It would appear the ungovernable forces controlling the fashion world have put their heads together and decided that what we’re not going to do this year is wear restrictive, uncomfortable clothing.
Earlier this year, a TikTok video lauding the merits of Rag & Bone’s Miramar Pants sparked a run on the product. Sewn from Tencel—a sustainable fabric created using fibers taken from raw material wood—and printed with a trompe l’oeil pattern that is a dead-ringer for denim, the influencers lucky enough to snag a pair swear that the pants look like jeans and “feel like silk.”
Rag & Bone has created what is essentially a stylish and modernized reinterpretation of the jeggings and pajama jeans made popular at the start of the 2010s. But for those unwilling to shell out the $275 required to own a pair, here are eight of the not-quite-jeans pant options that will have people saying, “I can’t believe they’re not denim.”
Bang for Your Buck
Styled correctly, cargo pants can be as sexy as they are functional (just ask Jennifer Lopez who was recently spotted out wearing a pair courtesy of The Frankie Shop). Not to mention timely: Net-a-Porter Market Director Libby Page told The Zoe Report that “Cargo pants were featured by almost a quarter of all designers who showed during fashion month.” For those looking for a comfortable way to cash in on this Y2K favorite, Halara’s mid-rise casual cargo pants are perfect for dressing up and down. Currently on sale for $45, these pants have some stretch to them, and are light enough to wear comfortably in the warmer months. Plus, they’re machine wash friendly (provided you turn the garment inside out and use the cold cycle).
For a Night Out
This isn’t the first time we’ve waxed affectionate about Montserrat New York’s Jet Sets, but this is the first time we’re focusing specifically on their denim option. Priced at $325, this is by far the most expensive item on this list—but the splurge is easier to justify when you remind yourself you’re getting two pieces and multiple styling options. Once tucked in, the Jet Set becomes a jumpsuit (and hallelujah: It doesn’t require you to fully strip during bathroom breaks), but the pieces are just as easily worn independently of each other. Guaranteed to make you the best dressed person at the airport or the most comfortable person at the party that night, this transitional piece is definitely worth the money.
On the Move
Most of us would rather saw off a limb than condemn ourselves to wearing a pair of restrictive denim jeans on a flight, but as it turns out, there are other options. Aviator’s Best Travel Jeans in their boyfriend cut are the perfect compromise. A little on the heavier side, the texture on these pants is more reminiscent of denim than any other piece included on this list, but these pants’ saving grace lies in the softness of their fabric. Made using a combination of Tencel, cotton, and spandex, Aviator’s pants win the travel category thanks to one key feature: Both back pockets contain hidden zipper pockets, perfect for securing small items. For people like me who prefer to leave the house with an ID, a credit card, and very little else, these are clutch addition to any suitcase. Retailing for $145, these pants don’t come cheap, but they’re a great wardrobe investment piece, and the company helps sweeten the deal with free custom hemming.
Pants You Could Live In
Jen7’s Traveler Drawstring pants are also made of Tencel and cotton, but from a tactile perspective, the product could not feel more different. Easily the lightest and softest option on this list, these loose fitting pants float around your legs, making them a must-bring for a beach vacation, or any packing list designed to cater to a warm weather destination. Paradoxically, Jen7—made by the manufacturers of 7 For All Mankind—has created a pant so comfortable, it’s perfect to travel in, but the piece takes up so little room in a suitcase, it makes more sense to pack it and wear something heavier instead.
Fits Like a Glove
eShakti’s Vintage Blue Cotton Denim Palazzo Pants are made of 100% cotton, but the look is pure denim. Benefiting from the brand’s customizable measurements, these denim-presenting pants feel like they were made for your body because they were. Comfortable enough to sit cross-legged in, but tailored enough to wear to the office, these floor-skimming pants pair best with a heel and dry weather conditions. And at the moment, they’re on sale for $46, knocking $20 off the item’s usual price (plus customization costs).
In addition to being the year of the pajama jean, 2010 was also the year of the jegging. A pant fusion that crossed skinny jeans and leggings, jeggings were easy to dress up by tucking into boots, but beloved for their forgiving elasticity and soft fabric. Buddy Love’s Moonshine High-Waisted Flare Jeans in the light wash offer all the comfort of 2010’s favorite jean facsimile, but are presented in a bell bottom cut that screams Y2K. While maybe not the best option for petites—these babies have some length to them and might overwhelm a shorter frame—the high-waist and flared cut make them a flattering, comfortable option for people across all body types.
Lizzo just dropped her first denim collection for Yitty, complete with smoothing jeans made from “comfy AF four-way textured stretch twill fabric,” available in three different washes. If you’re already thinking about summer, the collection also includes booty shorts made from the same material, as well as a matching corset.