Going Pants-less Might Be Your Ticket to Freedom
I stopped wearing pants almost immediately after I moved to New York, but I'd had a love-hate relationship with them for years. In junior high, I adopted a pop-punk wardrobe, eschewing anything I considered hyper-feminine. My Catholic high school's strict uniform only allowed for skirts that reached my ankles, and by the time I reached 18, the only other skirt I owned was part of a two-piece suit that I wore for speech team competitions. During the summer, I paired band tees with shorts, jeans, or pajama pants as I jumped from concerts to movie theaters to my friends' houses, never feeling the need to overly impress anyone.
"I didn't even know how to buy clothes."
When I moved from the Illinois suburbs to the center of Manhattan for college, I suddenly had to build a wardrobe. While my peers were stressed out about cultivating a distinct style, I was daunted just by having to develop a rotating number of outfits. I didn't even know how to buy clothes. I'd pop into Forever 21, H&M, or Torrid, pick something from the sales rack, and hope it made my new lifestyle of having to walk everywhere more comfortable. I moved from thick, heavy jeans to leggings under oversized sweaters and drapey tops, until I decided I needed something that allowed even more freedom.
The solution had been in the stores all along: simple, pretty, airy, casual dresses. Why hadn't I figured out before that I could wear just one main item of clothing, instead of coordinating an entire set of clothes? I realized I'd suffered through the leg prisons of pants for too long, and I began rummaging through racks of chain stores to find colorful, bohemian dresses that gave me the freedom of maximum movement.
"As I've gotten more confident with my body, my conscious uncoupling with pants has evolved."
I still held onto a few pairs of fashion leggings to wear with my collection of band tees, but dresses and skirts officially dominated my wardrobe. Besides just being comfortable, as I entered the workforce, interning at magazines and working as a receptionist, I found my dresses provided me a built-in set of classy, professional go-tos. My childhood fears of hyper-femininity were gone, replaced with a desire to wear whatever the hell I wanted—a lack of pants signified my new state of mind as I was thrust into adulthood.
As I've gotten older and more confident with my body and my personal style, my conscious uncoupling with pants has evolved into something more nuanced. A dresses-only attitude has morphed into dresses plus jumpsuits plus rompers—a refreshing and sophisticated update to my collegiate and post-collegiate wardrobe. BRITTANY SPANOS
When Rediscovering Pants Means Rediscovering Your Body's Inherent Power
I only recently started wearing pants. In college, I had a pretty defined silhouette, almost like a cartoon: black ankle boots, black tights, black mini skirt, white blouse, blunt bangs, topknot. It made me look deceptively long, even at a stocky 5'3" (I could not say the same for jeans), and it's just what felt like "me." Until it didn't.
"In block-heeled sandals and swishy hems above the knee, I felt at turns too stuffy, too revealing, too dressed up."
Last spring, as I was planning a trip to Austin, I pulled out my warm weather clothes and everything just felt wrong. In block-heeled sandals and swishy hems above the knee, I felt at turns too stuffy, too revealing, too dressed up, too different from a more effortless look I was seeing in street style slideshows in a way that suddenly made me self-conscious. I'm not one to buckle easily to trends, but I couldn't ignore that everywhere I looked, capital-f Fashion was pushing a relaxed silhouette that challenged the fit-n-flare hourglass I'd adopted.
Still, I packed suede miniskirts and silk dresses for the trip—but on day three, I bought a pair of vintage Levi's 501s (Texas seemed like an apt place to do this). I wore them out that night, and I felt disoriented and nervous, like everyone would know it was my first day wearing pants. Even moving in them felt foreign: freeing in one sense (sitting spread eagle was now possible) but constricting in another (no pant is as flexible as no pants).
"Suddenly I realized: I have a good butt."
Part of my continued intrigue with pants, after my trip to Austin, was because of a slight change in my body type. As I moved from a 32 to a 27 in pants, jeans and trousers started to look different on me. (Important caveat: You can wear whatever the hell you feel good in at any size.) High-rise jeans with just a teeny bit of stretch totally morphed my lower half and its 28-inch inseam into some kind of sleek, long-legged Nicola I had only known in the aforementioned mini skirts and tights (shout-out to J Brand Maria and Urban Outfitters' BDG High Rise Twig). Suddenly I realized: I have a good butt.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that pants are superior to dresses and skirts (and definitely not shorts, which are pure evil). Like literally everything else in life, the bottom half of your look is about outfitting yourself with what seems most authentic to you so that you can live life and have fun. NICOLA FUMO