Oh Great, 'Work Pants' Are Back — But Thankfully, It's Not What You Think

Your old office friend got a cool makeover.

Oh Great, “Work Pants” Are Back — But Thankfully, It’s Not What You Think
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

For many of us, going to work at an actual office — filled with cubicles, colleagues, and an emergency shoe collection under our desk — feels like a distant memory. Our year has been so packed with leggings-on-the-bottom Zoom calls, we can barely remember what it was like to frantically pull together full outfits each morning. So, it goes without saying that our 'work pants,' aka all those 'professional' slacks and trousers, have fallen out of our go-to rotation, migrating to the back of our closet and becoming easy to forget.

However, these babies are far from having an early retirement — at least if models, actresses, and influencers have any say. They've basically become the new jeans in the fashion world, versatile enough to be worn with everything from sweatshirts to cutout tops.

Of course, you don't just have to take our word for it. There are plenty of great outfits out there to show you that work pants are back in a new and improved way — and totally ready to clock in whenever you'd like.

Reach For a Cutout Top

Ensure your bottoms are far from stuffy or traditional by spicing them up with a top that features one 2021's biggest trends: Holes.

Go Monochromatic

When in doubt, pair your basic black bottoms with a baggy black sweater, a bomber jacket, and sneakers. It's an easy combination, but it comes across as sleek and streamlined.

Treat Slacks Like Sweats

As in, style them with your favorite sweatshirt. It might feel nice to give those joggers a break.

Keep Things Loose

Perhaps you went stiff and structure at your 9 to 5, but an updated way to wear slacks is to keep your whole outfit baggy. Then, pull the model-loved Miss Congeniality trick and complete the look with chunky black shoes.

Test Out the Shest

Or, layer a vest over a simple shirt. This soft staple is having a moment, and the two preppy rends go together as smoothly as peanut butter and jelly.

Remember Those Cardigans

Cardigans aren't as effortless as those WFH-friendly crewnecks and hoodies, so maybe they've been MIA in your wardrobe as well. It's beyond time to break one out and style it like a shirt, adding a feminine touch or a splash of color to your look.

Have Fun With Footwear

To be honest, these pants pair well with almost any type of shoe, so if your feet can't handle heels, go with sneakers or lug-soled boots, which will add a rugged, ready-for-anything vibe.

Balance Out the Basics

Still, if you're wearing your trousers with a basics tank top or tee and don't want to seem too dressed down, you can always amp up your look with strappy heels.

Mix Materials

The good news is, since your work pants are likely neutral and somewhat simple, you can have fun with what's on top. Take things up a notch and throw on some leather to create a look that's far from predictable.

Add One (or Two) Prints

And, don't shy away from color, either. We're giving those old trousers a full, fashion-forward makeover, so dare yourself to pull an Emily in Paris and combine pieces you never thought would work together. You might be surprised.

Don't Overthink It

At the end of the day, you want to wear your slacks in a way that's most comfortable for you, while also sticking with your personal aesthetic. Sometimes, that simply means throwing on your favorite sweater and flats. It's the most classic pairing, and one that looks great on everyone.

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