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October 20th, 2013

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Where does one buy a good pair of well-fitting, durable, good corduroys which both men and women can wear?

I am serious. Where do these magical unisex corduroy pants exist, and how can we get some?

I'll go back a bit. Sonya and I like wearing corduroy. Who doesn't? Corduroy pants are comfortable; they're pleasing, they come in reassuring dark colors, and they make great sounds when you drag a comb across 'em. I am envious of Sonya's dark green corduroy jacket. It is a lovely jacket which she wears very well and doesn't fit me so I don't ask to wear it. I can't quite say Sonya is envious in return of my corduroy pants, but damned if we haven't discovered another one of those lousy gender disparity things that this country so loves. While shopping for goddamn pants, of all things.

The thing is that I'm a dude, right. And I can walk into a store such as, say, Sears, or LL Bean, or Eddie Bauer (though, honestly, I'd rather walk a mile somewhere else rather than step into Eddie Bauer) and say "HELLO I AM A DUDE WHERE ARE THE PANTS." And off I go to the section with corduroy pants for dudes, and they're in reassuring dark colors, and as long as I accurately remember my waist size this month I'm gonna be fine with whatever I pick out and if not, I either keep the receipt or I use a belt.[1]

But apparently clothing options aren't the same for ladies as they are for dudes. HOLY CRAP WHAT A TOTAL REVELATION WHO KNEW?[2] But when Sonya and I embarked on CORDUROY QUEST 2013 a few weeks back, we ended up on a sartorial adventure which ended with me down a hunnerd bucks and Sonya fuming at the entire fashion industry.

The nice places like LL Bean and Land's End what make nice corduroy pants for men also make corduroy pants for women. That is nice. What is not nice, however, is that LL Bean and Land's End make corduroy pants only for women who like to look all feminine and such. This is why their pants for ladies are offered with capri-style cuffs which look absolutely hideous but promise to give you "slim ankles", and with a little spandex in the waist so it'll stretch and not make the ladies look all fat and ugly and a bad baby birthin' prospect or whatever fear is currently being spread by advertising.

This is not to say that looking all feminine and such is bad. I know many people who look all feminine and such and do a very good job of it; I have never once heard any of them complain about fat ankles in corduroy pants. So, um, there's that.

Again, to contrast: Dude Corduroy Pants: Simple cut, 100% cotton, nice colors. Ladies' Corduroy Pants: Not-simple cuts, always with Spandex added to "give it a touch of stretch", and in colors that range from Golf Course Midway Green to something which could best be described as Unfortunate Baby Spoor. (I believe Land's End calls it "curry". Okay, then: Unfortunate Baby Curry.)

Sonya, however, does not dress overly femme, nor is she given to wearing clothing which looks as if an entire maternity ward has been sick on it. She has a three-piece men's tweed suit in which she looks terrific, but that suit was made long, long ago. Her favorite corduroy pants, made by LL Bean back when they actually had the notion that not all women want to dress alike, are not long for this world. She would like to buy corduroy pants which do not have Spandex, which will not give her slim ankles, and which will come in the darker, muted colors which we both like. But for all we've looked, we can't find anything.

She cannot wear much of the corduroy for dudes, though, because while that would make things much, much easier, it appears to be a simple fact of anatomy that dudes and ladies have differently-shaped hips and the pants cut for dudes are now specifically cut for dude hips. Sonya and I share a lot but we apparently don't share the same size hips, so my dude pants are a no-go. (They're also a few sizes too large, but THAT'S WHAT BELTS ARE FOR)

So what is there to do? Where can one go to buy corduroy pants for women who don't want femme pants? Simple cut, good fit, 100% cotton, and made of good, sturdy corduroy material? (The other thing we noticed while looking through catalogs and stores was that pants for ladies are made much less sturdier than pants for dudes. Because apparently dudes are so manly and rugged they'll wear their corduroy down bare before you know it, doing such manly and rugged things as walking in pants or sitting down at a computer.)

This is an important question and, if a solution is found, will put our minds to ease once we know there's at least one corduroy pants-maker out there who is cool with the idea of ladies who don't want to look like Laura Petrie. I mean, not that Laura Petrie wasn't hot, but I am not in love with Laura Petrie; I am in love with a woman who wants to wear simple corduroy pants.

I've never been much concerned with clothing as long as A. it fits, B. it covers up parts that'd get me arrested in public, and C. it's clean; now I know why. This is stoopid, Barney. This is really, really stoopid.

1. Forethought? Ha! Changing rooms are only to be used in the most dire of circumstances. I can't even begin to explain the neuroses behind this one because I really don't know what they are, only that I break out in a cold sweat when contemplating trying on multiple articles of clothing in a changing room.

