The 16 Best Black Work Pants That Will Elevate Your Back-to-Office Wardrobe

Dressing for work just got so much easier.

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Best Black Pants for Work

InStyle / Jaclyn Mastropasqua

If you feel like you've forgotten how to dress for working in the office, don't worry, we're a little rusty, too. But if there's one essential we know to invest in, it's a good pair of black pants. "Black trousers are such a staple in a woman's wardrobe, from the office to a night out," says Dani Michelle, the celebrity stylist behind the looks of the Kardashians and Jenners. Today's pants go beyond classic slacks to leather and linen options with each being just as versatile as the last. When researching the best black work pants, we looked for designs that can be worn in numerous ways, come in a wide range of sizes and lengths, and are easy to care for (meaning wrinkle-resistant and machine washable fabrics). We spoke to three experts and tried a few pairs ourselves to determine what deserves to be called the best.

Best Overall

J. Crew Kate Straight-Leg Pant in Bi-Stretch Cotton

J. Crew Kate Straight-Leg Pant in Bi-Stretch Cotton

J. Crew

What We Love: They are easy to care for and to style.
What We Don't Love: There are no belt loops.

Beloved by Meghan Markle, J.Crew is known for making timeless workwear pieces for all body types, and these pants are just that. The straight, slightly cropped leg is not too tight nor too loose and pairs nicely with a variety of tops and shoes. The style features the brand's signature front-perfecting pockets, which create a smooth, sculpted look. Made from responsibly grown cotton, the fabric is stretchy and breathable and can be machine washed, so you don't have to worry about racking up a hefty dry cleaning bill. They come in regular, tall, and petite sizing meaning no hemming is required.

Price at time of publish: $98

Size Range: 00-24, tall and petite available | Materials: Cotton, viscose, elastane | Rise: High

Best Budget

H&M Tapered Linen-Blend Pants

H&M Tapered Linen-Blend Pants

Courtesy of H&M

What We Love: The linen fabric makes these a breezy option for the summer. 

What We Don't Love: Wear light undergarments underneath this piece because even though they’re black, the openness of the linen’s weave makes them slightly see-through.

Besides fitting in with the coastal grandma aesthetic, as a lightweight fabric, linen will keep you cool during heat waves, especially on a commute to your office via sweaty, packed in subways. But to keep it from wrinkling too much, find one mixed with another fabric, like this pair from H&M, which has a splash of rayon in it. Of course, we’re fans of the high-waist, but we also like the tapered fit on this pair that ends in a slight crop instead of your traditional straight leg. The sleekness will elevate your office attire, and to take it one step further, we recommend trying the matching blazer.

Price at time of publish: $35

Size Range: 0-26 | Materials: Rayon, linen | Rise: High

Best Splurge

The Row Marce Pant

The Row Marce Pant

Courtesy of Net-A-Porter

What We Love: They’re the right amount of stretch, slouch, and breathability. 

What We Don't Love: We wish the sizing was more inclusive. You’ll also have to dry clean these. 

Sure, these look like your standard black trouser, but we promise they’re worth the hefty price tag. We love the subtle, luxury details in this pant, such as the perfectly crafted front pleats, which elongate the leg and draw the eye up. The slouchy, extra long hem also gives a bit of a borrowed-from-the-boys flair — almost as if you reimagined a vintage menswear suit — that completely covers the shoe. But aside from the design, take a look at the fabric, for instance: it’s a luxury combination of virgin wool, mohair, and cotton. The trio results in pants that are stretchy, not too loose, and lightweight, but at the same time, they are not too breezy. It offers the right amount of slouch and breathability to wear year-round — and we think the amount of ways you can style this make it worth the price, too. Add a pair of heels to flatter the longer hem and appear a bit more formal for any important meeting or try a pair of shearling lined loafers for a true menswear-inspired look. And if you would like to try a pair of black silk pants for the office, we also like the brand’s Lazco style, made of 100 percent silk with a flattering high-waist, wide-leg style.

