In search of scrubs/pajamas that look like dress pants
August 20, 2021 5:17 PM   Subscribe

I need flattering black pants for work that feel like pajamas but also make me feel polished. I also need them to be very machine washable because I work in healthcare and covid is creeping into my workplace. It would be nice if I could buy five pairs of the same pants and wash them after every wear, which is what I've done with scrubs. If I could find scrubs that looked polished/tailored enough, I'd go with that, but I haven't been able to find any that I like. It's also hard to tell if something feels right via online shopping, so I would really appreciate your recommendations!

My criteria:
- durable and machine washable
- inseam 26.5-29"
- mid to high waist
- straight or tapered leg, but no jogger-style elastic around ankle
- machine washable, extremely durable

Preferences but not absolute musts:
- prefer pull-on style
- no cargo pockets
- no tie waist
- no scrunchy waistband
- I don't like ponte fabric
- I prefer cotton but understand that most pants are not made out of cotton, and will accept whatever fabric as long as it is machine washable and will hold up
- navy, grey, very dark green also acceptable

I'm short with about a 28" inseam and usually wear size XS or 2.

After a lot of research, I thought that these pants from Eileen Fisher would fit the bill, and while I love the cut, waistband, and how comfortable they are, they have sadly pilled after minimal wear. The look/cut, though, is basically what I am going for.

I was also looking at these pants from Marine Layer, but the reviews say they're thin and cheap-feeling.

I might try out these pants from Landsend even though they have the tie waist and cargo pockets, because they're 100% cotton and I've liked Landsend quality, but the pants may be too large on me because a lot of Landsend is too big for me. Plus I'm still trying to find something without tie waist and cargo pockets.

I know everyone says that Figs makes great scrubs but I'm not sold and the scrubs still clearly look like scrubs rather than potentially dressy pants.

It seems like sometimes the hardest things to shop for are the common staple items! TIA!
posted by gemutlichkeit to Shopping (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The Athleta Brooklyn pant might be just the thing. I think it hits everything on your list except being made of cotton, but it is at least recycled poly. It weighs NOTHING, is very breathable, and super washable, and dries so fast I can line dry it quickly (which helps keep it from wearing out). I wear them everywhere and never feel schlubby. And I am also a shorty, but find the ankle cut is tidy without being, like...capris.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:30 PM on August 20, 2021 [6 favorites]

I have not bought them myself, but it reminds me of BetaBrand pants. With the exception of the ponte fabric issue, I think they have options that meet your criteria.
posted by past unusual at 5:33 PM on August 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

I think ponte or a similar fabric is unfortunately your best bet. E.g. These are cotton, but they have the scrunchier waist (in general LL Bean clothing tends to be sturdy).

That said, I rarely find that clothes like these actually pass as "dressy." But I guess it will depend in part on context.
posted by praemunire at 5:34 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Brass Clothing has some great pull-on options! I love their All-Day pants and own two pairs of their Sleek Jogger which is basically office-appropriate sweat pants. Not cotton, by and large, and most of their stuff is machine washable but should rack or hang dry.

Agree with Athleta - their Brooklyn pants are good, and I like the Stellar Crop for a slightly dressier option, also not cotton.

Dress Pant Yoga Pants from Betabrand may also suit you and they do legitimately look like dress pants. I own several pairs and they hold up well in the wash but should definitely not be dried in the dryer.

For scrubs, I prefer Medelita above just about every other brand... I have been looking at some from Jaanu as well, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. I think that their fabrics are just objectively better than everywhere else. They mostly do look like scrubs, though.
posted by honeybee413 at 5:40 PM on August 20, 2021

+1 to Athleta Brooklyn pants.

It’s worth checking out the Dress Pant Yoga Pants from Betabrand though they are hit or miss for me depending on style.
posted by bananacabana at 5:50 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am also reluctantly recommending betabrand. They hold up beautifully but they've had supply issues for years and their sizing can be inconsistent. The pros: Easy returns and if you get the right fit, they are perfect.
posted by simonelikenina at 5:52 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Take a look at FIG Clothing’s pants choices…you might find something that suits you there. Some things are sold out, but others are on sale right now.

