Where Have All The Palazzo Pants Gone?
June 1, 2008 6:34 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for work pants that are not too casual, not too formal, and fit over my butt without suffocating me.

I'm looking for pants that I can wear to work and I have some fairly particular constraints. I am a late-20's woman and I work at a Seattle-area tech company. In order to be taken seriously I have to dress up a bit more than the jeans-and-t-shirt uniform that my peers wear. Wearing a suit is the kiss of death with my software engineer coworkers, though. My wardrobe walks a fine line between not-too-casual and not-too-formal.

Also, I've got enough butt to outfit two skinny girls. I'm around a size 8/10 but a lot of current fashions draw too much attention to assets which don't need to take center stage at work. Sausage-fit tapered leg hipster pants, I'm glaring at you.

I've found a few formulas that work well, such as loose, flowing palazzo pants and slacks with interesting patterns or stripes. However it's been very hard to find these things for the past couple of seasons and all of my good work pants are in tatters now. Express and Urban Outfitters have been the source of occasional finds but these days everything they sell is too short, too tight, or too high-school looking for me to wear it to work. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ann Taylor and J. Crew slacks are generally too conservative and suit-like.

Where should I be looking? Recommendations for brands, stores or specific items are welcome. Huge karma bonus points if you know of a good source for palazzo pants, which have been hunted nearly to extinction in Seattle.
posted by rhiannon to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
you might find some good pants at eddie bauer. also, i find the gap's wide-leg trousers are great for gals with hips and thighs.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:39 PM on June 1, 2008

My body type sounds similar to yours. On a few recent trips to the states (including Seattle!), I've found I really like the Martin fit available at Banana Republic Outlets. They're cotton with a little bit of stretch, not too low- or high-cut for my tastes, and have a wider leg. Definitely not sausage-fit taper legs. Due to the slight stretch fabric, if you did end up looking at them, I would go for the size that seems like it would be a bit too tight in the bum to be work appropriate. They stretch out (at least for me) to a work-appropriate fit.
posted by flying kumquat at 6:52 PM on June 1, 2008

Our body types sound very similar, down to the size—I'm about a size up, a 10/12. My workplace has a similar kind of not-too-casual, not-too-formal wardrobe requirement. My favorite place to get new pants is New York and Company—although even there, it's tough to avoid the weird-ass, jutting pockets they seem to be putting on everything these days and/or pants that have too few belt loops to work well for those of us with some junk in the trunk. My second choice? Target, honestly, often has pants that work well, though they too have the weird jutting pockets problem, as well as the way-too-sheer-fabric problem.

My favorite source for pants in general these days, though? Goodwill. Seriously—try hitting up one in a nicer area of town and you'll strike gold in the form of scarcely worn Express and New York and Co. pants from a couple of seasons back. Go to a few and see what you come up with—it's definitely worth it.
posted by limeonaire at 7:37 PM on June 1, 2008

2nd Gap's wide leg trousers. H&M also offers lots of wide-legged business casual pants that accommodate generous assets. (Just be ready to size up to 10 or 12, even 14; European sizing isn't designed for American egos, but the quality is outstanding for the price.)
posted by junkbox at 8:20 PM on June 1, 2008

I never had any luck with work pants until recently. I am rather disproportionate: large thighs, hips, small waist. Lane Bryant has "right fit" pants where the sizing is different (the numbers run 1 - 8). Each size comes in a few colors which correspond to how they are fit - ie. the ones I got are smaller in the waist but much wider in the leg.

Anyway, as I think Lane Bryant runs size 14 and up, these will probably be much too large for you. My point to make though is that a well fitting pant makes a huge difference and are much more flattering than palazzo pants. It may be worth it to have pants tailor-made for you, or perhaps find the right cut for you at Lane Bryant and have them taken in.
posted by miscbuff at 8:49 PM on June 1, 2008

Try Benetton, they occasionally have really nice pants. I'd also try Banana Republic, Anthropologie, French Connection (hit up the sales), possibly Zara although the quality is very hit or miss. For Palazzo pants my roommates have gotten a lot of good pairs at Target, but I would also try Macy's and Nordstroms. H&M can be good, but also very hit or miss.
posted by whoaali at 9:27 PM on June 1, 2008

Have you thought about Victoria's Secret whether online or through catalog? They have various price points and styles and I've had fairly good luck with them in the past (I've probably had better luck buying pants online than I have in the real world).

