The 10 Best Women's Dress Pants of 2021
Find the perfect pair for your workweek wardrobe
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Finding the right pair of dress pants that not only reflects your style, but also look flattering can be challenging for some women. If you’re not sure what style is best, owner of Swirl Boutique and fashion stylist Lisa Landers recommends going with pants that have a mid to high rise that falls smoothly over the hips and thighs. “The leg opening style should be your choice,” she says.
Fabric is the next important factor to consider. According to fashion stylist Brooke Rounick, “In the warmer months, cotton or linen pant fabric will stand as the most breathable material and easy to dress up or down depending on your needs. Wool is heavier weighted and perfect for curating a formal and sophisticated outfit,” she says.
Then there’s the comfort factor. If that is the case, Rounick suggests opting for Spandex or a blend. “It provides the most stretch and comfort and hugs your body in all the right places for a flattering fit.”
Whether you wear dress pants to work or simply prefer a more polished look for the weekends, here are the best dress pants to consider, no matter your size, body type or budget.
Best Overall: M.M. Lafleur Foster Pants
It’s hard to find pants that flatter most figures, are available in a range of sizes, and versatile enough for all occasions, but M.M. Lafleur’s Foster Pants meet all of these criteria. They’re even available in petite, regular and plus sizes.
Choose from seven colors: Black, Dark Navy, Dark Olive, Dark Spruce, Monsoon (grey), Russet (tan) and Starry Night (bright blue). These straight-leg cigarette pants are made from a thick Italian cotton blend fabric that provides enough stretch to hug curves, yet are structured enough to be appropriate for the office.
Designed for maximum versatility, there’s a concealed button at the bottom of each leg that allows you to change the length of the hem from full-length to cropped in seconds. This also makes it possible to wear them with flats and heels in a variety of heights.
But the best part about these pants is that they’re machine-washable, so you don’t need to send them to the dry cleaners. Just set the washing machine to cold and hang dry.
Best Budget: Old Navy Mid-Rise Boot-Cut Khakis
Labels can be deceiving because although Old Navy calls these pants khakis, they’re available in five colors including Black Jack, Classic Navy, Blank Slate (grey), Crumb On Down (dark khaki) and Rolled Oats (light khaki). With flattering faux pockets in the back and front slant pockets, these medium weight stretch twill pants are an ideal wardrobe basic that won’t cost your entire paycheck.
Another reason they’re budget-friendly is that they’re made from a machine washable blend of cotton and spandex. Think of all the cash you can save on dry cleaning over time.
An ideal office staple, they compliment most blazers and button-downs. The mid-rise waist, front button closure, zip fly, and bootcut hem flatters most body types. This is likely why they’re available in regular, petite and tall from sizes zero to 20.
Related: The Best Work-From-Home Clothes
Most Stylish: Reformation Mason Pant
If style is your top priority, then opt for the Mason Pant by Reformation. Ideal for those occasions when you want a polished yet on-trend aesthetic, these pants are just as comfortable as they are chic.
With a high rise slim waist, they’re ideally accessorized with your favorite designer belt. The relaxed leg makes them easy to move in, yet provides a more formal silhouette.
Landers likes to add a chic, slightly oversized blazer to a high rise pant. “It instantly elevates the look. Add a chunky, gold, linked chain statement necklace to complete the office cool-girl style,” she says.
While there are only two color options available for these pants— black and khaki, they’re both versatile enough to work with a variety of tops and outerwear.
Available in size zero to 12 regular and petite, they’re made from 100% Tencel Lyocell, which is a soft, lightweight material that comes from the Eucalyptus trees. Sustainably manufactured in Los Angeles, it only takes half an acre of these trees to make one ton of fiber. Another benefit of Tencel Lyocell is that it doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned or machine-washed. Simply wash your Mason pants by hand and lay flat to dry.
