body image · Crossfit · fitness · running

The case against pants

Nat visited me with bake goods recently after I had surgery. (I’m good, I’m recovering, everything is fine, it wasn’t for my knee, and I’ll be back out there on my bike soon.)

It was 8 degrees Celsius and rainy. In June! Brrrrr. This is a sign we’re really good friends, she said. Not the baked goods necessarily. (Nat is a wonderful baker who readily shares her talents with the world. Blueberry lavender scones, mmmm.) Rather her clothing.

“I put on pants to bring these over,” she announced.

That’s serious friendship.


Nat and I share a lot of attitudes about the world. But the one attitude of hers that amuses me the most is her hatred
of pants. I share it. But she ramps up the vitriol times 10. I hate pants but Nat really hates pants.

Not everyone gets it. So I thought I’d explain why I, at least, hate pants.

Actually, some people must get it given all the pants hating memes these days. These images all come from the nopantsbrigade tumblr. But I’ll explain away anyway. It’s what professors do best.

First, they’re uncomfortable. They fit at exactly the one part of my body that changes size with meals etc. They are either too tight or too loose. Because I’m a cyclist they either fit my waist or my legs. And if they’re even vaguely skinny jeans like, they’re tight on my calves. I’ve written about this here and so has Caitlin at Fit and Feminist.


Second, I gain or lose three pounds and I need to change sizes of pants. I’ve got dresses I’ve worn through weight gain and loss of twenty pounds, no problem, but pants? They can be too small in the morning and too big at night. I own pants in at least three different sizes. That’s pretty much required.


Third, they’re never the right length. Women’s pants, unlike men’s, generally don’t come in lengths. If you’re short legged like me that means you pay $10 extra per pair of pants to hem then, wear heels, or smile sweetly at your mother and ask if there’s any computer help she needs.

Elizabeth at Hello Giggles on has even more reasons, a full ten reasons she hates pants.


What’s the alternative?

Well, it depends on how strong your no pants hatred runs and how famous you are and how good your butt looks in just undies and whether you care about that. If you’re Lady Gaga maybe you just wear the whole outfit you would have worn minus the pants..

Me, I have to wear more than undies. This is Canada and we’re frugal and environmentally minded and our house is often cold in the winter. Also, teenagers and their friends, lots of them.

I don’t mind yoga pants, leggings, sweat pants, pajama bottoms. I own a pink rabbit onesie, thanks teenagers, and a Darth Vader onesie, thanks Rob.

I do mind jeans and dress pants. I mind pants the most when they involve a fly and zipper and a belt and fussy pant appropriate underwear.

If I have to wear pants I’m a big fan of yoga jeans and I recently broke down and bought a pair of yoga dress pants.

I also love dresses and skirts. This year I was happy to discover fleece lined tights which pretty much carried me through winter except for the boots issue which is ongoing.


15 thoughts on “The case against pants

  1. Thank you for the morning laugh! I agree with all your reasons why pants are annoying. They are also the hardest piece of clothing to sew and get the fit right. There are so many ways people curve from the waist to the ankle.

    I do love all the stretchy fabrics now available in pants, it helps with the comfort and fit.

    I enjoyed our visit, especially because you laugh at my jokes 🙂

  2. I love wearing jeans, but yes, when I get home I usually change into yoga pants or something else loose and stretchy (a nightie, PJs etc.). But I’ve just recently made the decision to start wearing dresses at work when I move into the Dean’s office. I’ve been getting more and more casual all the time at work, but I think that in my new position I want to respect the role by dressing a little more professionally. I haven’t shopping for dresses in a while — seeking recommendations for where to find dresses that can make it in a professional working environment.

    One more thing: I have always loved dresses but find the footwear issue to be a major challenge. One of the reasons I dress casually at work these days is so I can wear casual shoes that have foot support in them. Sneakers of various kinds are my footwear of choice — not so good with dresses. Also, I’m vegan and trying my best to opt for vegan footwear. Suggestions for brands — preferable quality vegan products that are also comfortable and stylish — most welcome.

  3. I also hate pants. The gap has the perfect trouser pant. It is a nice, wide legged pant. That can be machine washed.

    I don’t even try pants anywhere else. I’m just happy to have found one brand that works. Sometimes life requires black dress pants.

