-8, not too skin-tight? I prefer to shop in person (greater Boston area) so I can try things on, but I'm also open to online shopping.
posted by cadge to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (38 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Ive definitely found machine-washable work pants at the Gap; in fact, I am wearing some right now. Maybe check online if they're not in your store?
posted by ferret branca at 10:57 AM on April 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had a pair of washable Jones New York trousers which lasted for years. I found them at Macy's.
posted by esoterrica at 10:59 AM on April 10, 2017

NYDJ has washable trousers. I buy them at Nordstrom (Macy's also stocks the brand) but some cuts are weirdly clingy. Vince Camuto, also stocked at Nordstrom, does washable trousers. I'd suggest, generally, big department stores for a basic work trouser.

(The Gap "Perfect" trouser was this pant for many years but they stopped selling it, alas. This appears to be the replacement product, but I don't know anything about it)
posted by crush at 11:00 AM on April 10, 2017

Nordstrom has a line of work slacks in their Sejour line, which I love - If you hang them by the hem, with clips at the crease, they don't even need ironing, and they seemingly last forever! Now that I look them up, I see that this line is only in Plus sizing - but give Nordstrom a try - their sales people and stylists are the BEST.
posted by dbmcd at 11:00 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

My machine washable work trousers come from Uniqlo. They have brick-and-mortar stores in the Boston area, so give them a try.
posted by needled at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

I machine-wash my Banana Republic Sloan pants all the time and they are fine. I do not machine-dry them, though. Do they need to be both washed and dried by machine?
posted by kyla at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Try Lands' End.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

In desperation, I bought a pair from Lands' End the other day. Still mad about them throwing Gloria Steinem under a bus ... also Kohl's has good options.
posted by tilde at 11:07 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I buy these black pants from Kohl's.
posted by JanetLand at 11:09 AM on April 10, 2017

In desperation one year, I went to JC Penney's, and surprisingly, they had a huge range of washable dress slacks in a wide variety of sizes and styles. It's been a couple of years since the last time I bought any, but it's worth a shot. They're not terribly expensive, either, and often have sales and coupons.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2017

Mm.LaFleur has lots of great, well tailored workwear, mostly machine washable. I know they have stores in NYC and D.C. if you'd like to try on in person. Their shops are really pared down and chill.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The compounds used to make 'wrinkle free' dress pants were discontinued in a lot of brands thanks to a push by Greenpeace. So you might want to look on eBay or thrift stores.
posted by politikitty at 11:31 AM on April 10, 2017

I just want to avoid the expense and effort of dry cleaning, so the pants just need to be machine-washable. It's OK if they can't go in the dryer.

Thanks for these suggestions, everyone!
posted by cadge at 11:37 AM on April 10, 2017

JC Penney's or thrift shops - for whatever reason, the fashion has gone to pedal-pushers or super tight in the last few years and dressier clothing has all been dresses/skirts. Last time I needed work trousers (maybe a month or so ago), the only place that worked for me was Savers and Salvation Army, though I had one or two more levels of difficulty (plus sized, and also didn't want just dark blue/black colors).
posted by dinty_moore at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2017

Came to suggest Kohl's. They carry Lee brand casual trousers for women. Several different colors and patterns, machine washable and no ironing required. I wore them exclusively the last five years before retirement.
posted by raisingsand at 11:39 AM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

My wife buys pants at Loft and they're all machine-washable. (and yes, I actually do check the tags). Not sure whether by Ann Taylor you mean Ann Taylor proper or Loft as it's a sub-brand.
posted by GuyZero at 11:48 AM on April 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wear Old Navy's Everyday Khakis to work. You can order online to have the widest selection, and then return what you don't want to keep to the store.
posted by donajo at 11:52 AM on April 10, 2017

I'm currently wearing Dana Buchman slacks from Kohl's, if not the same ones JanetLand linked to, nearly the same ones. I own five pairs, because they're washable, neutral, and have real pockets.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:59 AM on April 10, 2017

Mine come from Talbots, which has killer sales and "birthday month" promotions. Most I get new on sale, but they are on eBay, too. They wear like iron and last me for years.
posted by jgirl at 12:11 PM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm a little puzzled...cotton is machine-washable, and Ann Taylor is certainly selling cotton trousers right now. So are their "all-season stretch" pants (made of a poly-rayon blend). You can easily check store availability on line...maybe you just hit one of the awkward seasonal-transitional periods?
posted by praemunire at 12:24 PM on April 10, 2017

I'm about your size and absolutely love the Martie Pant at J.Crew. I'm 5'3" and the Regular length reads just right on me (slightly longer than on the model).