Best Plus-Size: Eloquii Kady Fit Double-Weave Pant
Made of a combination of cotton, nylon, and spandex, it’s easy to understand why Eloquii’s Kady Fit Double-Weave Pants are the brand’s top seller. Machine washable and available in fourteen different colors, you’ll want to buy more than one pair. Choose from basics like Classic Navy, Black and Espresso Brown or more unique colors like Marigold, Festival Fuchsia, and Sparkling Grape.
Thanks to a classic cut, these slacks are figure-flattering, defining both the waist and hips. Four pockets—two in the front and two in the back add a touch of detail and convenience. The hook and bar closure hides a button at the waist, making them easy to put on and take off.
These are great everyday pants that can take you from the office to happy hour. Available in sizes 14 to 28, there are also three different hem lengths - short, regular and tall, ensuring a perfect fit for every woman.
Best For Petites: J. Crew High-Rise Cameron Pant In Four-Season Stretch
It’s not always easy to find versatile pants in petite sizes, which is why J.Crew’s High-Rise Cameron Pants In Four-Season Stretch are a great wardrobe staple. With a slim fit through the hips and thighs as well as a cropped leg, they easily flatter most petite bodies. You can even wear them with most types of shoes from flats to high heels.
Thanks to a fabric that’s a combination of polyester, viscose, and elastane, they’re warm enough for winter, yet light enough for spring and summer. Better yet, they’re machine washable.
Made in five colors—Black, Navy, Bright Cherry, Bright Plum, and Graphic Charcoal, they’re an essential part of a woman’s work wardrobe that easily mixes and matches with most tops. The petite cut is available in size double zero to 12.
While these pants are rated best for petites, they fit other body types as well with regular sizes ranging from double zero to 24 and tall sizes from zero to 20.
Best For Comfort: Curves 360 By NYDJ Linen Blend Pants
Most linen pants tend to be wide-legged which isn’t necessarily flattering for most figures. Another pitfall of linen is that it wrinkles very easily. So, linen-blend pants like these from Curves 360 By NYDJ are a much wiser fashion choice. And unlike 100 percent linen pants, they’re machine washable.
Best of all, these pants are easy to move around in, yet cut to slim, support and lift the body. You’ll feel extra confident wearing them.
With several color and style options, you might also want to consider ordering more than one pair. While Black and Straw are great colors for all year round— Optic White, Agua Stripe and Slubby Stripe are more appropriate for spring and summer. They’re just as useful for work as they are for the weekends and vacations.
As for sizing, these pants are very inclusive with regular sizes available from double zero to 12 and sizes 14 to 18 for plus.
Best For Tall Women: Lands' End Women's Tall Active 5 Pocket Pants
Do you go from the office straight to yoga? Then, you’re going to love Lands’ Ends Women’s Tall Active 5 Pocket Pants. They look like your average pair of casual dress pants, but they’re made from a moisture-wicking fabric that has a hint of stretch. With an interior elastic drawcord, there’s no need to change between a conference call and Cobra pose.
But unlike true activewear, these pants have functional pockets in the front and back, so you don’t have to worry about losing your locker key. The fabric’s odor control finish helps keep you feeling fresh and clean.
Available in size XS to XL, these pants are sized more like yoga pants than dress or work pants. Because Lands’ End uses the True Fit system, it’s easy to find the correct size. The 33-inch pre-hemmed inseam assures tall women won’t have to worry about their pants looking too short.
Choose from Black, Deep Sea Navy, or Warm Graphite colors.
Related: The Best Leggings for Work
Best Pull-On: Theory Treeca Pull-On Pants
Theory’s Trecca pants are best for those days when you need to look sophisticated, but want to feel comfortable. While they lack a zipper, they don’t lack style or comfort. Available in sizes double zero to 18, these pull-on pants are comfortable, yet have a true dress pant aesthetic. The faux zip fly and side zip pockets create a professional-looking silhouette. The ankle-length hem allows you to show off your favorite pair of shoes, no matter how high or low the heels are.
Designed to be worn every day, whether you walk to work or take public transportation, the combination of linen, viscose and elastane gives, so you can stand up, sit down and move around.
