January 24, 2022
I know I’m getting old when I start reminiscing about things you used to be able to BUY… but who else among us can remember going into a department store (pretty much any of them!) and buying a pair of wool pants, fully lined? Possibly with the blazer and skirt to match?
Those were the days….
I thought that today I would share with you lovely wool pants that I found, but nearly everything that I saw broke 1 of my 2 general rules for garments on The Vivienne Files; lots of them were over $1,000 US, or they only came in single-digit sizes.
I wish I had kept some of my pants from 40 years ago…
Still, we have to get dressed even now, and unless we make our own pants, we’re going to have to work with what’s available!
I wear corduroy in cold weather, or I wear my cotton chinos with long underwear… Ponte knit is lovely most of the time, but I find that it’s kind of cold if the temperatures get really low…
I did find these – at Selfridge’s. You might be able to get them directly from Maje, too.
And I was able to scare up one other pair of really lovely tweed pants – I’m terribly tempted by these:
Today’s outfits pay tribute to the power of a pretty colored sweater, and a scarf or a great necklace. If you’re wearing long underwear under your clothes, you’ve done enough work getting dressed!
Another thing that I wanted to remind everyone (including myself!):
If you’re in the market for socks, scarves or other accessories to wear with a particular sweater, find some embroidery thread in the same color as your sweater, tuck it into a wee zip-lock bag (like those in which spare buttons are sent!) and keep it with you. Maybe your change compartment of your purse?
This way, when you see a wall of socks in 357 colors (I dream…), you will be able to quickly find the ones you want. Never underestimate the power of an accent sock…
This next outfit is certainly simple enough, but the olive necklace and the lemon yellow socks really stand out:
I love the floral earrings with the floral scarf – Valentine’s Day is coming…
Okay, maybe you aren’t the cashmere turtleneck type – you can still find a gorgeous cotton sweater in a beautiful color…
I KNOW that someone is still selling lovely wool pants… Talbots? Pendleton? Do you know where they are?
p.s. Eight years ago, I tackled what one might wear with a subtle “difficult” scarf, in sepia and light grey. It still stands up to inspection!
This feels like the work trouser post to me. It actually reminded me of a series you did a while back, where you went through the process and examples of finding your version of items in popular must-have lists.
For me, the caveat to this WTW item would be: warm but casual, with either an uncluttered waist (the green trousers) or belt loops with a big button (the one with the green cable knit).
Everything else looks office ready, especially with the clean lines of their frankly amazing tops.
Heidi from Germany says
These solutions are all just so beautiful. Every one of them! What a pitty that longsleved sweaters (turtlenecks are even worse) and scarfs of all kind just make me sweat just by looking at them. (Although I’ve been post-menopausal for quite some time… ). Earrings I have not worn since wearing a mask. Ever since I almost ripped my earlobe off. So sad. I will have to concentrate on T-Shirts and matching socks :-). I might go looking for an easier on- and off cardigan, hairstyle-protecting…. Suggestions? Thank you for only posting clothing for all sizes. I really do appreciate that, being rather small und plump ( :-) that’s what the translator says….).
Beth T says
However, it is important to check inside leg lengths of trousers because they might not be long enough for standard legs.
The grey tweed trousers by Me+Em have an inside leg of 25 inches. Like Heidi, I’m small with an inside leg of 26.5 inches However, these trousers would be short on me. Someone with average legs would find these crawling up their calves. I checked out the rest of the range, thinking that this might be a petite range only. The inside leg lengths of the trousers varied from 25 to 31! This is where having an image of a model wearing them would be useful.
Though it does annoy me immensely that the leg lengths of some petite ranges are now 28/29 inches! I have yet to meet someone 5ft 1inch with legs that long. ?
I have always admired your attention to details with the accessories that you select, such as repeating a visual or a textural theme , as well as a colorful one ! Kudos for this !
Quality in construction and what is provided for the dollar has “ gone with the wind” it seems . You would think that since there is a market for high ticket priced items, that there would also be one that catered to the less expensive, but still quality , garments for the mass markets. Alas , costs have risen for everything and profit is still the bottom line , including in the garment industry . However, I would think that sheer volume of sales would compensate for that so that both a satisfied customer and a profit margin would be feasible within a given purchase .
One would think that with all of the criticism of “fast fashion,” someone would step in and start doing really lovely garments in quality fabrics. But NOOOOOO….
