year in review

The Best Thing I Bought This Year Is a Pair of Perfect Black Pants

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Writers

If you’ve read any of our Strategist editor hauls, you’ll know that our writers and editors buy a lot of stuff, and even though we think carefully about each thing that goes into our carts, there are still standouts. To close out the year, we’ve asked our staffers to write about the best thing they bought in the past 12 months. Today, Tembe Denton-Hurst on the perfect black pants she wears on repeat.

This year, I had one wardrobe objective: to find the best version of everything. No more settling for T-shirts that rolled up on the arms and bunched in my armpits or sweaters that were weird in the neck. I would stop buying jeans that looked good on my butt and not my legs, or (worse) the other way around. It was also the year I decided I wanted to wear trousers like the Scandi-style women proliferating my social feeds. I had a few requirements: black, so it goes with everything; full-length but not floor-skimming; and flaring slightly at the hips and going straight to the floor. I already had a few imperfect solutions in my closet, both of which were from H&M. The first pair were slacks-like, and while they fit well in the leg and went straight from my thigh to the ground, they fit awkwardly in the waist. I couldn’t wear a normal T-shirt without it creating bulges where none existed, and thus my only option was an oversize top that hid my middle but also disappeared my shape. The other pair fit ostensibly well, but they didn’t make me feel good. Every time I tried to style them, I felt drab, and if I attempted to pair it with a white shirt, I immediately felt like a cater-waiter. And I was going for sleek and sophisticated, not “Can I top off your drink?”. So the search began.

This might be a simple task if I had hips. Or legs that taper off seamlessly into my calves. But I do not. I have thick thighs, thanks to genetics and the leg-press machine. And, especially with plus-size clothing, pants cling to my thighs before shooting straight to the floor (not cute). After a few months of sleuthing, I came across a pair that I believed to be the ones. They seemed to be everything I wanted. Tapered leg, straight-down fit, a few pleats in the waist. They fit well, and the quality was okay, and so I was happy enough. I wore them once while on vacation in Mexico, and they quickly ripped. I tossed them out as soon as I got home. Then, on a whim, I checked 11 Honoré, the plus-size retailer that stocks brands like Vince, Azeeza, and Ganni. The brand was running a sale to celebrate a merger with Dia & Co. (another plus-size online-shopping destination), so I decided to peruse. I picked out a few things, including a pair of pull-on black trousers from Vince that had subtle front pleats and an adjustable waist (there’s ruching in the back).

Me at the corner store in the pants.

After a few days, they appeared at my doorstep, and I quickly tried them on. I checked them out in the mirror and marveled at the fit. They were everything I’d been looking for. It ticked all the boxes, and what’s more, they were soft and lightweight. The pants are made from a sturdy linen-rayon blend, which makes them comfortable in a range of temperatures. Typically, clothes will lounge in my closet for months before I start incorporating them into my wardrobe, but I started wearing these the same day. And since then, I’ve worn them weekly. After three months of consistent wear, I’m happy to report they go with everything and look sleek and sophisticated like I hoped. I’ve worn the pants with turtlenecks, chunky sweaters, tank tops, and button-downs. Recently, I wore them to the spa, paired with a black mock-neck sweater and bright-blue puffer, and felt like the kind of person who has a standing appointment with my masseuse. A few weeks later, I wore them to a dinner with a midriff-baring crop and a knit bolero. I felt ultra-confident in both.

Editor’s note: These pants are currently sold out in most sizes, but you may be able to find a pair in your size at Vince. The pants are available in all sizes in a stripe pattern.

Me at the spa in said pants.

Another bonus: Because there’s no button and there’s considerable stretch in the waistband, it’s always a comfortable fit. There’s no bunching or pinching or pulling. The elastic waist allows it to lie flat, though one does give up that “snatched” look as a result. I feel like I’m wearing fancy pajamas constantly, but everyone else thinks I’m put-together and stylish. They’re also low-maintenance. I wash them normally amongst my T-shirts and gym leggings, and they come out looking inky black and brand-new. It’s ideal. So ideal that I’m able to move past the hefty price tag of $345. I ended up getting them for around $240 with the sale, but that’s still much more than I’d typically spend on a single pair of pants.

I justify the price with cost per wear. And given that I’ve worn these pants at least ten times since purchasing, that’s about $10 a day — much more cost-effective than the $30 pair I got from ASOS and wore only once.

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The Best Thing I Bought This Year Is a Pair of Black Pants