I USED to think I had lots of black pants—maybe a dozen or more. But that’s chopped liver compared to Managing Editor Nancy McKeon’s whopping 37 (not including some folded knits that she didn’t realize she had). Well, that was the number she reported back in March when she was putting her house up for sale. Now that she’s moved, she’s on a mission to donate a bunch of them.
The answer to why we have so many can only be because we’re on the quest for those PERFECT BLACK PANTS. Does that pair even exist? Nancy got excited last spring when she got a postcard from Eileen Fisher (see photo above) announcing not one pair of perfect black pants, but “5 essential shapes, 1 beloved fabric,” a textured washable stretch crepe. Currently on EF’s website, they feature three perfect shapes: slim, tapered and wide (in that stretch crepe).
We all have our favorite shapes and lengths, but it’s fair to say we do need a wardrobe of pants, that one “perfect” pair cannot do the whole job (think boot-cut, cropped pants, wide-leg, breezy linens in warm weather—the list goes on).
Art Director Kathy swears by a couple of pairs from Eileen Fisher. “I’ve had some of mine for at least 20 years, and they still look like almost new. The trick is to always have them dry-cleaned even though they’re supposed to be washable.”
Kathy goes for the full-length, straight-leg style, with an elastic waistband. “I’ve had them so long, in fact, that I’ve had to have the elastic replaced in at least two pair,” she writes.
Pat Byrne thinks an elastic waistband is a sign that you’ve simply given up. Her favorite is the Bleecker pant from Lafayette 148 New York. She’s long in the torso, and the rise is high enough to reach all the way up to her waist, where she wants the waistband (isn’t that why they call it a waistband?). She notes, though, that she usually buys them on sale.
Even since I discovered them at Washington DC’s Relish boutique, I’ve been a devoted buyer of Joseph’s gabardine leggings. When I couldn’t find my favorite pair a couple of years ago, I kept buying different labels (Theory, Everlane, etc.) in hopes of replacing the ones I’d lost. No dice. Luckily a month or so later my husband uncovered my Josephs lurking in a dry cleaner bag along with his trousers.
LEFT: Lightweight, washable Stretch Crepe Skinny-Leg Ankle Pants in a viscose-nylon blend come in midnight, black and charcoal and are $178 at Eileen Fisher.
RIGHT: The Bleecker Italian Stretch Wool Pants, and of course it comes in black (as well as white, ink, dark gray, light gray; khaki is shown). They’re $378 at Lafayette148.
LEFT: Lafayette 148 New York’s Finesse Crepe Cumberland Pant ($448) has a flattering wide leg, complemented by a pleated front and high waist with an attached grosgrain belt.
RIGHT: Fit On-the-Go Full-Leg Crops in a poly blend with stretch. They’re $79 at J.Jill.
LEFT: Eileen Fisher’s Stretch Crepe Wide-Leg Ankle Pants come in dark blue, brown, black and charcoal and are $278.
RIGHT: “Cold shoulder” tops leave a lot to be desired (mostly more fabric), but the bold front vents in A.L.C.’s Conway Double-Slit Pants could provide a flirty little flutter when you walk. They’re $395 at Neiman Marcus.
LEFT: Satin Trousers ($453, Farfetch) feel special, and you can dress them up or down. I prefer wearing them for an occasion. Pairing them with a black satin or silk blouse would be très chic. CENTER: I’ve worn my Joseph Gabardine Stretch Leggings (they come in navy and black, white and teal) so many times I bet if I figured out the per-wear cost it would be about $1. The Joseph label refers to them as an elevated essential. Agreed. They sell for $295. RIGHT: Leather pants are something I think I’d also wear a lot. They usually hover at the $1,000 mark, so these faux Leather High-Waisted Trousers from Nanushka ($408, Farfetch) appeal to my budget.
If all that plain black gets to you, here’s an antidote from Versace. These pull-on black, white and gold silk-twill pants with zebra stripes and starfish are $795 at Farfetch.