Alternatives to blue jeans?
February 17, 2007 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Please help me break my addiction to blue jeans.

I wear jeans just about every day, and have for decades. I'm bored. What are some good alternatives to my trusty Levi's?

Relevant facts:
- I'm a tall, thin-to-average woman in my thirties
- No khakis, please
- I'm not a big fan of corduroy, although it can be okay
- I've worn high heels precisely once in my life
- I have two young kids and need clothes that can survive playgrounds, baby drool, daily washing, etc.
- Every day I walk, run, push a big ol' stroller, crawl around on the floor with my baby, chase after my preschooler, leap over buildings in a single bound
- My t-shirts tend to come from REI, Athleta, Title 9, and the like
- I don't like high waist bands or pleated fronts (a la "mom jeans")
- I'm in the USA and prefer to do my shopping on-line
posted by The corpse in the library to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I like black pants from the Gap. You can get them in different cuts. They're basic and good-looking and can be dressed up or down. Sturdy too!

Wash them in cold water and don't put them in the dryer--let them hang dry so they don't fade.
posted by frosty_hut at 11:22 AM on February 17, 2007

My favorite pants are a pair of brown plaid ones from Old Navy. i find they have all sorts of fun jeans-replacement ideas.
posted by youcancallmeal at 11:32 AM on February 17, 2007

I've had good luck at JCrew. Try their heritage chino section.

One thing to keep in mind is that most "khakis" also come in brown. (They usually come in white, too, but white pants and small children seems like a bad mix. They also occasionally come in colors like pink and yellow, which does not jibe with my fashion sense but might be in line with yours.) When you're looking at pants, click through on the khaki ones that are cut like the jeans you like and see if they come in colors other than khaki. Khaki is just a color. It's not a specific kind of pants, let alone a way of life.
posted by craichead at 11:38 AM on February 17, 2007

There are no alternatives to the trusty Levi's!

I'd say work pants by Carhartt, but they don't seem to market much to women.
posted by DonnieSticks at 11:48 AM on February 17, 2007

You sound like a perfect candidate for doing the "yoga pants" thing. A high degree of light comfort for your baby-chasing needs, share a certain part of the jeans aesthetic, are eminently washable, and dirt, dirt cheap.
posted by majick at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2007

Cargo pants?

They come in a variety of fabrics. Lots of pockets = lots of goodness. There are some that are shorter-length and end in draw-string cuffs that look really hot.

I also see a lot of mom-women running, pushing strollers, &c around Vancouver wearing lululemon 'sweat' pants.
posted by porpoise at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

As crazy as it sounds, I'm a big fan of BDUs (army pants), they are inexpensive, come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are quite rugged.

Course I'm a guy and I have the fashion sense of a blind mackerel, but I've seen plenty of women wear them. They aren't particularly stylish, but you didn't list that as being part of your criteria.
posted by quin at 12:04 PM on February 17, 2007

I was just going to say exactly what majick said. Yoga pants. If you're already wearing tops that are pretty sporty, like REI and Title 9, then it seems like yoga pants would look just right with those. Like this stuff.
posted by MsMolly at 12:13 PM on February 17, 2007

Does Lands End have anything you like? You have your choice of buying online or at your friendly neighborhood Sears.
posted by ilsa at 12:14 PM on February 17, 2007

seconding lululemon-- the photos don't do them justice- their clothes are great. the "luon" fabric is amazing 4-way stretch, the fits are snug, comfy and flattering, the snugness sucks in any flab and makes everyone's bum look 80% better than it did before. i'm a big fan. don't wash them with towels and don't put them in the dryer- that'll make them fuzzy. they dry really fast if you just hang them up. i have a tight zippy top and some yoga pants from them, which i've worn constantly for 3 years, and they still look great.
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:14 PM on February 17, 2007

How do you feel about capris? Since you are tall and thin they should look really nice on you. These from Gap are a good transition from jeans - they're navy, but a lot more casual than a "typical" navy pant. These (also from Gap) are even more casual, and seem great for an active mom with all the pockets.

I emphatically second what craichead said about khakis. I despise the color, too, but I have seen many pairs at Limited, JCrew, and other stores that are in very cute styles and available in multiple colors - moss green, black, dusty pink, and gray-blue, along with the obligatory khaki. Don't be afraid to click on pictures of khaki pants on websites - there might be other color options to choose from!
posted by gatorae at 12:14 PM on February 17, 2007

I've worked with preschoolers and done the chasing small buildings in a single bound thing and I've found that a good pair of comfy fitting pinstripes from H&M/Old Navy or the like are just as good as jeans. Throw 'em in the wash, they survive just fine! We're not talking expensive suits here, but pants that look more like "grown up" pants than jeans.

Also, long skirts with tshirts works well too and is a lot more comfortable in hot weather.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2007

(Yoga pants are also super comfy, but if you're going out, it kind of looks like you're wearing pajamas.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2007

I'm a long time jeans addict myself and, recently, I've been wearing cargo pants quite a bit. They're just as comfortable as jeans but provide a welcome change.
posted by whatideserve at 12:41 PM on February 17, 2007

what's wrong with skirts? you don't really need high heels with a nice dark pencil skirt, you're tall and slender, you'll look great.

