What They Don’t Tell You About Wearing Pants in The Winter

Tight pants keep you warmest, but big sweaters rarely tuck into them. Which is fine, on occasion, but sometimes you just want to look put together and that requires the capacity to tuck. Silk pants should keep you warm, but they carry the same emotional baggage that tops of the same fabric do in that they are stage-five clingers. Wear them with tights underneath, for example, and watch as the electric current travels through your legs. Watch again as your pants take the shape of your legs, creating this weird illusion of leggings that leaves bunches of fabric to gather at random in various, unwelcome places. You begin to look like a fallen curtain and you’re not warmer for it given the wind gust and easy access points.

Then there are leather pants, which often seem like the better choice for warm leg-wear because they are impenetrable. But pants are different from leggings and leggings are different from body paint yet somehow the latter two entities have become one, leaving leather as the greatest victim of the ill-fated matrimony. So what the fuck is an innocent denizen of the broken — yes, broken — polar vortex to do?

In case you have not heard, the polar vortex —  that pocket of arctic air that sits above the northern and southern poles and occasionally releases some to foster and perpetuate the callous weather systems that make an east coast winter so insufferable  — has fractured in three places. Which means that the arctic air is no longer encased. On the contrary, it is running amuck. Amuck, I tell ya. Brr. And that’s the good news.

The bad news is that we still have to get our aunt fannies out of bed and be people in the world. By convention, being a “person” in the “world” requires putting on pants. But tight pants, which keep you the warmest, can rarely have sweaters tucked into them. This is fine on occasion, but…you see how we’re back at square A, right?

Only we’re not because I cometh at your service! If the above is a long-winded list of things they don’t tell you about wearing pants in the winter, the below is a series of solutions that take into consideration a) the inevitability that you’ll have to leave home and therefore you’ll need pants, and b) that you believe feeling good is correlated to looking good, or vice versa.

So! If you like tucking sweaters into your pants…

Why not try a lighter weight sweater, layered over a thin wool base layer? Or at least a more cropped one? Why don’t you crop your own! You can define what yummy sweater means at your leisure. Something else I do: adjustable waistband pants that extend and contract. This is an especially useful tool for overheated offices because you’re wearing layers and can therefore peel them off like you are an onion and your desk? It’s a pan.

If you like wide-leg silk pants, but they’re not up to snuff for the vortex…

Guess what! You probably like the vibe of those silk pants more than the actual fabric; so loosey goosey! So airy. But cargo pants or wool trousers (as selected above) of the same silhouette make no problem, or electric energy, when worn over tights, long johns, or even straight-up leggings. You’ll rank a 9 out of 10, 10 being the warmest by employing this trick — particularly with long johns or compression tights — for the great outdoors; a tried and true commuter trick that makes a trek to the 6 or the L or the J or the Z more palatable.

If you want to wear leather pants (these options are both vegan and not), but not body paint…

Good news. Here are some. On the warmth scale, you’ll rank a number between a 5 and an 8, which I realize is a range, but a good one to consider if you spend an even amount of time juggling time outdoors and time inside a heated office.

Photo by Edith Young. Leandra wearing Carhartt cargo pantsRachel Comey jacket, Brock cotton cami via over Off-White lurex half-zip turtleneck, Chanel boots and MR Holiday Buffet Unibrow sunglasses.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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