Maybe someone will read this and hear us all asking for nice wool pants…
Megan M says
You are right! I’m 5′ 3″ and get a 28″ inseam for pants or jeans I wear with flats or sneakers. I just got a pair of wool-blend trousers that are cuffed and hemmed at 29″ to wear with low-ish heels. I’ve been eyeing “ankle pants” for standard height women and wondering if I should buy those to be my full-length pants.
I loved wearing my lined, wool, dress pants for years. Thanks for highlighting them today. I didn’t realize they were so hard to find now. That makes me sad and frustrated. It tells me that if I find a pair of navy or charcoal, I should scoop them up.
Although we’ve all been dressing so casually during covid, a nice pair of wool lined pants would instantly dress up an outfit and still be very comfortable and relaxed. I’m on the hunt!
Beth T says
Following Rex’s comment, I would certainly wear the two pink and the blue outfits to the office.
However, the principle of neutral bottoms (skirts or trousers), an accent top/jumper or sweatshirt/hoodie plus matching socks, could be used for all situations just be altering the style or material of the tops and bottoms. For example, one of my gym outfits comprises of turquoise hoodie and grey trackies with turquoise or grey socks (I like coordinating socks) and multi coloured trainers.
So this basic principle of neutral bottoms and accent tops in a variety of materials and textures serves me very well for all sorts of occasions.
Here you are using an Accent Four instead of the French Five. If these outfits were used for office wear, then your bag would probably be a neutral colour. Casual or dressy occasions lend themselves to accent bags and shoes.
The jewellery is just perfect, particularly the Ross-Simons pendant and the Met Store pearl and blue enamel earrings are so pretty (pity that they are out of stock online).
The look back is a lesson in the principle of creating outfits around a neutral scarf. This has given me ideas.
Sara Tartala says
My husband is a huge believer in wool pants! He looked for them for me for Christmas, and he has told me several times how disappointed he is in the women’s fashion industry that they are SO hard to find. He finally found me a pair at Brooks Brothers. I wore them on a recent trip to Long Island and they wore like a dream. They kept me warm in single digit temperatures, but were also very comfortable inside. I hope the fashion industry wakes up, and starts making them again soon!
Angela Stewart says
beautiful tailored clothes made of wonderful fabrics do not seem to exist anywhere at any price…
I’m lucky I still fit most of the jackets and waistcoats that I bought in the 90’s -few of them were “high fashion” and all the merino sweaters in every colour of the rainbow are still classic and wear well – No pilling whatsoever ( todays merino is usually adulterated even if its described as 100% – It pills!)
Some of the jackets had wide shoulders and the trousers were wide through the thighs – fortunately I discovered a genius Thai seamstress and had them all taken in to a classic shape.
When I want trousers now I buy chunky cords in a classic cut – they can look good with a tailored jacket and not too dressed up.
I live in New Zealand and most homes do not have central heating in the manner of North America or Europe so we like to wear warmer clothes and thin merino sweaters for warmth without weight and bulk.
My daughter is 50 – I have some of the scarves I wore when she was 10 or so still folded in the closet – I often wear them even today. Over the years I have collected many scarves and they often make the difference to a “look” and I enjoy remembering where I’ve worn them and where they came from.
People think I must spend a fortune but it isn’t necessary. Buy what you love and look after it and keep adding pieces and then you can have a great collection of wearable clothes and pick and choose depending on the season and the mood.
Black wool, fully lined pants/trousers/slacks were my NYC work wardrobe staple all winter long. I also long for a beautiful navy pinstriped wool suit I owned. However, you are not old. My 33 year old daughter was just lamenting about how the reviews for a certain expensive brand of leggings were complaining that the quality isn’t what it once was. She said “well years ago women weren’t wearing them everyday like pants, so of course they won’t last as long if you’re washing them 5-6 times a week.” She said she never wore leggings to class in college or when she was “in town.” She had black wool pants from Banana Republic.
Well now I am really regretting putting my black and white tweed slacks in the donate bag, even though they are definitely out of style, don’t fit right and the zipper is broken. I have yet to find a good replacement.
I love these simple but colorful outfits, and I agree with the above comment that you are amazing at putting together those perfect little details. Some of those scarves are just yummy!
Pendleton, lined wool pants starting at $67
And that’s just one of several beautiful wool pants there.
I have yet to retire my Pendleton wool trousers from 20 years ago. They’re such a classic timepiece.
Pendleton! Yes. They’re nicely basic and can be dressed up or down. On the pants, the color selection may be a bit limited. You’ll also find some delicious plaid (classic!) wool shirts and car coats one could build a chic little capsule from. I absolutely love Pendleton.
