Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Pants Experiment, Part 1

I'm the type of person who decides what I'm going to wear the night before and has it all laid out, ready for the next morning. I firmly believe that we're all a little OCD. I'm definitely a morning person but I'm not particularly fond of making certain types of decisions before 7 am. Choosing an outfit is one of those types of decisions. Some people dream about going to school naked; I dream about wearing two different shoes and a pair of mom jeans.

When I worked at the university, I had to dress professionally everyday. I had a closet full of dress pants, suits, button-down shirts (that never quite looked good on me), and low heeled shoes that still gave me some height but didn't make me want to cut off my feet at the end of a long college fair. I dressed for the job that I had and I felt professional all the time. Admissions counselors set the impression for the universities they work for and I set a very good first impression. I found it easier to make decisions about what I would wear each day because there wasn't a lot of variety in my closet. I had a set rotation of dress pants/shirt combos that I ran through most weeks. In the summer, I'd throw in some skirts for a little variety. On dress down Fridays, I'd wear a university polo and less dressy black pants. It was awesome and easy.

Now I think about what I'm going to wear all of the time. My company has a casual dress policy; we can wear jeans and t-shirts and tennis shoes every day if that's what we want to do. I used to joke that I could wear pajamas to work and no one would say anything. There was a time when that was very true. Anyway, I find dressing for work to be challenging on two levels:
  1. I have to come up with an "outfit" even when wearing jeans. Personal style matters when dressing casually at work.
  2. It can be a struggle to feel professional when wearing jeans all the time.
When I began my journey to being the leading lady of my life, one of the areas I focused on was my personal style. I have since defined this style as "classic meets quirky librarian with a side of punk." I have a love of oddly patterned sweaters (pineapples! swans! neon bicyles!), brightly colored tights, skirts and dresses, Converse low tops, and platform heels (preferably wedge heels). What I don't love: pants that are never the right length (which would be all of them), trying on jeans, swimwear, and stiletto heels. I'm always on the lookout for a comfortable yet fashionable pair of work pants. In the last year or so, I've really tried to wear jeans only once per week; I feel more professional and adult when I dress less casually. The problem is that I'm on the short size (5'2) and I am plus size. These two things make pants shopping difficult. Short length is silly, regular needs to be hemmed, and long looks like I'm swimming in pants. Waistbands always do stupid things and can we all discuss pockets? Every size has its challenges. It's taken me 30 years to truly be confident and pleased with the way I look so I have no time for size shaming.

I've been on the work pants hunt for some time now and have found a few pairs that I like (both by the Gap, both not made anymore) but mostly I've been disappointed in my options. You can imagine my excitement when I came across Betabrand and their dress pant yoga pants. Betabrand is a San Francisco based clothing company that designs clothing for comfort and fashion. They make dress pant sweatpants for men so dress pant yoga pants are really not that far fetched. I first heard of Betabrand this past fall on Facebook. I was joking with several of my friends on Facebook about yoga pants and having "dressy" versions of them and what popped up? An ad for these pants. I didn't purchase them at the time because I thought they were expensive for pants but after my recent shopping experiences, I've come to realize that they're really not that expensive after all. Quality dress pants will run you anywhere from $60-$300 depending on where you shop. Yes, I can buy cheaper pants at Target but they're not going to last.

I decided last week that I would buy myself a pair of dress pant yoga pants. Sometimes you have to treat yo self and that's what I did. I ordered a pair of black boot-cut dress pant yoga pants. The pants arrived today. Here is what happened.

I stalked the concierge in my building because I had received an email notification that the pants had been delivered. I'm convinced that he hates me because I always have the notification before he puts the note on my mailbox. I took the pants up to my apartment and had to keep myself from opening the package in the elevator. Many thoughts raced through my head: Would they fit? Would they be too long or too short? Would people know they were really yoga pants? What would my first outfit be? What shoes would I wear? This is what I do with new, shiny things...I obsess.

The pants are black yoga pants. Cut like dress pants. Are they comfortable? Yes. Are they stretchy? Absolutely. Do they look like dress pants? Sort of. They're made of rayon, nylon, and spandex so they look (on me) like tight dress pants. Not tight in an obscene way but tight in a skinny jeans with a flair because they're boot-cut way. They're also about an inch too long for me even in my tallest heels. I can hem them (I usually hem my dress pants). As I write this I have actually forgotten that I'm wearing pants. I definitely don't feel like I do when I wear my regular dress pants or jeans. I feel comfortable.

My dilemma is this: can I pull this look off? I am not one to shy away from fashion; I own 1.5 pairs of skinny jeans so I can be daring. Is my hesitation to wear these to work tomorrow less the pants and more of that old self-doubt about how I look and what people think creeping back into my life? I don't like that this is what I'm thinking. Frankly, it's unacceptable and very un-leading lady of me.

The Pants Experiment, Part 2 - coming at you this weekend!

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