No Pants Summary: How to do it yourself

May 5, 2011 in Fashion, Style by alliemcc

Part 3: You can do it too!

There are many stories about women and their skirts.

They used to wear them, and stopped when x happened.

They used to hate them, and now love them and wear them as often as possible.

They like to wear them, but are shy about looking too (feminine, formal, slutty—fill-in-the-blank).

They own a few, but never wear them, but would like to…

Photo of author Roald Dahl's wife, Patricia.

This whole project was inspired by a styling client who told me she didn’t wear her skirts and dresses in her normal, day-to-day life—playing with her kids on the playground, cleaning house, running errands, working at home. She commented that they’re “not really practical” for an active lifestyle.

In a flash of fashion history, I realized that women have worn almost exclusively skirts in almost every culture around the globe from the dawn of time until the 20th century. And we’re talking about some very active lifestyles: migrating on foot, herding animals, harvesting crops, caring for children, dancing, playing, cooking over open fires

Have you ever heard a woman say she hates trying on skirts?

Is there a woman anywhere in the world who has not complained about trying on jeans?

So, I wondered, when did it become impractical, functionally obsolete, inconvenient, to wear a garment without separate legs?


In my previous 2 posts summarizing my month-long experiment, I did some statistical and color analysis on the outfits I put together. By no means was this an experiment that would stand up to scientific scrutiny—that is, only a few people could replicate it with similar results:

  • I own a lot more skirts and dresses than the average American woman;
  • My lifestyle is pretty routine, and does not involve a lot of manual labor, or children;
  • I’m also a bit more self-aware and have done enough body analysis, so I know what is flattering (or not) on my particular frame;
  • My measurements are within most standard sizes;
  • I don’t mind wearing secondhand clothes, so my wardrobe budget is quite flexible;
  • I don’t have a job (or religion, or government) with a regulated dress code; etc.


That being said, I think there are a few of my styling ideas that will work well for most women in most situations:

neutral + bright is a fail-proof color combination. If you’re tired of wearing all neutrals, or anxious about wearing too much color, just pair it up.

a cardigan or jacket is the perfect finish to almost any outfit. Either one will give polish to even the most basic combination (tee and jeans), and you can take it off or put it on depending on what you’re doing or what the temperature is. I have a narrow backwidth (get your measurements taken!) and small shoulders, so I like H&M, Ann Taylor/Loft, Banana Republic, and Gap for their smaller and petite sized basic jackets and cardis. I've also had some luck at consignment and secondhand shops. But everyone's got different size issues, so you should take all your jackets to a tailor to get it just right for you.

a wide variety of belts, stockings, and scarves can give even a really basic, formulaic wardrobe a lot of mileage. My favorite online source for stockings and leggings is Sock Dreams. I've also heard good things about We Love Colors. Most of my scarves and belts have come from secondhand stores of all kinds: consignment, thrift/charity, vintage…

it’s really not possible to own too much black, in spite of reports to the contrary. Black is the perfect foil to a bright solid or a print. It is slimming, as cliché as that is. And used strategically with light or bright colors, it can create all sorts of flattering optical illusions with your body. Remember, dark, cool colors recede and make things look smaller; light and warm colors make things "move" forward and look bigger– use colors wisely!

I've got one more No Pants Month Wrap-Up coming up, with some great insights from fellow style bloggers, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Meantime, shoot me your questions about how I styled 32 outfits without a single pair of pants! Or anything else about color, accessories, thrift shopping… I'm happy to help!

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