Ralph Lauren has half a dozen wool pants for women on the website. Whether they are the price point or size range you need, idk, but they are on sale.
A few years ago, I found a pair of wool lined pant at Brooks Brothers on sale.
Sandy b says
These are great pants. Although I see that ankle length seems to be the style for some of them. As I too am small und plump, or as I call it, stumpy, I could just order the regular length instead of petite, if the rise worked for me. I used to have a pair of grey wool trousers back in the 80s. They were the most useful pants ever. Too dressy for these days. Pity.
Jackie Katz says
I love the olive Vionic loafers. I find Vionic slippers and shoes alleviate my plantar fasciitis pain. I have been searching for a pair of streamline neutral loafers with good arch support but had not noticed this pair. It a bonus that the loafers are olive – my new neutral.
Do they sell those loafers in mens also? My bf is on his feet all day with his plantar fasciitis and trying to find him shoes is next to impossible
Nordstrom has them:
I was recently diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and I find Skechers great for my feet. They have lots of options for men and women, and even have speciality work shoes.
Cherry Robinson says
I was going to suggest Lafayette148, or MMLaFleur, but a quick check to each shows you are right, wool has all but disappeared. I have a couple of pairs of Lafayette pants left from when I was working, I will take good care of them now!
I hadn’t noticed the disappearance, because I sew, and pick up menswear suiting fabrics when I visit NY. As usual the men get a better deal……
NATALIE K says
When I was young and lived in Germany I owned the most lovely lined wool pants in black with little bits of red, blue, and yellow dots of color all about. Of course they were lined!! I remember it being so cold one December in the Alps that I had to wear long johns under these and my top. I also had on a long tee and a heavy beautiful wool sweater!! Of course, wool socks and snow boots!! Beautiful clothing and memories!!!!
NATALIE K says
Of course I had a down filled jacket, cashmere scarf and leather gloves on as well!!
Ha! Glad to hear I’m not the only one that bemoans the scarcity of lined garments these days! There are some lovely & unusual color combinations in this post that are inspiring me this morning.
I’ve kept my wool trousers for many years. My aunt taught me to line my folded garments with tissue paper and lavender to keep the moths away. It’s help keep my wool and cashmere piece intact.
As for looking for lined garments, has anyone tried asking around for a slip? They seem to be nonexistent as well
The Vermont Country Store still carries slips; they seem to specialize in finding the things we remember from years ago and can’t find now.
Don’t browse their candy selection unless you want a trip down memory lane, and a mailbox full of sugar!
Love the idea of taking embroidery thread when shopping for socks!
Outstanding job of finding beautiful loafers and the prettiest accessory socks. (You had me at lemon yellow!)
And, if you have to travel during these iffy times, nice slip ons and SOCKS are essential for security checkpoints. Who wants to go barefoot across filthy floors?
House of Foxy has the Marlene trouser in wool & I think was lined. It is a small company so limited quantities & smaller range of sizes, but seems to be nicer than some big US stores for same price.
Teresa Landers says
Brooks Brothers? Has wool slacks often lined for reasonable prices. Colors are business basic and quality is reliable. My lawyer friends tell me that many judges still expect attorneys to appear in formal business dress so they have to shop somewhere. Brooks has petites but doesn’t really do “vanity sizing” so their 12 maybe smaller than people are accustomed to. And they don’t do “plus”.
PS Love your blog
Thanks! And I have to second the statement that Brooks Brothers does NOT do vanity sizing; I normally wear a 10 or 12; at Brooks Brothers? A 16. Biggest size they carry. Lovely clothes, but be warned…
Linda Kennedy says
I purchased a pair of wide leg lined wool trousers from Banana Republic.
And ditto for warm, comfy 100% wool sweaters that aren’t cashmere. (I don’t wear cashmere for desertification-of-Mongolia reasons.) All of my lovely wool sweaters are at least a decade old, some mended and darned. These days mid-priced sweaters are usually acrylic-cotton-polyester with maybe a smidgeon of wool. Not as warm and with a tendency to pill. So what to do?
Sarah W says
Have you looked at woolovers.com? Lots of options in different wools and lovely colours, reasonable prices and they appear to ship to many countries. From a fellow acrylic hater!
Strips of paint chips also work well to help match colors. They’re free and can also show you what tone variations will work.
So true – and easy to get, and to carry around with you! Thanks for this Danielle!
Totally off-topic: suddenly in need of new WINTER boots…NOT fashion boots. I remember Janice raving about a particular boot but can’t find it as ‘boot’ references are so frequent!
