By my seventh month of pregnancy, I really missed pants. No trousers I owned would button over my growing belly, and maternity-specific jeans had a tendency to slide down my rear. But I mostly missed pants because I suspected it would be a long time before I could wear any of the ones in my closet again — and I was right. Even at two months postpartum, I still wouldn’t go near former standbys like my high-waisted but unforgiving Kamm pants or my lovingly broken-in vintage denim. And leggings, fancy or not, were never my vibe.
In acknowledging my mom-bod, though, I did not want to shame it by giving up on pants entirely. I just needed to find a new silhouette that made me look as capable as my new-mother self had already become, while still being utilitarian enough for the physicality of motherhood and its attendant sore parts (mommy thumb and other fourth trimester maladies are uncomfortable enough without wearing jeans that are supposed to give you a wedgie). Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far, because it turns out my ideal post-maternity pants were already in my closet — I just didn’t realize it when I bought them more than a year ago.
Last winter, pre-pregnancy, I surprised myself by buying a pair of white carpenter pants from Everlane. I say surprised because, until then, Everlane was a place where I returned every piece of clothing I’ve ever attempted to own. Its fits, I find, are all over the place — particularly the extremely narrow shoes, awkwardly boxy blouses, and work pants that don’t flatter even the brand’s models. But somehow, the carpenter pants were different. On my pre-pregnant body, the rise was not so high that I couldn’t sit down. The leg was straight, but the hips accommodating and the cotton material just stiff enough. The length was perfect on my five-foot-five frame (those on the taller side may find them a bit too cropped — the inseam is 26.5 inches — but for short- to medium-height ladies, the abbreviated hem lends a tailored feel).
Fast-forward to present day, when, while fantasizing about my ideal new-mom pants — or ones that look presentable without being precious, are easy to wash and wear, and pair well with other pieces in my design-editor wardrobe — I realized the carpenter pants checked all the boxes. White being the not-so-baby-friendly color that it is, though, I went and bought another pair in golden brown (and a size up). On my post-maternity body, the non-stretch cotton canvas holds me in without cutting off my circulation and keeps its shape through several wears. Their cropped length works with just about any shoe, with no hemming required. And although I wouldn’t say they completely camouflage the wider, flatter mom butt I now realize is a thing, they definitely don’t enhance it.
Given my clothing budget as a new mom, reupping on Everlane’s carpenter pants made sense. At $68, they’re reasonably priced enough to buy in multiple colors. The golden brown is really versatile, and now I’ve got my eye on the recently introduced “rosin,” a spruce green that shows the pant’s pocket and hammer-loop detailing. But in the year and a half since I bought my first pair, I’ve noticed lots of other brands return to the style. There are now handmade Brooklyn-fashion versions and vintage Dickies recut to fit the female body (which I also own and love). Urban Outfitters sells them by the dozen, including several classic Carhartt pairs. Other styles include vintage Stan Ray (roomy, worn-in), Big Bud Press (straightforward design, available in nearly every color of the rainbow), and Kamm’s aspirational but absurdly expensive $395 pair. Everlane’s, though, are the least expensive of that bunch — which is another reason I would say that, right now, they’re the perfect fit.
More Strategist Mom-Approved Pants
If you are a leggings person, Strategist contributing editor Jessica Sylvester swears by Lululemon’s Align “pants,” which she wore during and after her pregnancy. “Somehow they withstood constant wear all the way up until my belly was ready to burst, and kept with me through the postnatal deflation process. My son is now two years old and my proportions have more or less returned to normal, but the fabric has snapped back, too; it continues to conform to my shape.”
Strategist writer Lauren Ro tried no less than five pairs of post-maternity jeans before settling on these. She said they were the first pair of (non-stretch) jeans that actually flattered her figure, making them worth every penny. “The rise was not too high and the button fly actually pulled everything together in the midsection (something I emphatically did not find with the other pairs). The straight leg was fitted and magically slimmed my legs, and my butt got an instant boost (good-bye, mom-jean diaper butt).”
Neither leggings nor jeans (nor carpenter pants), these slouchy ones from Boob Design came recommended by Adriane Stare, the owner of maternity boutique The Wild (once known as Wild Was Mama), for our list of the best maternity clothes. “The soft waistband is comfy during and (way) after pregnancy, and the pleating in front creates a subtle harem effect for those who like their pants a bit looser and relaxed.” [Editor’s note: Alex and Alexa lists prices in British pounds, so the price shown is an approximate conversion in U.S. dollars.]
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