Whether you work in an office, home, or just simply want to get a jump start in your tailored dressing journey, owning a pair of chic, versatile, and comfortable pair of trousers is a good start! I get workwear related questions all the time on my Instagram, and a lot of the time they are about brands and fits. I do have a list of some current favorite brands that I will be sharing at the end of this blog post, however, keep in mind that what suits me does not necessarily fit you. That is why I want you to remember to have an open mind and really take your time when it comes to finding the perfect pair of trousers!
Tips to find the perfect pair of trousers:
Warning: You will need to put in the hours!
1. Read These Before Heading Out to Shop:
To my experience, buying trousers online rarely result in any success. If you’re new to the tailored dressing game, I highly recommend an appointment with expert stylists where they walk you through styles and fits that will suit your shape best.
- ignore quirky names that brands give to their trousers but rather note the tag description and keep track of what style you’ve tried on and what you like or don’t like about them,
- take your time to touch and feel the fabric,
- read the brand tags to get yourself familiarized with brands,
- read the care label for fabric composition, where they are made, washing instructions,
- try everything on: look at how they fit on you in the mirror, snap a lot of photos to see what you look good in
- walk around, do the sit test
- make sure they fit you at the widest part of your bottom, whether it’s your stomach, bum, hip or thighs. A good tailor should be able to take things in very easily at the waist, seat, and legs. Remember, it’s easier and cheaper to take things in and make things shorter, and not the other way around!
- and ask for a second opinion from a friend, the sales associate, or the stylist at the store that you are at.
For in-store options, Nordstrom and Aritzia are places I can think of to recommend. I like Nordstrom because they have a good variety of brands and styles to choose from. Although I don’t need any human help when it comes to choosing the pair of trousers that I like, I still love talking to the sales associates sometimes. For example, I’ve found my most favorite pair of black trousers that I love and still wear to date at the Aritzia store in Bellevue Square Mall in Bellvue, WA. I asked the sales associate what trousers she had on, and she helped me locate the black pair. Lastly, Nordstrom Rack is not a bad place to start just because they have stuff from Nordstrom at a much more affordable price. The Banana Republic, Jcrew, Uniqlo, Madewell are also great places to start.
Even though I’ve said you’d most likely find it hard to find a pair of good trousers online, I shop the majority of my trousers online. Online shops that immediately come to mind when it comes to trousers that you can have easy access to are Everlane, ASOS, COS, Massimo Dutti, Mango, Topshop, and & Other Stories. If you live in the UK or Europe, there is the infamous Arket. For designers and high-end brands, Net A Porter, Farfetch, Ssense, Shopbop, and Nordstrom are great one-stop for all. I love discovering new brands and fits from bloggers I love via Instagram and their blogs/Youtube channels.
2. Know Your Body
Here is my body for preference: I am 5ft5 and weigh 120lbs. I have a smaller waist but slightly bigger thighs, flat butt and a wider hip (well, at least those are my body description as compared to most people who are my height and my size that I know of.) Please know that there is no perfect or ideal body type I’m referencing here, just my own experience when it comes to shopping, and I shop a lot! Many would think I’m a petite Asian, but I wear everything in Regular U.S sizing. I don’t like Petite sizes on me.
When it comes to trousers, people immediately think of a more well-put-together, professional, and tailored look. Trousers to me are all about the fabric and the fit, and once I get those things down, I can easily dress them up or down for any occasion! I personally like a boyish dressing, unisex, slightly over-sized fit in things, so I stay away from super skinny and tight fitted trousers. I find that what flatters my body shape the most are high waisted trousers. I like things pleated at the front, really fitted fit at the waist, and relaxed straight legs without being too short or too long. They have to fit me perfectly around the waist without being too uncomfortably tight when sitting down, and they should stay on my waist without the need for a belt. Chic but make it comfortable is my fashion philosophy as of lately!
For you, things might be different! For example, for boyish straighter body shape, high waisted styles will highlight the waist area, feel free to use a belt to create an illusion of curves (it’s just more flattering, you know?), and fabric cannot be too stiff. For curvy shapes, opt for slim and cropped trousers that have a bit of stretch because they will make your life so much easier!
