Dressing for work has felt like a lost art in recent years, but it’s time to reevaluate the beauty of a slick work wardrobe. While every office has a different take on the level of formality required, you can build endless looks around certain key pieces—especially a great pair of slacks. The best work pants for women can be dressed up or down easily: Pair a wide-leg style, for example, with a crisp button-down shirt for meetings or loosen it up with a white t-shirt and sporty sneakers for more casual, less corporate days.
You’ll want to keep a few pairs at the ready in your closet, and to find ones that last, focus on the fit, quality and comfort. To narrow the options, we asked stylists for their advice on the best work pants for women and found eight pairs that earned good performance reviews. Everlane’s The Way High Drape Pant is our best overall pick for its flattering silhouette and elegant draping while Old Navy’s High-Waisted Heathered Pixie Straight Ankle Pants give you a similarly polished look with a more basic, slim cut for under $50. Here’s what else to put on your checklist:
Best Work Pants For Women Overall
Classic High-Waisted Style
Best Affordable Work Pants For Women
High Quality Yet Budget-Friendly
Best Women’s Dress Work Pants
Elegant And Refined
Most Comfortable Work Pants For Women
Fitted Style With Built-In Stretch
Best Plus-Size Work Pants For Women
Streamlined Pockets And Multiple Lengths
Best Petite Work Pants For Women
Designed For Shorter Frames
Best Black Work Pants For Women
A Wear-Everyday Staple
Best Khaki Work Pants For Women
A Comfortable Classic
What To Look For In The Best Work Pants For Women
- Material: “The right material depends on the style of pant,” Franklin says. “For a slim leg silhouette, look for a polyblend or fabric that has stretch.” For a pleated wide-leg pant, Franklin recommends options that allow movement, such as a linen blend, silk or satin. Lopez also prefers finding a wool-blend or cotton-based pants for comfort. Or consider triacetate, which is wrinkle-resistant, and elastane or spandex to create stretch in pants.
- Silhouette: “Thanks to suiting and menswear-inspired trends, there are a ton of trouser options out there,” Franklin says. Silhouette is largely based on personal preference. Slim legged pants are the most classic fit while wide-legged pants are a slouchier, more relaxed option.
- Care: In order to keep your work pants pristine, Lopez recommends washing in cold water, hanging dry or putting in the dryer on low to medium heat, if absolutely necessary. “You can also dry clean, if the pants are made from a delicate fabric,” she says. “Hot water will fade colors, shrink and break down the fabric over time.” To avoid creasing in the leg and waistband, Franklin suggests clipping pants at the bottom of the leg on your hanger.
What Is The Difference Between Work Pants And Slacks?
“Dress pants and slacks are essentially the same exact thing,” Lopez says, “Dress pants typically are part of the suit and semi-formal pants family, and slacks embody a wider demographic of pants that are worn by themselves without a suit jacket or blazer— mainly cotton or wool work pants, chinos and khakis.” That being said, the terms are largely used interchangeably.
What Are The Most Comfortable Work Pants?
Traditionally, work pants required a button and a zipper, but nowadays, there are so many more options out there. For an extra comfy fit, Lopez suggests looking for a pant with an elastic waistband, some stretch to the pant leg or a loose silhouette so it’s not tight on your stomach or legs when you sit down.
How Do You Find The Right Work Pants For Your Body Type?
Franklin recommends playing with different proportions to find the style that works for you. “I think a lot of people are afraid to try new things out,” she finds. For a petite silhouette, Lopez suggests looking for a more fitted, tapered leg. “If your largest area is your thighs or butt, consider a high-waisted trouser that will elongate your legs with a straight or wide pant leg,” she says. If you want tummy control, she adds, “look for a thicker and higher waistband with a wide or flare pant leg so the eye is drawn down your body. To create curves, go for a flared pant leg, jogger or culottes to add volume and dimension to your lower half, advises Lopez.