If you only buy one pair of these pants, choose the Black ones because they’re wearable all year round. The Sky and White colors are better for the spring and summer months.
Best Side Zip: Everlane The Side-Zip Work Pant
If you prefer a side-zip, you can’t go wrong with Everlane’s The Side Zip Work Pant. Versatile and affordable, there are seven styles and colors available from classics like Black and Navy to Coca Brown and Shale Houndstooth prints. With a range of sizes from double zero to 16 in regular and ankle lengths, these pants are useful for all occasions from work to date night.
The cotton and elastane blend gives and moves with a four-way stretch. The high waist and skinny cut skim the body for a sleek look. The back seam is a high-quality detail that lengthens the legs and provides an overall sophisticated look.
With a hem that’s cut right above the ankle, it’s possible to wear any kind of shoe from ballet flats and loafers to pumps and kitten heels.
Landers suggests wearing side zip pants with a bodysuit and blazer. “Or pair it with a mid crop sweater, front tucked for an effortless luxury look,” she says.
Best Ankle Pants: Vince Camuto Ponte Ankle Pants
Whether you like the look of ankle pants or you’re short and ankle pants are regular length for you, opting for Vince Camuto Ponte Ankle Pants is a smart idea. While they’re only made in black, they’re still very versatile. Polished and professional, they’re the right choice for most offices and work environments.
“We love a good ankle pant because it is easy to pair with your favorite sneakers or show off your cute new fall boots. Bonus, if you are on the shorter side because there's no need to hem this length pant,” says Landers.
Dress these pants up with more formal pieces and accessories Monday through Thursday. Then wear them with a cotton blouse for casual Friday.
The one drawback of these pants is that they’re made from a blend of fabrics that tend to pill including rayon, nylon, and polyester. So, while they are labeled as machine washable, it’s a better idea to have them dry-cleaned if you want them to last. Still, at an affordable price, you won’t regret it if you only get a few seasons from them.
Old Navy’s Khakis (view on Old Navy) are the best overall women's dress pants because of their universal appeal and affordable price point. These pants are made of 97 percent cotton and, with their mid-rise bootcut design, they'll fit a variety of styles. For more inclusive sizing, a great option is Eloquii’s Kady Fit Pants (view on Eloquii). Made from a tailored double-weave material, these pants keep their shape all day long. They're also fitted to flatter your hips and curves.
What are the different styles of dress pants?
Dress pants come in a variety of styles, silhouettes, colors, sizes, and patterns. Along with the tried-and-true classic straight pant, there are styles like chino, maxi, flare, paper-bag, and high-waisted pants to choose from. In terms of color, you can go for traditional hues like black, navy, or gray, or, make a statement with colors like mustard yellow, olive green, or hot pink.
What are the best brands for dress pants?
Brands like Banana Republic and Everlane are go-to options as they're a dependable resource for classic, affordable work clothes. A few other places to consider are Reformation and Madewell for their environmentally-friendly practices. Target and Uniqlo are great budget-friendly choices, while Express, H&M, ASOS, and Zara lean more towards trendy styles.
How should my dress pants fit?
While trying on dress pants, you'll want to look out for details such as creasing in the crotch (usually a sign that the seat of the pants is either too long or too tight), how they fit around the waist, where the waistband rests, leg length, and how the fabric drapes. Of course, take these considerations in mind according to your body type; some pants might need to be tailored at the waist and have correct measurements for your hip, thighs, waist, and legs.
What's the best fabric for dress pants?
Cotton is one of the more popular choices, especially for casual styles, as it's a breathable, natural fabric that stays cool. Other widely used fabrics are knit, silk, spandex, wool, and synthetic blends such as nylon, rayon, and polyester. Keep in mind, though, that quality can vary dramatically depending on where you shop. As well, synthetic fabrics are less susceptible to short-term wear and tear.
Meet the Expert
This roundup was written by Amanda Lauren, a lifestyle writer who covers fashion and office accessories for The Balance and The Balance Small Business.