I’m a pants person. I’d choose to wear the same shirt every day over the same pants in a heartbeat. The shelves in my closet tell the same story: stacks and stacks of pants on the left; a pile of similar cotton T-shirts on the right. But contrary to how love operates in other facets of my life, my affection for pants has made me super finicky about them. If a pair doesn’t hit all the right markers — fit, fabric, look, feel — I despair and change immediately. I’m picky.
Wide-leg pants, which I love and intend to wear past their trending expiration date, are especially tough to get right. Perhaps I was spoiled from the start: The first pair I owned were Jesse Kamm’s Sailor Pants, which have since proven to be my favorites, but which cost four hundred American dollars. (!) (They were a gift.) Whenever I wear them, people constantly ask where they’re from and how much they cost and then get disappointed by my answer. That’s why I became hell-bent on finding others that look and feel great but are more affordable.
I love Kamms (pictured here in light blue) because they have a high-enough waist and a long-enough crop, keep their shape over many wears, are made of a thick, structured but comfortable cotton, and fall at a consistent angle away from my body. If you’re in search of a similar style but can’t fork over $399, below are six pairs I’ve found that hit all (or at least some) of those markers, for less.
I bought a pair of these right when they came out and was impressed by their sturdiness. They’re thick and definitely hold their shape like the Kamms. My main complaint is the length: I wish they had a higher waist and a longer crop; the silhouette reads a little too culotte for me. Still, if you’re looking for a solid pair of wide-legs that will hold up but don’t want to spend over $100, these will do the trick. Also, they’re very comfortable and fit true to size (here I’m wearing a 4).
The Simone’s have a longer crop, which I like, but a slightly shorter waist than I prefer (again). That said, I like how they fall — a little wider than the Kamms — and are a little thinner, which makes for easier movement. The indigo wash and details (oversize pockets and hems) make them feel expensive. One thing to note is they don’t cut as slim along the thigh as others. If you’re okay with/into that extra volume, these are a good pick.
Caves’ Lucie Wool Pants, $215
Caves is an Australian brand that I discovered when I saw stylist Danielle Nachmani wearing these same pants. I love that they’re wool (perfect for fall and winter) and their shape is perfect (I wouldn’t change a thing). This is a super nice pair of pants. I think they actually fall better than the Kamms and would continue to after many wears. (After a few wears, the button-fly on Kamm pants can pucker in a way some people find unflattering — these don’t.)
I’d say they were my favorite if not for the slight itchiness of the wool, and the fact that the sizing is a little hard to predict. Here I’m wearing a size AU 8 (supposedly a US 2-4), but they are way too small. The next size up is AU 10 (supposedly a US 8, but which fits like a US 6). If you buy these: SIZE UP, and cross your fingers Caves gets more sizes.
These were my all-time favorites. I’m obsessed with them and would recommend these almost as highly as the Kamms. Their cut is basically identical (down to the protected button closure, waist height, crop length and extra large hem), but the fabric is slightly thinner, which is actually way more comfortable. For these, I’d recommend sizing down, as they stretch out a little bit with wear. That said, they fall so nicely that I like them when they’re fresh or a bit worn-in. (Here I’m wearing them in a 4, but have grown to prefer the 2.)
THESE ARE SO FUN. They’re not that much cheaper than the Kamms, but I love how much more special and memorable they are. The huge upturned hems mean you can mess with the length (I prefer longer), and the waist is definitely the most flattering and comfortable of any high waist I’ve worn. These also have a nice and structured feel to them, but are a little more breathable. If you’re game to invest in one pair and want them to feel really special and worth it, I’d definitely choose these.
Delfina Balda Lisso Pant, $325
To be honest, the price of this pair feels a little off the mark for their look and feel, but the color and seam down the front make them feel refreshing and different. I haven’t seen pants like this; they’re definitely outfit-makers. They don’t have the classic wide-leg shape of the others, but that makes them a little more versatile. After this shoot I tried giving them a big cuff to create capris, and they looked really cool with ankle boots. If you already have wide-legs and are looking for a fresh take, these are a good choice.
I tried more than are pictured above, including cheaper ones, but these were the ones I felt comfortable recommending. I will say that with a wide-leg cut, because they don’t hug your legs, they’re more reliant on fabric and less reliant on your body shape to make them look good, which means material and structure go a long way. For that reason, I’d suggest spending a little more if you’re debating.
Have more questions re: the above? Ask away. Have a really good pair that’s not here? Please share!
Photos by Edith Young. Wearing Mansur Gavriel shoes throughout.