Price at time of publish: $1,250

Size Range: 0-14 | Materials: Virgin wool, mohair, cotton | Rise: High

Best Wide Leg

M.M. Lafleur The Milo Jean - Better Than Denim, Black

M.M. Lafleur The Milo Jean - Better Than Denim, Black

M.M. LaFleur

What We Love: They are technically jeans but they look polished like trousers.

What We Don't Love: They run large.

If you prefer jeans over pants, check out this "Better Than Denim" style from M.M.LaFleur. Though these pants are technically jeans, the wide silhouette and brushed denim make them look just as polished as trousers. The Turkish two-way stretch cotton is stretchy and comfortable, which is ideal when sitting in the office all day. For anyone that has started their workday with perfectly crisp pants only to walk out with wrinkles, you will rejoice knowing these pants are wrinkle-resistant. And we can't get over the concealed snap in the hem that lets you adjust the length of the pants. You can hem them for flats during the day and roll them down when wearing heels to happy hour.

Price at time of publish: $245

Size Range: 0P-18 | Materials: Cotton, elastane | Rise: High

Best Plus-Size

Eloquii The Ultimate Suit Pintuck Pant

Eloquii The Ultimate Suit Pintuck Pant

Courtesy of Eloquii

What We Love: They hug your curves without gapping at the waist.
What We Don't Love: There are no belt hoops.

These sharp pintuck pants from Eloquii look professional, but because they have a fit that almost feels custom-made — it comes in three different inseams (25-inch, 27-inch, and 29-inch) and plenty of stretch to mold to your figure — they'll feel more comfortable than your typical work pants. Just be aware that it has no belt loops, so you'll need to make sure it fits you well in the waist. But they don't gap at the waist, which is a common problem many curvy women, especially those with larger hips and a booty, experience, negating the need for a belt. And while we know sometimes the more spandex included in a pant, the cheaper they feel (or they just don't last quite as long), this still feels thick without being bulky. They hit just at the ankle, too, giving you the opportunity to pair it with chic shoes.

Price at time of publish: $80

Size Range: 14-32, tall and short available | Materials: Rayon, nylon, spandex | Rise: Mid

Best Petite

Petite Studio Maven Pants

Petite Studio Maven Pants

Courtesy of Petite Studio

What We Love: They hit shorter figures right at the ankles.

What We Don't Love: The sizing could be more inclusive.

Anyone who is five-foot-four or under knows that shopping for work pants can be a nightmare. And when we do find the right pair, investing in a seamstress to adjust the garment length is a task on its own. That’s why we adore petite brands, like Petite Studio, which designs clothing catered towards this height range. These slim yet stretchy trousers, in particular, are designed to sit high on the waist and drape along the legs on shorter heights for an illusion of a taller silhouette. The rest of the pants are classically tailored, but have a laid-back design with the side slits (that you can fasten or wear open) on each leg. Our only complaint? We wish the size range catered towards curvy petites.

Price at time of publish: $138

Size Range: XXS-L | Materials: Polyester | Rise: High

Best Tall

Madewell The Tall Harlow Wide-Leg Pant

Madewell The Tall Harlow Wide-Leg Pant

Courtesy of Madewell

What We Love: They have extra fabric to cater towards those on the taller side. 

What We Don't Love: The sizing runs big.

Tall women tend to have just as much difficulty as petite women when finding pants that fit. But if a pair of pants is too short, there’s not much you can do — you just have to rock with the accidental cropped fit. Because everyone deserves to find a pair that fits them as advertised, and not a few inches too short at the leg, we suggest this pair from Madewell, which offers every kind of fit, including tall. The straight, sailor-inspired leg on these pants have a 33-inch inseam, allowing you to relax about whether or not these will appear too short. The high-waist and wide leg will also further accentuate your long legs and height. We appreciate that these are relatively summer-friendly, too, since they’re a cotton, linen, and tencel blend, which are all lightweight, breathable fabrics that won’t cling to your body and allow lots of airflow.