I machine wash in cold water and line dry. I think you could safely tumble dry them on low, but I'm very gentle with my pants because my thunder thighs already significantly shorten their lifespans.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:38 PM on April 10, 2017

Try BetaBrand. I haven't personally worn them but I hear great things. They're work slacks that are yoga pants, but they look amazing. I'm planning on getting a pair next paycheck!
posted by buttonedup at 12:41 PM on April 10, 2017

Lands End has chinos which they will hem to your specified length.

Express editor pants are my go-to work pant, though. I wash them in cold water and gently dry for a few minutes before hanging to finish drying.
posted by bunderful at 12:47 PM on April 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I, too, love the Editor pants but I've found that they have changed a lot over time. Some of them just don't fit me at all.

Do you have a higher-end consignment shop/thrift store near you? I've actually had great luck going thrift shopping for pants, finding like-new ones, and then getting them tailored. I can't remember the last time I found pants new, TBH. The benefit is that you have a bunch of brands in one place, so there's less store-hopping. In my experience, pants are always in excellent-to-new-with-tags condition.

A note on the "Dry clean" - this is just a suggestion. I've always washed and dried my pants (cold wash, low heat) and never ruined them. Ever. If the tag says "Dry Clean Only", however, THAT means don't wash it .
posted by onecircleaday at 1:17 PM on April 10, 2017

Loft is my go to for most work pants. They come in a variety of cuts and with few exceptions are machine washable.
posted by goggie at 1:32 PM on April 10, 2017

Seconding MM LaFleur. Not cheap but I adore the pants I bought from them and they seem incredibly durable and flattering.
posted by peacheater at 2:43 PM on April 10, 2017

Loft! Also I have a pair of regular Ann Taylor (not loft) pants that are dry clean only and have been machine washing them on the delicate cycle and hanging to dry and so far they've held up fine.
posted by MadamM at 2:50 PM on April 10, 2017

Also, I'm not sure what your underwear of choice is, but I have yet to find a pair of work appropriate pants that don't really require a thong to not show pantylines.
posted by MadamM at 2:52 PM on April 10, 2017

I buy Alfred Dunner brand pants at JCPenny. They are machine washable and dryer safe, but air dry really well too.
posted by rakaidan at 2:57 PM on April 10, 2017

Uniqlo, uniqlo, uniqlo. They're super affordable to begin with, always on sale, and come in a million different colors. They solved all my work pant woes - highly recommend!
posted by tango! at 4:54 PM on April 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Seconding that I throw my favorite Banana Republic Sloan pants in the wash all the time.
posted by somedaycatlady at 5:34 PM on April 10, 2017

I'd try Macys again but using their personal shopping service. It's free and there is no requirement to buy anything. I have found the stylists to pay very close attention to what I am looking for and really aim to get stuff I want. Macys surely carries what you are looking for but they are stashed all over the store. Setting up a personal shopping appointment means you will show up to a room with a bunch of styles in one place for you to evaluate.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2017

Lots of good suggestions above - also consider Boden, which is a gold mine of business casual clothing that is machine washable.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 6:34 PM on April 10, 2017

I want to add that a great fitting pair of trousers begins with tailoring. The pants you tried on at Express/NY&Co/etc that were almost right but not quite? Go a size up and have them brought in. Tailoring will make or break a lot of the ill-fitting issues in today's silhouette styles. Another suggestion thrown in for looking for the last season or last decade cast-offs in thrift or consignment stores. My favorite pairs of wash and go work pants came from NY&Co and J.Crew respectively. In both, they were easily a decade old in styling but fit my curvier hips to a tee without being too tight. A little alteration made the hems look right for the times and I had a reliable work uniform carved out.
posted by missh at 7:44 PM on April 10, 2017

Thirding Uniqlo for quality, price, fit, and range of options. They will also hem pants to fit you in-store.
posted by lieber hair at 9:10 PM on April 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Limited no longer exists but their exact stretch pants are perfect for this. I have had no trouble finding them on Poshmark or thredUP for $20ish/pair.
posted by emkelley at 3:29 AM on April 11, 2017

fwiw, many labels say dry clean only so that the manufacturer has limited liability when their cheap-quality fabrics and fabrication fall apart. It's not that water will damage the garment.

Now that clothing is no longer made of things like leather, suede, or silk, I don't use dry cleaning at all. I wash all of my work clothes in the washer, on cold or cool, and on the delicate or hand wash cycle. To maintain the finish of the fabric I wash everything inside out, and there are a few things that I put in lingerie bags so that they won't get tangled up in the washer. I hang dry them all on a hook on the back of my bedroom door. Sweaters I lay over the back of a chair or over the shower.

I pretty much buy all of my clothes at the retailers you mentioned (NY&Co, Macy's, Express, etc etc).
posted by vignettist at 8:53 AM on April 11, 2017

you could try the (unfortunately named) Dickies work wear. They are sturdy, washable, and come in colors! I have a former co-worker who wears Dickies exclusively.
posted by Billiken at 11:12 AM on April 11, 2017

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