    As an aside, I am wearing a dress today. I love summer.

  4. This strikes me as so funny, because when I was growing up (a long time ago!) no girl/woman wore pants. When customs changed I was so happy to find comfort in all sorts of pants and now wear pants more than anything else–all sorts of them. Tracy hit it when she mentioned the shoe problem with dresses. It works in the summer with sandals, but other seasons not so great. I’m short too, and find ‘petite’ works well because the size range is wide. Recently I tried to find some dresses but all of them looked awful on me–I guess my perspective has changed! Thanks for the post–and really happy that all is well post-op. Thinking of you.

    1. Right! My mother wasn’t allowed to wear pants. She helped deliver milk in the morning but kept jeans in the milk truck to change into.

  5. I love pants. This sort of sounds like a “women’s fashion/clothing” problem to me. I couldn’t care less about fashion, so I just enjoy my dumpy pants. *Cargo* pants, no less. I demand the pockets that women are usually *denied*.

    Merrell makes some vegan-friendly slides and pretty flip-flop-type sandals that could work with dresses. They have some other walkable, casual-dress-possible options, too, but not vegan.

      1. I found a company that makes dresses to order, and all of their designs have pockets. I also started sewing again… purely in order to have as many pockets as I want. I now own one pair of jeans (that kinda fit), and eleven dresses. (Also about nine pairs of technical softshell pants, but those are stretchy)

        When I show people the dresses, every single woman goes “OMG POCKETS!!!? Show me this wonder!” and every guy says “So? Pockets are cool I guess.” Which just goes to show how deep the pocket inequality in Western clothing goes.

  6. I love wearing pants and still resent the fact that I wasn’t allowed to wear them to school as a child in the sixties. There was great rejoicing in the seventies when our high school finally dropped the idiotic and detailed dress code (the dean sent one of my friends home to change because of a skirt 3 1/2 inches above her knees), especially from the female students who wanted to wear pants!

    I’ve found reasonably priced and comfortable relaxed fit jeans at LL Bean. The waistband sits where it’s supposed to and the jeans are well proportioned. I don’t have any trouble with changes in fit during the day. The same goes for some of Bean’s corduroys and twill pants. They can’t be beat for modesty and comfort. And I like wearing a nice belt with them. What’s the deal with “fussy, pant-appropriate underwear?” (I suppose French cut underwear is best.)

    But I also like to wear skirts and dresses for teaching, attending conferences, and other special occasions. Too bad that it’s so hard to find the styles I prefer–tea length, sleeves, reasonable necklines. US companies offer proportions for the pear-shaped figures, while their UK equivalents seem to go for a rather cylindrical shape (as I remember from frustrating shopping excursions as a traveling grad student). A dress that fits on top billows on the bottom; a skirt that fits the waist is too tight on the hips. And now some idiot designers have taken it upon themselves to declare that sleeves are “frumpy.” (Drooling incompetent morons, who conflate modesty with frumpiness.)

    So it seems no matter what the garment (unless one is wealthy enough to have it custom made), there are going to be problems with fit and comfort for some people!

  7. YES. My thoughts exactly. I tried on a pair of jeans I have the other day…. they’re the Leigh jeans from Topshop which according to everyone else they are very stretchy and comfortable. But NO. I perhaps tried to move in them for about 2 seconds before I whipped them off. Luckily as a dancer it’s usually fine to appear everywhere in leggings….. your comment about the yoga dress pants made me laugh!

  8. I’ve given up on jeans recently. I have two pair that are old and will probably fall completely apart soon. I refuse to compromise on comfort so I haven’t been able to replace them. I always put them on, feel them trying to choke my thighs to death while still gapping at the waist and think “I’ll just wear leggings.” I never take advantage of casual Friday at work because my dress pants are so much more comfortable. Who decided jeans would never come in wide(r) leg styles? I hate those people.

  9. I wear jeans all the time. Pretty much daily. It’s notable if I wear slacks instead, and the only time I wear a dress is for choir concerts a couple times a year. Yes, skirts and dresses can be more forgiving with small changes in body size, but I’m not wearing them unless you make me. Maybe it’s because I tend to wear relaxed styles of jeans that have some give built in, but I don’t find them as irritating as you seem to.

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