Price at time of publish: $118

Size Range: 00-16 | Materials: Tencel, lyocell, cotton, linen | Rise: High

Best Split Hem

Reformation Fletcher Pant, Black

Reformation Fletcher Pant


What We Love: They strike the right balance of sexy yet sophisticated.

What We Don't Love: You can't throw these in the washer.

Slit pants are all the rage recently, and while they are very fitting for the dance floor, this pair from Reformation is classy enough to still wear to work. The pants have a straight fit and a short split hem that shows off just the right amount of skin. What is the point of having a slit in your pants, you ask? It's great at showcasing your footwear, whether that's a heel, boot, or sneaker. Crafted in Los Angeles, these pants were made with less water and carbon dioxide waste. Do note though that it's recommended you hand wash them. Did we mention they also come in petite sizing?

Price at time of publish: $158

Size Range: XS-XL, petite available | Materials: Micro modal, spandex | Rise: High

Best High-Waisted

Banana Republic Sculpted Straight Pant

Banana Republic Sculpted Straight Pant

Courtesy of Banana Republic

What We Love: They’re a slim fit throughout. 

What We Don't Love: The legs run long.

A high-waisted pair of pants looks flattering on nearly every body shape by accentuating the waist and creating an hourglass figure. And for the office, a pair of black pants paired with a simple white-button up, flounce-y top, or extra-padded oversized blazer with the pants will channel '80s power dressing as part of the decade's comeback. We like this option from  Banana Republic because it comes at an affordable price, yet looks put-together and high-end, especially when paired with a statement belt and classic loafer. Because high-waisted pants elongate the leg, we recommend this for anyone who is on the shorter side, too, since it also comes in petite sizes.

Price at time of publish: $54

Size Range: 0-20, petite available | Materials: Polyester, spandex | Rise: High

Best Wool

J.Crew Cameron Slim Cropped Pant

J.Crew Cameron Slim Cropped Pant

Courtesy of J.Crew

What We Love: The wool-elastane blend is soft, comfortable, and breathable to wear regardless of the weather. 

What We Don't Love: You have to dry clean these.

Not only does wool have an elegance to it that's perfect for the office, but it's breathable, wrinkle-resistant, and helps you regulate your temperature no matter if it's hot or cold. You can enjoy all the benefits of the fabric in J.Crew's version. The slim-fit, cropped leg cut holds you in, contours your waist, and slightly lifts the behind with all the softness from the wool. The wool is sourced from one of Italy’s oldest mills and has a bit of elastane mixed in for added stretch and comfort. Throw on one of the brand’s matching blazers, including the Parke Blazer (which we named our best overall blazer for women) with the same fabric blend, for a borrowed-from-the-boys look, and pair with a classic flat or heeled sandal to show off the ankles. Keep in mind the sizing runs large, so size down if you prefer an exact fit, and you have to dry clean these, which could be a hassle to fit into a busy schedule.

Price at time of publish: $188

Size Range: 00-24, classic, tall, and petite available | Materials: Wool, elastane | Rise: Mid

Best Cropped

Aritzia Wilfred Effortless Cropped Pant

Aritzia Wilfred Effortless Cropped Pant

Courtesy of Aritzia

What We Love: It features a wide leg, drapey fabric, and multiple inseams.

What We Don't Love: The crepe fabric is delicate and may snag easily.

Cropped pants are the best way to show off your shoes, and they work all year round, whether you pair them with boots or sandals. The wide leg in this style balances out your hips and gives off a flirty vibe while the knife pleats keep it polished. Made from crepette, a drapey, crepe fabric with a matte finish, these pants are super comfortable and look more expensive than they are. Those that are tall or short know that "cropped" pants can turn out either too short or long, so Aritzia offers this style in regular, tall, and short inseams for your true cropped fit.

