There’s no denying that your interests, hobbies, and lifestyle all shape your closet. When I was in art school, I was drawn to dark, minimalist clothing and statement glasses: the Dieter-Rams-approved ensemble that would convey my competency in pure, form-follows-function design. During the years where my social calendar revolved around swing dancing, my closet staples consisted of Keds, fit and flare dresses, and gingham. Now, with the past few years severely impacting my usual activities, I’ve taken an interest in hiking and foraging. So, naturally (no pun intended), I find my style pivoting towards a more outdoorsy, utilitarian vibe – complete with vintage thermals, men’s button downs, and hard-wearing trousers – like this pair of twill pants.
Grey Twill Trousers
Purchased from: The Last Hunt, 2020 (Naked and Famous)
Material: 68% Cotton, 19% Acrylic, 12% Polyester, 1% Polyurethane
Wears counted: 64
But even prior to my lifestyle shift, I’d been on the hunt for the perfect pair of durable, stylish pants I could wear in the colder months. I wanted something functional, but with a bit of personality, and after years of being obsessed with skirts and blouses, I was keen to explore the more androgynous side of my style. I spotted these pants from Naked and Famous while browsing an online sportswear outlet one day. The unique shape and the neppy texture of the material really drew me in. It seemed like exactly what I was looking for: something simple and well-made, with interesting design choices. However, I was extremely wary about online shopping at the time; without the ability to try them on, I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase them, even with the clearance price tag and the limited stock in my size. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about these pants. They remained on my wishlist for an entire year – talk about practicing restraint – before I finally bought them in late 2020.
When I first received them, I thought I made a huge mistake. The waist was big, the crotch hung low – the slouchy fit was just so different from any pants I had ever owned before. After a few wears, though, they started to grow on me. I realized I had to unlearn my expectations that pants needed to be fitted in the waist, hips, and butt to be flattering and attractive. Now that I’ve had them for over a year, I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the saggy booty look.
These pants are the Relax Trousers from Naked and Famous, a reputable Canadian brand that manufactures its wares in Montreal. The material is a dense Japanese nep double weave twill with just a bit for stretch. I love the nubby, imperfect texture and the thick fabric that feels incredibly durable. The fit was unlike any other pants I’d seen, although there seems to be a growing trend in “barrel” or “balloon” leg trousers these days. It’s high-waisted, but sits closer to my hips, creating a relaxed, drop-crotch effect that looks more cool than sloppy. There’s also a bit of volume up top, which helps to break up the straightness of my figure, and I’m very grateful for the roominess throughout the legs, especially while working from home. This is also a brand that pays attention to details, from the flattering front pleats and the deep slash pockets to the welt pockets in the back. These features add a touch of sophistication to the piece so that these trousers, while casual, can still be styled to suit more professional settings. One minor annoyance I’ve had with these pants is that the zipper doesn’t sit completely flat, although the hardware seems to be very hardy. The cropped, tapered leg is cute, but does let the draft in, so a pair of high woollen socks or base layer tights are a must for truly cold days. Still, I consider these pants to be one of my best clothing purchases, and a closet staple I expect to enjoy for years to come.
It’s not secret that I’ve long loved a grey trouser for winter. Over the years, I’ve cycled through thrifted wool pairs that were scratchy – I’ve now learned that lining is essential – and too tight in the waist, as well as cheap polyester pairs that looked good, but would get extremely pilled after washing. With these pants, I feel like I’ve finally found what I’d been looking for (cue cheesy, romantic music). In the less-than-two years I’ve had them, they’ve already racked up 64 wears. From fall through spring, they’re on my weekly rotation and I’m nowhere close to getting sick of putting them on.
I think what makes these pants so wearable (and rewearable) is that they don’t fit neatly into one style category. They’re what you might consider a basic, yet far from boring or typical in my eyes. What makes them interesting to me is the interplay between the ruggedness of the material and the soft lines of the cut. They have a tough, masculine energy – like classic wool hunting pants – but feature tailored elements that make them appear more fancy and put together – like they wouldn’t look out of place in a Margaret Howell collection. A style chameleon, they suit multiple style moods and serve well in different contexts.
For me, these are the pants I reach for when I’m going for a walk in the woods. Last summer and autumn, with limited options for recreation, I developed a passion for mushroom foraging and identification. These were the perfect pants for tromping around and crouching in the brush on these forays; they’re comfortable, warm, breathable, and protect me from burrs and ticks. In November, we stayed in a tiny house on a small home farm with vegetable gardens and animals, close to conservation areas and hiking trails. There, I wore these pants with a thermal shirt, a grey wool shirt jacket, a toque, and hiking shoes, and it made me feel like I was living my ultimate homestead fantasy.
Of course, beyond weekend adventures, my life is in the city. Here, after brushing the dirt off, I wear them while I’m at home (they’re honestly as comfortable as sweats – I’m sitting cross-legged in them as type this from my desk), running errands in the neighbourhood, and out enjoying urban life. With a simple sweater, it makes for the perfect laidback ensemble. When I feel like being a bit more dressed-up, I might pair it with a thrifted silk blouse for a vintage, romantic look. And for the few in-person work meetings I’ve had in the past year, I’ve enjoyed wearing it with my sleek grey turtleneck and black leather boots to convey that I know it’s business time. These pants are a wardrobe staple that moulds into the different dimensions of my life and sense of style.
My journey to finding good pants that work for me has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I went from squeezing myself into skintight pairs that made me uncomfortable to leaning on elastic waist joggers to help me get through my late university days. Through the trials, I’ve learned so much about my personal style preferences and have slowly accumulated a collection of bottoms that allow me to move through the world with comfort and confidence. Of them, these trousers are one of my favourite pairs (Naked and Famous, if you’re reading this, please bring this style back in natural, brown, or indigo!).
There’s no doubt that clothes evoke personas. When I put on this pair of trousers, it brings out the side of me that desires a simpler life spent close to nature, reveling in its beauty and gathering its bounty. Is it an unrealistic fantasy? Absolutely. But in a way, we always consume, acquire, make things in pursuit of a vision. Although I’m sitting in my heated apartment right now, eating store-bought food and spending too much time on the Internet, these pants bring me just a bit closer to this alternate reality I’ve imagined for myself.