Sally in St Paul says
Linda, hopefully Janice will chime in, but I will note that Sorels are my go-to winter boot, but I also have Lands End boots that are surprisingly good, especially for the price.
I have had really good luck with BOGS, but when they finally wore out, I just got a pair from L.L.Bean; I intend to have them for the rest of my life!
I wore Bogs trekking over Europe in the winter and found them perfect. That was 5 years ago and they are still going strong!
Blondo, Bogs, Sorel, Merrill, Columbia all carry waterproof winter boots. I’ve owned each of these brands over the years and they are warm, waterproof, comfortable, and long-wearing.
A poster mentioned slips….I still have a drawer full in various lengths and I will not toss….there are a few females on TV (weather channel, e.g.) who should wear slips so their tight dresses fit better….I’ve often thought of contacting the channel and making the suggestion, but I’m showing my age! Yep, I’ve seen slips in the National catalog and maybe Vermont Country Store??? I also have my lined wool slacks which, unfortunately, I’ve outgrown…but so often the width of the trouser changes or they have pleats or no pleats. I used to purchase from Talbots and Lands End…such nice pants, esp. loved wool garbardine! Janice – your wardrobes are always yummy!
Sally in St Paul says
Love the dark, dusty pink with black in the first outfit. I appreciate Beth T’s observation that the color formula shown here can be applied to outfits across a range of dressiness/refinement, including workout wear. I definitely like the trouser + socks + loafer/Oxford combination, but I am very particular about the socks being tall and not too thick. Many of the ones shown here would not make the cut for me because they are too short…I hate it when there is that flash of skin between the hem and sock when sitting down! I also find that the thinner trouser socks just look better on my robust ankles ;) If the bright sock that matches the top and contrasts with the pants/shoes is too much, a patterned sock can be a great alternative.
As for lined wool pants, when I started my first job after college in the late 90s, my wardrobe was 80%+ from the thrift store, and I had several pairs of lined wool pants of outstanding quality that I wore regularly. In many ways, they were great. But I can’t say that I would trade today’s more comfortable stretchy pants for the stiff lined pants of yesteryear. I do NOT miss how a 3-pound weight fluctuation based on the time of month could turn a pair of perfectly fitting lined pants into ones that were uncomfortably tight, for example, and those clothes without any stretch to them did not have the give that I want for even routine working-in-an-office movement. (And if that was true when I was 22 and a single digit size, it’s 100x as true for my middle-aged plus size self!) Also personally I think wool is scratchy enough to be avoided even when the clothing is lined, and my sensitivity to it seems to have gotten worse over time.
As for the warmth of various pants, I just don’t expect any pair of pants to be warm enough on their own for seriously cold weather (speaking as a Minnesota resident who has spent entire winters with a 45 minute daily commute entirely by foot each way…though thankfully it was only uphill one direction). If it’s truly cold and I’ll be going outside, I’m in the warmest leggings I can find (and there are seriously warm leggings these days) with a skirt/dress and tall boots.
May I ask your recommendations for leggings? Here in Chicago, we occasionally face the same cold…
Sally in St Paul says
Lori, I’m plus size, so my options are more limited, but I think fleece-lined leggings of many brands are really great. I even have some inexpensive ones from Target that get the job done!
I love these outfits- 99% of the time I am in some type of pants and a top plus scarf. When it’s not possible to find lined pants, tights or thin long underwear add a little extra warmth. I grew up in the Yukon and spent decades in northern BC and that’s an option if the wool pants aren’t lined & itch or the cotton jeans/polyester blends are too cold. By Tights I mean not what we call pantyhose here in Canada but those thicker opaque things that are like thin leggings with feet.
Chadwick’s has lined wool-blend pants. They also usually have lots of brown clothing, which I know you sometimes have a hard time finding. https://www.chadwicks.com/itemdy00.aspx?T1=HD155+CMLH+22W&srccode=NXCHC6&utm_source=google&utm_medium=comparison&utm_campaign=datafeed&source=pla&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1LmAw-fK9QIVCQiICR3r0w-oEAQYASABEgJk5PD_BwE
No mention of the cost (literally, health wise and to the environment) of dry cleaning. I won’t wear anything that can’t be washed by hand or in the machine. Have had many pairs of lined wool pants and honestly I detested them. Three layers of material at my crotch was just too much (panties, lining and the wool. The lining was not a natural fibre so no air circulation) also staining and general funkiness requiring frequent trips to the dry cleaner. As someone commented above there is no stretch and the slightest bit of bloat is uncomfortable. I have found washable wool blend pants though they are unlined but not itchy. My parkas, hats, mitts etc are all washable. The very, very few items in the house that require yearly dry cleaning, son’s wool pea coat and husband’s (seldom worn) suits we pay top dollar to send to an ‘ecologically friendly’ dry cleaner. Everything is ‘de bagged’ and hung in the garage for 24 hours before allowed in the house. All silk, cashmere, linen etc is laundered by hand.