Price at time of publish: $148

Size Range: 00-16, tall and short available | Materials: Polyester | Rise: High

Best Jogger

Athleta Brooklyn Ankle Pants

Athleta Brooklyn Ankle Pant


What We Love: There are two zip pockets to hold valuables.

What We Don't Love: The sizing can be inconsistent.

Maybe you're going to work on a casual Friday or traveling for a business trip, but when you want pants that are a little more casual, these joggers from Athleta fit the bill. Made from recycled polyester, the pants are super stretchy and lightweight, yet the tapered leg can be dressed up or down. They are perfect for traveling because they are packable, wrinkle-resistant, and offer UPF 50+, protecting your skin when running around a city. Plus two zip pockets let you store any essentials safely. Simply tuck a white top or bodysuit inside the rib knit waistband for a quick, put-together look.

Price at time of publish: $99

Size Range: 00-26, tall and petite available | Materials: Recycled polyester, spandex | Rise: High

Best Leather

Wilfred The Melina Pant, Black

Aritizia Wilfred The Melina Pant


What We Love: You can wear them to the office and keep them on for post-work dinner and drinks.

What We Don't Love: They run small.

Leather pants are beloved by the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan and while they are great for going out, they can be a fierce variation on black work pants too. With its straight leg, high-rise, and subtle sheen, Aritzia's vegan version is as appropriate in the office as at the bar. Designed like jeans, the pants have five-pocket styling, including wide-set back pockets that give some oomph to your backside.

Need some outfit inspiration? Take a cue from celebrity stylist Solange Franklin. "If you gravitate towards softer, more romantic styles, I recommend pairing your leather pants with something more feminine, like a floral blouse," says Franklin. "If your look is more preppy, leather pants are the perfect edgy complement to an oversized white button-up."

Price at time of publish: $148

Size Range: 00-16, tall and petite available | Materials: Polyurethane; interior: polyester | Rise: High

Best Skinny

J. Crew Skinny Trouser in Italian Ponte, Black

J. Crew Skinny Trouser in Italian Ponte

J. Crew

What We Love: The soft fabric feels just like your favorite leggings.

What We Don't Love: They run small.

Think of these pants like your favorite black leggings or skinny jeans, just a tad more elevated. Just like skinnies, you can pair these trousers with heels, tuck them into knee-high boots, or go off-duty with some combat boots. The Italian ponte material offers just the right amount of structure and softness. They come in regular, petite, and tall sizing.

Price at time of publish: $168

Size Range: 00-16, tall and petite available | Materials: Viscose, polyamide, elastane | Rise: High

Best Paper Bag

GRACE KARIN Cropped Paper Bag Waist Pants, Black

GRACE KARIN Women's Cropped Paper Bag Waist Pants, Black


What We Love: The stretchy material is super comfortable.
What We Don't Love: They run small.

The best part about paper bag pants? They are secretly extremely comfy. In fact, these pants feel like yoga pants with their stretchy material. Reviewers say the design is great for bigger behinds as the loose leg fits your curves and the tie front highlights your waist. Celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Lupita Nyong'o are fans of the pant style and demonstrate how it goes with just about anything, from cropped sweaters to lacy camisoles to plain tees. With more than 30 colors beyond black, you'll be tempted to stock up on a few shades.

Price at time of publish: $33

Size Range: XS-3X | Materials: Polyester, spandex | Rise: High

Best Shaping

Spanx The Perfect Pant, Hi-Rise Flare, Black

Spanx The Perfect Pant, Hi-Rise Flare,


What We Love: You won't need extra shapewear with these slimming flares.

What We Don't Love: They don't have pockets.

You know Spanx for its iconic shapewear, and with its Perfect Pant, you can harness all its shaping power in stylish pant. These might fool you as leggings with their comfy pull-on design and four-way stretch ponte fabric, but the pleat down the middle and flare leg is dressier. The pants smooth your middle with their high rise and hidden stomach shaping. Toss on some high heels or heeled boots and it'll look like you have legs for days.

