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Consider Your Pants Wardrobe—How Many Pairs Does the Modern Man Need?

A lot of guys only have one pair of jeans. Maybe a trouser or two—special occasion ware that doesn’t fit perfectly, but makes it through an interview here and a wedding there.

Pants-building a bottoms wardrobe for the century.

You want pants that take you day to night, work to play. You get the idea. But how many do you really need? There's a difference between being prepared for all life has in store versus letting your jean roster get too deep. You want to wear what you've got, after all.

Anyway, enough with the pants musings. Below, we'll discuss the best way to put together a pants wardrobe as nuanced as you are.

Jeans—The Wardrobe Workhorse

Well, let’s get started with the true blues. Many guys are content to just spend their lives filling out the same jeans, until that fateful day when there are holes that no longer provide a cool, distressed kind of vibe.

Jeans are highly personal, and once you find the right pair, by God you document that model number and order multiples.

That said, we’re fans of creating a curated collection of quality basics and you probably only need a couple of good pairs. A dark wash is going to be more versatile than lighter pairs, and should take you through all life’s moments—date nights and barbecues to concerts, brunches and beyond.

A slim or straight fit (not tight) is going to your most versatile option. Keep things trim, through the thigh and seek out a pair that doesn’t squeeze those calf muscles. Try Everlane’s Slim Fit. They’re the kind of jean that you can wear to work (in laxer industries, mind you), and at $68 they’re relatively affordable, so grab a couple of washes. Or splurge a little, and go with a darker wash of Rag & Bone jeans. The black will give you the most mileage and you can choose from three fits ranging from skinny to relaxed.

Black Pants—A More Versatile Alternative to Jeans

Black slacks are a man’s secret weapon. They’re kind of the “jeans” of the working world, especially if you work in an office that frowns on you “expressing yourself.” Falling between wool trousers and chinos in terms of formality, the black pant is perfect for more formal workplaces, but can easily be dressed down with a grey tee and a thick knit cardigan.

Our Picks:

Michael Kors Stretch Dress Pants—classic fit, work appropriate, and comfy as hell. Bonobos’ Weekday Warrior Pant—an easy care cotton option that looks sharper than it feels. Or, go with Club Monaco’s Modern Stretch Trouser. Oh yeah, these options do come in other colors, too. If you’re so inclined.

Chinos & Cords—Office Friendly, and Frankly, More Comfortable than Jeans

Chinos and cords, we’ve lumped them together for a couple of reasons—one they offer the same level of comfort and office-appropriateness, two, they function as a great way to add a different color into your rotation.

We also consider these sort of an opportunity to play around. Add a chestnut color, a forest green, or a burgundy into the mix—these colors all act like a neutral and work with button-downs and tees alike.

Our picks:

J Brand Chinos—A little stretchy, but cotton all the way—these chinos are a real investment slack best reserved for days where you’ll need a little casual cool vibe. Or, instead invest in cult-favorite chino, beloved by the Reddit boys, Unis. Their Gio fit is skinny, but not too skinny, perfected by that intentional, yet low-key cuff. Or keep it classic with Banana Republic. Can’t go wrong with these earth tones, baby.

What’s the Magic Number?

In the end, there’s not really an appropriate amount of pants you should own.

Maybe aim for about six pairs—this way you’re not bulking up your closet with too many pairs of embellished jeans, but you’ve got enough to get you through the week. Provided you don’t spill on yourself; you don’t need to wash them every time you wear.

Our advice? Invest in a couple of high-quality pairs—a dark wash that can be dressed up and a gray or lighter colored pair. Unless you’re a real jeans-head (if you love denim, more power to you), we think you’ll get more mileage out of your wardrobe by adding chinos, cords, and all-occasion black pants into the mix.

There’s no number to aim for, really. Some people prefer to simplify, while others are collectors. But, we do think you should toss or donate the pants that aren’t working. That means, the too tight, the too baggy, and any passé trend you feel weird about wearing.

Ultimately, you’re probably going to keep wearing the same few pairs—make em count.

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