2. I will be honest; I have not given much thought to ladies' clothing beyond that which I have had to wear for theatrical pursuits and whatnot. I know how to buy pantyhose that works for baseball mascot costumes (did I ever tell the tale of the Hatfield Hen in this here journal?) and I know that playing a nun so doesn't involve shopping for women's clothes because all you need is a big wimple and a form-hiding robe.

(15 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 02:59 am (UTC)
While I don't own any of their pants, when I think "sturdy pants", I think of Carhartts (it's what my sturdy pant loving friends wear). Plus, it looks like they make a women's but mostly gender neutral regular courderoy pant in 4 colors.

Good luck! Pants are the hardest thing for me to buy, too.
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 03:14 am (UTC)
Those have spandex in them, too.

If you find 100% corduroy, Spatch, please share the source with the rest of us - I'd be interested in them too!
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 05:38 am (UTC)
China has spoiled me forever, I suspect. My first inclination is to say "Come to China, take a pair of the pants you want the new pants to be like, and have a bunch of corduroy copies made". While I imagine you could do the same in America, it'd be hellishly expensive.
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 06:52 am (UTC)
Instinctively I'd go for more outdoorsy brands, as their women's trousers tend to be more comfortable and have useful things like pockets. I guess Howies for the US? I don't know other comparable brands. In the UK I'd see if Fat Face had anything in (their cords in-store are sort of brushed and soft this season tho').
Date:October 21st, 2013 12:30 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking lands End or llbean.
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
My impression is [and a quick search of their website seems to confirm] that for anything not exclusively outdoorsy, LL Bean has jumped entirely onto the "women's clothes must be different! feminine!" bandwagon.
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and more's the pity because LL Bean was for years the place to go for good outdoorsy clothing for both men and women, and even better if you could travel to the big store in Freeport. Now on the women's side of things, they're turning into a Down East Old Navy. It's the enormous touristy cruise ship Sonya and I saw in Casco Bay; looking "nice, I guess" and adhering very little to the overall philosophy of the place.
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 12:09 pm (UTC)
Apart from reduced durability, what's the practical problem with stretch? I like it for the extra comfort and freedom of movement. (I hate most other things in women's trousers though. And aren't we supposed to be having a 90s revival by now? Why are all the trousers so damn skinny?)
[User Picture]
Date:October 21st, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
Sonya has a thin build and likes an academic look with loose-fitting trousers, and a decent pair of corduroys will allow a good share of movement. They don't have to all be tight and skinny cut; they just are, which is aggravating.
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2013 09:32 am (UTC)
Ok yeah, just cutting them to be comfortable to begin with would be preferable to adding stretch to fix it. (I have cyclist's thighs though so I fill up even fairly generous trousers.)
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
I'm pretty femme-y, so I have no advice on the pants thing. Just wanted to say that I suspect part of the reason for spandex-in-everything is to compensate for the lousy fit you get in mass-produced clothing. I will now shove my soapbox to the back of my closet before I climb on it.
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
the Gap has a fine selection of cords, although I guess the pair I got were seasonal. i would also suggest thrift stores, as the finest cords are from the 70s.
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2013 05:30 am (UTC)
Tough to find any without spandex or "elastine", but. Kohl's apparently has a few that might be suitable; Amazon has a Woolrich that might do; and there's a site called Gander Mountain that might have an option, though the one I found was sold out. Maybe calling them on the phone, I dunno.
There was a Sierra Trading Post pant that has spandex but looks otherwise OK--I know, not her first choice.

That's all I can come up with in 15 minutes. Apologies, but I am behind on my naptime.
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2013 06:59 am (UTC)
In agreeing with the Gaps suggestion. Actually my favorite pair of cords that I just butchered for parts today was from Old Navy, from 10? Years ago. Thrift stores might work. I was thinking Levi stores / outlets, in that their denim is generally a good product and they do practical products well. Something like j crew might work. I got a "boyfriend" jacket from them that was really stellar: practical, water-resistant, not femme. I've seen some pants for women that are more "boot cut", less tight. Hm. Will think on it. What about osh kosh, or a western wear store? Or Ben Davis?
[User Picture]
Date:October 22nd, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
She would like to buy corduroy pants which ... will not give her slim ankles

This made me laugh out loud. Let no one ever break the news to her that ... she actually HAS slim ankles.

I do understand, though. She doesn't want pants that imitate manacles on those slim ankles.

I too greatly admire her corduroy jacket.

Alas, I have no solutions. Clothes buying sucks, and gendered clothes really suck bigtime. Buying men's trousers and then tailoring them to fit at the waist (i.e., buying ones that are large enough to go over women's hips... which will then be too big in the waist, and then taking in the waist) might be an answer, but it's a lot of work, unless you happen to have a tailor friend.

Edited at 2013-10-22 09:29 pm (UTC)

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