The Simple Wardrobe, Part III: Pants

Like Lady Gaga, I didn't wear pants for years. I was anti-pants. Too much work- you have to close the fly, button the tab, choose a top, pull it over your shoulders, tuck the hem in. Exhausting! Dresses were easy. One zip, and I had a complete outfit. There's an old picture of me and a college classmate, garbage bags in hand, gloves on, cleaning the campus for our school's environmental awareness association. It was dirty, time-consuming work, but we're both wearing dresses.

When I came to Paris, this became the subject of several jokes. Friends hashtagged photos of me to reflect my aversion to pants. Some thought I forgot to pack them. Others knew the truth- I didn't own any at all. Before moving here, I bought four pairs at a thrift store (over a period of two years), inspired by Parisians walking to work in slim cropped trousers. As a corn-fed Midwesterner, I couldn't pull it off. I longed for the freedom and ease of a tailored skirt.

My faithful jeans, however, looked and felt better the older they got. I kept discovering new ways to wear them. When buying clothing, I try to look for blank canvases, items that interchange and transform easily from season to season. The denim wash is neutral enough to wear year round. The moderate flare tucks nicely into boots (people think I'm wearing skinny jeans) yet feels Emmanuelle Alt-ish on its own. The jeans don't sag or bunch, and a lack of rips / fades / embellishment makes them easy to dress up or down. I'm using the pronoun "them," but it's really just one pair. I don't need more.


I'm not tempted to get duplicates, though I patch the frayed hems periodically, and air-dry / wash them inside out. There are lots of "perfect" jeans out there. After more than a decade of thrift shopping, I'm not traumatized when I wear an item to death or can't find another like it. First came Junya Watanabe jeans, $0.50 at Village Discount Outlet, with banded knees and a curved seam in the seat. They got too big, eventually; I've never seen them again, but I moved on to Current/Elliott Stilettos, then finally the Heartbreaker bootcut above. When clothes don't dictate your life, you adapt to new styles and silhouettes. In this respect, tiny wardrobes help you try different things and are more fluid and versatile than overstuffed ones.

The pants you choose might be very different from mine, depending on lifestyle, location, and occupation. I don't prescribe arbitrary numbers for other people's closets, but one logical ratio is twice as many tops as you have bottoms. I have three tops and two bottoms: these jeans, plus one skirt. This wasn't intentional. I looked at what I was really wearing, and these were the pieces I wore and loved. Not to preach "minimalism" or say you should only wear one pair of pants- less isn't necessarily better, although it works for me. The point of all of this is to just show it's possible. Lots of people have fewer clothes than I do, and they lead functional, happy lives. Jeans, J Brand. 

Read the rest of the simple wardrobe series:

Paris to Go


  1. Hi Ariana, I commented on this post earlier today but it seems to have gone awol. I wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog, and thank you for mentioning mine on your side, that was really great of you. Thank you for the inspiration to live more intentionally!

    1. Hi Angela! That is so sweet of you, thank you! This comment means so much to me.

  2. Ariana, do you have any tips for removing mascara from jeans? Just found a black stain on my fav pair of :( Unfortunately it was already washed. Not sure if it' ll come out now... What would you do? :)

    1. Hi Katarina, oh no! What is your mascara made of? Is it oil based or water based? I once did the same thing, washed it and exposed it to heat before noticing, but then I rubbed the stain with olive oil for literally fifteen minutes and then scrubbed it with baking soda. It came out!

      I've seen blood stains (gross) and wine stains come out of clothes that have already been washed before too... don't give up hope! (I hope this works though haha)