3. Then Get Familiarized with Fabrics, Colors, and Fits
Cashmere and wool might seem like a luxurious investment buy. However, when it comes to trousers that are prone to constant rubbing, stretched and strained all day, you’d want to look for something else with longevity in mind. I usually opt for a blend of natural and synthetic when it comes to trouser materials just because the synthetic fibers add strength and durability that natural fibers lack.
The safest route for those of you who have yet to explore or own any good pairs of trousers is to keep your trouser palette neutrals: black, navy, gray, white and subtle plaids or stripes are okay, too!
Once you try on a good variety of trousers made by different brands, you’d start picking up patterns and trends. You’ll figure out which brand makes the best trousers for your body shape. For instance, I don’t like how Zara pants look and fit on me, but Topshop and Massimo Dutti do work for me. Mango sizing is also a hit-and-miss sometimes, so I’d like to order a few pairs every time they have a sale. That is to ensure I at least get to keep one good pair if I happen to desperately look or need something. See how they are all European brands with sizings that are slightly big on my Asian figure? I shop a lot and also try on a bunch, so that is why I only buy certain things from certain brands.
4. Measure Your Inseam
Do you own a measuring tape? Get yourself one to get a good measurement of your waist and inseam! My waist is 25 in, and my inseam measurement from the crotch of my favorite pants to the ground is 29 in. Hence, my ideal trousers are 25 inches in waist and 30 in inseam. However, lots of brands make trousers in even numbers starting from 00 or 0 or XS, S, M, etc. I do also need to dig a bit deeper by reading descriptions and reviews for fit.
If you know your waist but don’t have a measuring tape at home or with you, the easiest way to find out your inseam is to bring in two pairs of trousers with the same waist but different inseam into your fitting room. Most brands make trousers with the inseam measurement of 28, 30, or 32, so keep that in mind to avoid a trip to your tailor. But please do make an effort to make sure things are not dragging on the ground. Just don’t buy if you’re in doubt!
For petite or plus-sizing, things are very different, so please drop a comment below for trousers-related advice and recommendation!
5. Details Matter!
And last but not least, there are more things to consider when it comes to shopping for trousers and making them fit you to your body.
- Wear your shoes when shopping and bring them to the tailor, too. That helps to get the perfect leg length if you’re going for formal and professional trousers!
- A lot of the time, you can cheat by opting for higher or shorter heel height. Cropped ankle trousers look great in kitten pointy heels. Flared trousers do need extra height from platform heels. And sneakers do seem to work with almost all the trousers I feel. Just make sure the hem is barely touching the ground. I’d say 0.5 inch is good!
- Visible Panty Line (VPL) is not cute nor professional, so opt for thongs, boyshorts or layer tights, pantyhose, or shapewear over your underwear!
- Don’t throw your trousers in the wash. Spot treat any areas with a Tide pen, some Dr. Bronner soap, and water, or hand wash and air dry them.
- Always read the care instructions for how to wash your trousers. When in doubt, wash them in cold water setting and hang to dry. Most of the trousers need to be dry cleaned, but not all. This is to help to maintain the crisp look and longevity of your trousers.
- Invest in a portable steamer for loser knitted trousers and iron for a crisper look
And then know that there is nothing that a good tailor cannot do.
A pair of trousers or even a few pairs of different fits, styles, and fabrics are timeless wardrobe essentials! To me, a good pair of trousers can or should be worn from the workplace to a dinner party. They need to be effortless and versatile! So keep all of the tips I’ve shared above in mind, take some notes as I’m sure they will come as second nature next time when you’re out shopping for trousers for any occasions your heart desires. Let me know if you have any specific questions, comment below or DM me on Instagram @antrieu, I’d love to help!
OUTFIT: trousers: TOTEME | top: TOPSHOP | coat: CLUB MONACO via RENT THE RUNWAY (Use code RTRAN for $$ off) | bag: YSL| mules: JIMMY CHOO | watch: ROSEFIELD | all jewelry: MEJURI
Here I’m wearing a new pair of black trousers from Toteme, one of my favorite brands for elevated basics. I will talk more about them and do a thorough review in my next monthly Wardrobe Essential Diary. Read the first installment for January, HERE. The amazing trench coat is a rental from Rent The Runway, and it’s from Club Monaco. I’ve linked the exact coat but the different colors available below. Thank you for reading!
SHOP MY OUTFIT: