It's Time for a National Reckoning Over Pants

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At this stage in the game, everyone has figured out how to dress themselves, despite fashion media’s insistence that hard pants are over and no one with breasts will ever wear a brassiere again. But as we trot towards winter’s silent, solitary repose, a new sort of sartorial desire awakens within. The time for indoor-outdoor pants is nigh.


The indoor-outdoor pant sounds suspiciously like athleisure, and technically, I suppose it is. But there’s a clear distinction between a sweatpant and an indoor-outdoor pant, the former of which is often branded as athleisure and the latter, something I made up that feels right. Sweatpants are for comfort inside the home, and also, for running to the store for two seconds for chips and then back. There are some who can pull off the fashion sweatpant, and I applaud them, but for the rest of us, the indoor-outdoor pant is the way and the light.

What distinguishes an indoor-outdoor pant from athleisure is both the material and the fit; you want the pant to be sort of drapey enough to be mid-2000s-culotte adjacent, but not so much that you’ve veered into palazzo pant territory. An elastic waist is essential, because even though there is pleasure in the constriction provided by denim on the midsection, it’s much nicer to sit down at your desk for 10-14 hours in pants that allow the tummy to breathe. Everything I’m describing here is essentially an indoor-only pant, but the indoor-outdoor pant should look “dressy” enough to pass as “trousers” rather than just “soft pants I wear now and will never take off.”

The need for these pants is arguably minimal; at this point, the line between inside clothes and outside clothes is blurred, everyone’s figured out what they want to wear, and the novelty of tittering between bouts of hysterical sobbing about never seeing the outside has largely worn off. But there is a second—or third, depending—wave descending upon this nation, running unchecked thanks to widespread incompetence in every level of the government. Just because we did the whole “stay inside and do a Zoom call with your friends” shit once already doesn’t mean that anyone is particularly happy about doing it again. Ideally, we’ve learned some lessons from the first go-around, and are willing to take those learnings to heart. For me, this means processing the collective grief of mourning whatever it is that we’ve lost this year, both large and small, by buying something in an attempt to fill the void. Pants. It’s gotta be pants.



Years ago, I was introduced to the term “trailer pants” by a weird-ass metalhead shut-in from PA. He described trailer pants as something in the ballpark of those cheap pajama pants you buy at Walmart and wear exclusively in the trailer you rent periodically for hunting trips when you don’t want to put your grubby ass in nicer pants.

I’m afraid all of my indoor/pajama pants, even the nice joggers the wife bought me from Polo, have turned into trailer pants during this work-from-home eternity.