I have some FIG pieces from a few years ago and they are very well made, comfortable, and flattering. Also, if your country’s currency is stronger than the Canadian dollar the prices will be even lower for you.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:00 PM on August 20, 2021

I really like the side zip work pants from Everlane. They're cropped, so they may not work for you, but they are so comfortable and look polished even with a plain t-shirt and flats. They're washable on the gentle cycle and mine look fine after multiple washes (I do turn them inside out).

Unfortunately, I just checked the Everlane site and it looks like this particular style is not available at the moment, but I've found them on Poshmark or thredUP. They come in several neutral colors. I find that they run pretty true to size, with generous stretch and a hidden elastic waistband. I am about 5'7" and 110 pounds, with very narrow hips and few curves, and I can comfortably wear either a 00 or a 0.

I also really like my Everlane "Easy Chino". They're pretty much just relaxed fit chinos with an elastic waist, so not quite as put-together as the above style, but they are nice enough to wear to work and definitely tick the "feels like scrubs" box.

Finally, speaking of scrubs, have you looked at Figs? They have a few slim fit bottoms that may be tailored enough for your needs. I love mine; they are super soft, breathable, and wash well. In the course of my workday, I deal with a lot of paraffin in various states, and the scrubs I have from Figs have held up really well to being washed on hot.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 6:00 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Medelita Scrub Pants, and its Pixel: Made to mimic a casual dress pant, featuring a tapered-leg silhouette and slightly cropped finish at the ankle, this scrub pant is a smart addition to your daily rotation. (Drawback: drawstring.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:14 PM on August 20, 2021

LLBean sells a variety of Perfect Fit Pants; mostly cotton with a fair bit of elastic. They are knit tightly so they look pretty good, but feel cushy and easy to move in.
Disclaimer: I have worked for them occasionally.
posted by theora55 at 7:30 PM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Gosh, I'm surprised about the Eileen Fisher pants pilling. Those are like the OG secret pajamas. I have them and the skirt in the same fabric and have worn the everloving shit out of them and they look like new. Maybe it would be worth trying again? I hope they haven't changed the fabric!
posted by HotToddy at 7:58 PM on August 20, 2021

I think you are right that the Lands End pants will be too big for you. My suggestion for durability and comfort are these pants in 29” inseam from Duluth Trading Co. Bonus: they’re on sale. The quality of every DTC item I’ve purchased has been really top-notch. I would look at some of their other pant options too, to see if anything appeals.

Good luck! The search for wardrobe staples can be so arduous.
posted by kate blank at 8:03 PM on August 20, 2021

I've been eyeing these from J Crew Factory. Poly, not cotton, and the waist is scrunchy in the back only.

For the Eileen Fisher pants, I have found anything in viscose to be temperamental and require dry cleaning or babying while washing.
posted by jeoc at 8:08 PM on August 20, 2021

If the EF pants fit, try the washable stretch crepe pants. They don’t pill, look nice, and wear like iron (the linked style is one of many using that fabric). Pretty easy to find used on ThredUP, or EF Renew.
posted by dbmcd at 9:02 PM on August 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

These Sketchers Gowalk pants are also pretty great. I’m just wearing mine for the first time today so I’m not sure about durability but they are SO comfy and look great.
posted by bananacabana at 1:17 PM on August 21, 2021

I recently tried these Mountain Hardwear pants and returned them because they looked too much like slacks, so I don't know about durability, but I think they tick all your boxes otherwise - pull-ups, straight leg, no elastic scrunchies, fairly high waist.
posted by Xany at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2021

I 2nd the LL Bean Perfect Fit Pants recommended above. They are incredibly durable and comfortable. After probably 100+ washes, I’ve only seen a slight color fading.
posted by victoriab at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Lululemon - I have 3 pairs in 3 colors and wore them to my business casual office at least 2x/week with blouses/cardigans/sweaters and they looked very polished. They do have a tie waist, but the rest of it fits the bill, and they last a long time.

Full length:
posted by something_witty at 5:39 PM on August 22, 2021

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