Finding the right pants is always a pain no matter what size or body type you are, it seems. Good luck.
posted by darksong at 10:58 PM on June 1, 2008

Try the Club Monaco, maybe? They have great trousers, very simple, nice fit, somewhere in between formal J Crew suits and casual stuff from Gap (and are better made). I like menswear patterns or simple greys and blacks and buy nearly all my trousers there.
posted by citron at 12:10 AM on June 2, 2008

Definitely H&M. I've also had a lot of good luck at sales at Macy's, which I think you don't have there but Nordstrom should be the same. I'm surprised that stripes work for you if you're doing butt camo, though. Personally I go for solid plain pants and patterned or interesting shirts to draw the eye up. Also, with plain (read black or grey) pants you need fewer pairs and can repeat the bottom with different tops more frequently. For me at least, tops are easier to find.

Also, I wear a lot of skirts to work. I find that denim skirts with a nice top strike just the right balance. It doesn't read as casual as actual jeans. I'll often pair a denim skirt with a plan top and a hip blazer. (You didn't mention if you like skirts or not, so I thought I'd throw it out there.)
posted by miss tea at 3:54 AM on June 2, 2008

I have found interesting (but not too interesting) and unique pieces at Artfulwears.com. They still have palazzo pants.

Also- the "INC" brand of clothing- maybe found at Nordstrom (?) makes some nice thick cotton gaucho-like trousers (I just got some off of eBay).
posted by InstantSanitizer at 5:01 AM on June 2, 2008

I'm looking at my closet and the closest thing I have to palazzo pants (not as wide and flowy as those shown in your link, those would have been to casual for my workplace) are a wide-legged, flowy pair I got from Talbots. The drapiness of the fabric keeps it from looking too formal or suit-like.

I have a hard time shopping for pants because anything that fits my waist can't make it past my thighs, and something that fits my hips and thighs has a ridiculously large waist. Eddie Bauer's Blakely fit pants have been a godsend - it's "one size smaller in waist than hip" which fits this pear-shaped girl quite well.

(And I'm convinced J. Crew hates women with hips. Short women with hips in particular.)
posted by needled at 5:36 AM on June 2, 2008

Ann Taylor LOFT is a tad more casual and laid-back than Ann Taylor, and their Julie cut is a revelation for those of us with junk in the trunk. Fits nicely through the hips, no gap at the waist (and the rise is appropriately, um, appropriate). They often carry wide leg styles, and if you don't like what you find in the store, they often have different styles available on their website.
posted by somanyamys at 6:57 AM on June 2, 2008

Talbots. My favorite pair of work pants are from there - kind of looseish, wide-leg, but not flowy. They've got work-pants tailoring but they're secretly made from a knit fabric, and are more comfortable than any other pants I own. (I found a similar pair at Target, but they wore out amazingly fast.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:09 AM on June 2, 2008

I have a big, juicy rear and muscular legs and the editor pant at Express style group are great for work. They're not too expensive, a bit stretchy, and come in a lot of fabrics. They're wider at the bottom to balance out your legs (I'm all of 61 inches tall and they are very flattering on short legs as well).

They run 50-80 bucks apiece depending on the sale that's current. Some styles used to come in long, regular, and short lengths as well, but I don't know if that's still the case.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:37 AM on June 2, 2008

weird-ass, jutting pockets they seem to be putting on everything these days

If you mean those top flaps that fold up and stick out and never lay flat even if you iron them... I've had success by sewing them shut. Use a thread and needle and just grab one thread on the top layer, so you can't see the thread when you're done (like on hemmed pants). Even if you don't do a great job it should last through a couple of washings/wearings. I did these with a pair of jeans and it worked great.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:59 AM on June 2, 2008

If you mean those top flaps that fold up and stick out and never lay flat even if you iron them... Nah, I've been fine with those, just have to make sure to fold them super-flat immediately after they're done drying, while they're still hot.

No, I mean the front pockets that jut when you, I don't know, move or sit like a normal person. They're made for people with no stomach, hips or butt. E.g. these and these.
posted by limeonaire at 6:38 AM on June 11, 2008

« Older Cheap Beans, Rich Flavor.   |   How can we party like it's 2008? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.