Jigsaw and fcuk and agnès b. sell online
posted by matteo at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2007

Seconding skirts. Especially because you can buy all kinds of tights and socks to go with them. Or just wear sandals.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2007

I'm a guy, but I can suggest things that I think look good on girls.

Cargo pants on girls has been attractive and something more girls are doing now. Then there is the long funky skirts that all the girls my age are wearing right now with t shirts.
posted by magikker at 1:28 PM on February 17, 2007

Yes, yoga pants are super comfortable, but if you're looking to move away from the casual look of jeans, they would definitely be a step down. I would second the cargo pants option, and find my most favorite non-denim-yet-casual pants at J.Crew. Also, I know you say you prefer online shopping, but if you want to give the fit/look any consideration, if you try a new brand make an effort to try some on at least initially or until you really know what your size is.
posted by Asherah at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2007

Cargo pants? Maybe. Skirts? Maybe. Cargo skirts? Yes.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:05 PM on February 17, 2007

Have you tried a denim dress? I'm sure there are many more styles than those two examples.
posted by krisjohn at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2007

Okay, I'm in the same boat, and I'm wondering: if you don't have to wear cute, dressy, useless shoes with skirts, what do you wear with them? This baffles me.
posted by moira at 3:49 PM on February 17, 2007

moira, my wife prefers to wear boots with dresses and skirts. In the past she used big combat boots, but nowadays, she prefers something a bit less clunky. Usually black with a wide 1" heel. She likes the heels because it makes her a bit taller, but she has, on occasion, been known to be a bit clumsy, so she keeps the hight to a minimum in deference to her safety.

Of course, YMMV.
posted by quin at 3:55 PM on February 17, 2007

Actually I think I may have misread your question. If you are asking under what circumstances useless little dressy shoes are warranted, I have no answer. I don't think my wife even owns a pair. (Though I suspect weddings and formal functions, which we avoid like the plague, might be one of the few occasions that it's appropriate.)
posted by quin at 3:58 PM on February 17, 2007

moira, I wear flip flops with skirts. I wear the cute, dressy, useless shoes with jeans.
posted by astruc at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2007

As suggested above, long skirts - though not pencil ones for crawling on the floor.

Short dresses over yoga pants or tights. Even leggings are back.

Karate pants - especially fun over tights, especially fun tights with stripes.

None of these need to be worn with high heels, but shoes do make an outfit. High heels are not necessary: my favorite winter walking shoes are a pair of red patent leather go-go boots. As Quin suggests, big clunky boots are great. Also Crocs. Colourful Keds. Mary-janes. Any kind of sandal is always sexy.
posted by kika at 4:37 PM on February 17, 2007

I'll nth the skirts suggestion. In fact, I almost never wear pants, and I am not a girly-girl. A nice knee-length skirt will keep flashing unlikely, even while being active, and it has the added bonus of making you look slightly "nicer" while being just as easy to put on as jeans. For a more advanced laziness, I recommend dresses. Either way, A-line will probably suit activity better than a pencil skirt. With a skirt, you wear flats or sneaks and flat or low, stack-heel boots in the winter (also, thick acrylic tights from H&M or the like—together the three are warmer than jeans, I swear). As long as you don't have stubby legs, it looks very nice.
posted by dame at 4:52 PM on February 17, 2007

NB: Please do not wear crocs or uggs outside your house.
posted by dame at 4:53 PM on February 17, 2007

I'm a jeans addict too, and something like your shape. Levi's has a line of corduroys cut like jeans that I like, though they do wear out faster than jeans. They come in good colors like maroon that seem to go with almost everything but still are a bit more adult/put-together than jeans.

I would say, take a kid-free afternoon and a friend, and go to the local mall determined to try on a lot of different stuff, including stuff you think you may not like at first. Pick maybe 3 stores (or 5 smaller stores) to go through thoroughly. Hopfully you'll end up with a few new things you like, and some more concrete ideas about which kinds of things to look for in online or catalogue shopping.

I found that getting a few different colors (very dark brown, light gray, maroon, orangey tan) made a lot of difference, and now my blue jeans feel like a choice I'm making rather than a default.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:04 PM on February 17, 2007

Many, many good answers -- thank you all!
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:30 PM on February 17, 2007

try jeans in different cuts (boot cut, straight, slouchy), in different colors, and in different styles (trouser jean, wide-legged). also different washes (dark, greenish, etc).
posted by kiita at 7:36 PM on February 17, 2007

I nth (x 2) the skirts suggestion. They're comfy & instantly make you look more feminine. Plus with some skirts you can look like you're dressed up or down without much extra effort, just by changing shoes & shirt.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:09 AM on February 18, 2007

Lycra is your friend. Just about any pants with a good percentage of lycra and for me, a low waist, will be at least if not more comfy than jeans, and dark colored pants will take a lot of stains/abuse. Express has tons of styles and fits, although some of their fabrics are junky. Skirts in the summer are the best, but in the winter require tights, which, IMHO, can be too itchy. Porpoise and twistofrhyme, lululemon looks great - I'm going to get some of those myself!
posted by walla at 7:25 AM on February 18, 2007

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