this thing's incredible

I Thought I Was Pants-Allergic Until I Tried This Stretchy Pair From Universal Standard

The waistband lay flat, it had pockets, and I got a mimosa. Photo: Courtesy of Universal Standard

I bought a pair of pants last week. For another person, this is perhaps not a noteworthy experience, but for me, a woman who fluctuates between a size 12 and a 16, this was nothing short of a miracle.

The process of shopping for pants usually looks something like this for me:

1. Walk into the store.
2. Find the stack of pants I want to try on.
3. Locate the largest size, at the bottom of the pile, displacing all the other carefully folded pairs of pants.
4. Realize they won’t fit anyway.
5. Leave and contemplate a life that involves never wearing pants.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to walk into Universal Standard’s Soho store two weeks ago and almost immediately find a pair of pants that I became enamored of. I don’t know how much you know about Universal Standard (I knew very little before I made this trip), but it’s something of a standard-bearer for inclusive sizing in women’s clothing. In-store, their sizes ranged from 10 to 28; online, they sell everything in sizes 00 to 40. Since 68 percent of U.S. women fall into the plus category, meaning they wear at least a size 14, this seems like a no-brainer, but at many “size-inclusive” stores you still can’t find anything larger than a size 14.

Anyway, the pants. I walked over to the rack and admired them: the pleasing olive color, the stretchy ponte knit fabric (a mix of nylon, rayon, and elastane), the elastic waist and matte-black ankle zippers. I picked out a large before studying the labels closely; a large at Universal Standard is a 22–24. I put it down and grabbed a small. (Shopping here may be the only time in my adult life I ever wear something labeled “small.”)

When I tried them on, I liked them so much I (yes) tweeted about them. The waistband lay flat around my hips. The legs were slim but still breathable. The cuffs tapered so nicely around my ankle. I could already see myself wearing them with a nice top to a meeting, or just on a walk to the bagel place down the street on a Sunday. The experience was so good that I didn’t mind that I left the store only with a new tank top and not the pants I’d tried on (I wondered if they could really be worth the $80 investment). A week later, I caved and bought the pants online, and now I have a pair of pants that fit my pants-allergic body like a dream.

Universal Standard Moro Pocket Ponte Pants

More Strat-approved size-inclusive pants

Universal Standard Slim Cut Seine Jeans

Writer Maggie Fremont first told us about the Universal Standard jeans: “When I first put these jeans on, I legitimately giggled. I was excited. These jeans had the exact balance of structure and comfort I wanted. My stomach and butt have never felt so secure — there’s no jiggling here — and yet they have just enough stretch (2 percent spandex) to remain tight over my hips and calves, with only the tiniest bit of looseness at the ankles (a godsend for the thick-calved girl addicted to skinny jeans).”

Wit & Wisdom Absolution Stretch Skinny Jeans

Plus-size blogger Emily Bastedo had no jeans she liked until she found Wit & Wisdom. “Not only are they affordable, but also some of the most flattering jeans I’ve worn. With the stretch fabric, they are comfortable all day but never saggy.” She likes that they’re also lacking in any overt stretch paneling. “I am so grateful Wit & Wisdom has ‘hidden’ this feature. I have multiple pairs in all different washes and they still look brand-new.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

I Thought I Was Pants-Allergic Until I Tried This Pair