Price at time of publish: $168

Size Range: XS-3X, tall and petite available | Materials: Rayon, nylon, elastane| Rise: High

What to Keep in Mind


Black pants run the gamut of being skin tight to having an exaggerated wide leg. While choosing a silhouette comes down to your personal preference and style, Michelle has some tips. "For loose pants, I always look for a front pleated trouser. I think the pleats help create a small waist and drop nicely around your curves," says Michelle. "For fitted pants, I like to make sure that it's tight around the thigh or knee down. What I dislike most is something not being here nor there. It should be flowy or fitted, not in-between." Hines thinks the shoe you wear can also help “determine the full silhouette of the look” because the shoe, such as a heel or pointed loafer, can further elongate your legs and enhance the style you choose.


Certain fabrics are better for certain seasons and occasions. Wool is a great choice for the winter when you want to stay warm and cozy, while linen is good for hot months. Faux leather is a bit more edgy and can multitask as a going out pant as well. 

You also may want to look for fabrics that have some stretch, so the pants stay comfortable and retain their shape throughout the day, including jersey and nylon, which are favorites of Mays. Wrinkle-resistant fabrics are also key, and one the stylist recommends to avoid for this reason is “classic cotton twill.” Nothing is worse than standing up from your desk to find your pants covered in unintentional wrinkles.


Unless you don't mind running to the dry cleaners every time your pants get dirty, you want to look for machine washable styles to save you time and money. Thankfully, more brands offer work clothes that can be washed at home. And depending on the label and item, you don't always have to follow the "dry clean only" instructions. But if you want to increase the longevity of your workwear, Mays believes “in hang drying and ironing or steaming instead of throwing clothes in the dryer” even if with it being “a more tedious step.”

Your Questions, Answered

How do I style black work pants?

While black pants can be worn with a variety of tops, Michelle recommends considering the silhouette of the pants when choosing your top. "With front pleat trousers, you have so much freedom. It can be a tucked-in loose top, or something more fitted, and let the pants take the lead on volume," says Michelle. "With fitted pants, I lean into a looser top so that I don't feel the body is overexposed, and really sit into the comfort and silhouette you're pulling off." Kendall Jenner, one of Michelle's clients, is known for sporting black trousers with vests, crop tops, cardigans, blazers, and oversized button-downs.

When it comes to footwear, Michelle, who created a spring shoe edit with DSW, says you can't go wrong with a closed-toe heel for the office though you can also play with contrast. "I love the juxtaposition of a trouser — which is something that's normally quite dressy — with something that's simple," Michelle told InStyle. "We've done it with anything from a white tank to a vintage T-shirt; it could be something that easy." You could even pair your black work pants with sneakers, a look that Michelle is also a fan of.

What shoes pair best with black work pants?

For work, we often automatically reach for a heel, flat, or sandal, but consider a comfortable option for your work attire, especially if you’ll be on your feet all day. “My mind instantly goes to a classic white sneaker,” says Mays, who suggests opting for one that is a bit more elevated than your typical gym sneaker. “This gives a bit of an edge and athleisure to traditional work apparel but is also sensible for all-day wear. A suit with a sneaker gives instant cool.” Another option she recommends is loafers, especially a vintage pair, for “a little personality.” 

Although Hines suggests brogues and derbies for his male clients, these styles “work well as the silhouette of work pants” for women, too, because they tend to have a slim or standard fit, and “stylistically work for regardless of career.”

Why Shop With Us

Emily Cieslak is the Assistant Commerce Editor at InStyle, covering the latest trends and providing styling advice to readers. Before joining Dotdash Meredith in 2020, she worked in all aspects of the fashion industry, including as an assistant to stylists and a fashion buyer. For this piece, she researched the best black work pants based on her previous expertise working with various garments and body types, as well as contacting stylists Dani Michelle, Solange Franklin, Courtney Mays, and Jay Hines for their expertise.

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