I live a far more active life then my mother (who adored her wool ‘slacks’ to the point of having them relined!) I require some stretch, comfort, ease of care and practicality in my day to day. Our lives and beliefs have changed over the years!
That fact that lined wool pants are elusive should be a clue as to why certain items from the past should remain there no matter how fondly remembered.
The solution to this is sewing. You can use washable wool and comfortable Bemberg (rayon) lining. Making pants is not a one hour project, but once you adjust the pattern to fit, it’s a Saturday afternoon. You can install elastic in any part of the waistband. And a pair of elastic waist knit cords take about as much time to sew as driving back and forth to a store to try them on.
I had a pair of charcoal wool pants relined last year because the original lining wore out (they are 12 years old, I work in a court and wear them a lot during the winter!). I bought them as part of a pant/skirt/jacket suit from Ann Taylor Loft, but they do not carry the same quality as they used to have. Alas. I also have lined wool pants (same style, in navy and black) from Talbots. Talbots still sells lined wool pants, but not as many options.
Beth T says
Another reason why wool is less favoured, apart from needing expensive dry cleaning, is that clothes moths are a real problem. Once in your house, the pesky things are extremely difficult to get rid of. Even moth repellant clothes bags are no deterrent.
Vicki Mullan says
Cotswold Collections is an English mail order and shop outlet that usually has a selection of wool or wool mix trousers which are half lined. Some are washable. They go up to British size 22. They are reasonably priced, but maybe not at the cutting edge of fashion. Most have elasticated waist inserts. I find their clothes to be well made and they use natural sustainable materials whenever possible in a variety of lengths . They have an alteration service. I’m not an advocate for the business, I have just been buying their clothes for several years( usually in the sale) and they have served me well . I hope this helps some of your followers.
Appleseed’s has some lined wool pants. And there are some tiny slow fashion companies doing wool trousers, but I haven’t yet seen any that are lined. FourObjects’ version is appealing to me, though — even without lining.
(And hi! I’ve been lurking here for some time but never commented. Your site brings me joy, and a sense of order in the midst of the chaos of the last couple of years.)
A sense of order is one of my biggest goal in life, and here on The Vivienne Files. A tidy wardrobe is the beginning of Zen!
I had Talbots wool pants, skirt, and blazer in black, camel, and gray. I had turtlenecks in all sorts of colors and mixed up the whole lot. I taught art and I would get paint, paste, glue, whatever off of those pants with ease. I miss them.
You seem about my age. I remember almost exclusively wearing wool skirts (no slacks back then – heavens!) and sweaters to high school. Bobbie Brooks and Pendleton (if you were lucky enough) were the gold standard where I lived. Colors were traditional. If you wanted to purchase a new skirt, chances were you already had a matching sweater and tights at home. When I graduated from college, my business attire was wool. It looked nice and polished. If you were careful, dry cleaning was not needed frequently. I remember even wearing a type of undershirt with armpit pads to absorb perspiration and not dirty the sweaters. I miss those days. Not really a polyester, elastic-waistband kind of girl (yet). Cotton blend is my go to choice for slacks in warm weather, but I remember lighter wool blends that could be used almost year round. Give me wool any day.
Linda P says
Hi Janice and Everyone! Yes, this blog post is my usual attire, and with one more layer underneath.
We must be the last colony of females in the planet to talk about ‘slips’. Actually for me I prefer ‘pettipants’ to prevent the dreaded thigh rub (esp in warm weather) https://www.walmart.com/ip/Underworks-Pettipants-Cotton-Knit-Culotte-Slip-Bloomers-Split-Skirt-9-inch-Inseam/163495195. I have 3 in black, white, and beige.
As for the wool pants topic…I did have back when a nice pair of lined wool pants, but when I wore them in my Great Lakes winters the lining was cold on my skin-! Plus I was working full time with preschoolers with special needs so I needed something more stretchy (and washable).
Well, I hope a nice thrift shopper is enjoying them. I am a fleece-lined leggings person these days with the right (tunic-style) top of for Zoom lessons at home.