WHAT CAN you wear from morning to dusk, go out for dinner in and not have to change in between? That was the question a couple of friends challenged me to find an answer to last weekend.
It reminded me of the theory behind designer Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces in 1985. Looking back on her “system” with an AP reporter in 2015, Karan explained: “I wanted clothes that could go from the minute I got up in the morning to the minute I went to bed at night. I wanted clothes to go through that whole cycle, because I found that I didn’t have time to go home and change. It was like, if I put them all in a suitcase and went off to Europe, what would I pack?”
Karan’s collection was based on a black bodysuit with additional basics like a white shirt, black trousers, a black leather jacket and a large scarf.
In the years since other designers have introduced what they’re calling capsules or systems. Meghan Markle designer pal Misha Nonoo is showing an eight-piece “kit,” one of which —a black pleated skirt —was recently worn by the Duchess of Sussex. On her website, Eileen Fisher is showing an eight and a 20-piece system of staples meant to be mixed and matched.
To my friends to whom I said I’d work on a solution about what to wear every day, I recommend starting with a great-fitting pair of charcoal, black or navy pants. If there’s one item in my closet that doesn’t fail me whatever the occasion, it’s my gabardine leggings (one in black, another in navy from Joseph). A Pittsburgh pal swears by her Lululemon pants for its deep and multiple pockets, roomy enough so a cell phone and or keys don’t jump out when she’s walking her dogs. MyLittleBird’s Mary Carpenter tests the merits of pants by whether or not they bag and wrinkle after sitting for hours on an airplane. Her go-tos are from Ecru and Anatomie. LittleBird Kathy Legg gives her nod to Eileen Fisher. Finally, I have a soft spot for Theory pants.
Here are our picks for wear-everywhere (well, almost) pants:
Left: Lululemon’s medium-rise, lightweight Street to Studio Pant II (also in gray, black olive) is made with a stretch fabric that is water-repellent. $98, Lululemon. Right: Castro Slim Leg Pull On Pant in a stretchy ponte fabric sports a seaming detail that runs down the front and outer thigh, designed to make your legs look thinner. Sign us up. $164, Ecru.
Left: For travel and every-day errands, Kate Slim Cargo Pants from Anatomie, which gets high marks for its wrinkle-free, moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric that’s also got SPF. $225, Neiman Marcus. Right: Washable Stretch Crepe Straight Pants ($168), EileenFisher. (See MyLittleBird’s post on the designer’s pros and cons.)
Left: Joseph’s Gabardine Stretch Leggings are my personal dawn-to-dusk go-to. Expensive, but they last for years. $295, Joseph. Right: Crepe Basic Pull-On Pants with zip pockets and an elasticized waistband are comfy and look polished year-round. $114 in midnight (shown), Theory.