When I saw these Paper-Bag Waist Chambray Pants on the J.Crew website a few weeks ago, there was one picture (of the product only, not showing them on a real, uhhh, human being) and one review. AND YET. I had a feeling they could be The Only Pant(s) I May Ever Need. OK, maybe a bit dramatic. But on paper (errrr…screen?) they seemed almost too ideal: comfy, chic, versatile. Big potential for feeling easy and cool in that menswear-y, Diane Keaton kinda way.

Paper-Bag Waist Pants In Chambray: 11 Outfit Ideas

But, of course, the question mark was fit. Would they be as flattering and truly wearable as I hoped? I mean, you know from the title that’s a Big Fat YES. But just to really drive the point home, I styled them up with loads of simple little things to show you how these pants can truly shine all year long.

So here’s what you can’t learn online about these paper-bag waist pants: yes, these are chambray, but a slightly heavier weight that still has great drape but passes easily for denim, meaning they’re truly wearable year-round. The sizing is easy, too. The fit is TTS and pretty forgiving. And — a pleasant surprise! — the belt is removable, so if you wanted to style these with a knotted tee or blouse, you could do so without worrying about the bow competing with the knot. Same goes for a tunic-length blouse or sweater, which would lay over the waistband just fine with the belt removed.

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

Couple of quick notes:

  1. Sizing: I’m 5’5″, about 130 lbs and am wearing a size 0 (my usual at J.Crew). If you’re shorter, the hem of these will cover more of your shoe; if you’re taller, they’ll be more cropped. (Duh.) As you can see below, I actually like wearing them rolled and cuffed, too, so I think it’d be easy to make the length work for a variety of heights.
  2. Earrings throughout are these tortoise shell hoops — super lightweight, classic and comfy. If you can snag ’em on sale, even better.
  3. I always get a few questions when I shoot in this room, so if you’re curious, the wall color is Behr’s Starless Night, which we had color-matched at Benjamin Moore. 😉

Hello, Sunshine
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 1

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

tank (TTS) | pants (TTS) | wedges (similar vibe or I love the ease of these)

This easy tank from J.Crew is a new favorite. It has a split back that can be worn open or knotted (sorry, somehow I skipped a picture of that, but you can see it online). In the pic on the left, I gathered it into a cropped length before knotting it; in the picture on the right, I tucked the loose ends. Fit is TTS and there are loads of colors — some of which are on SUPER sale, though sizes are dwindling — but I love the pop of nearly-neon yellow with the medium wash on the chambray.


Little Linen Top!
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 2

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

top (TTS) | pants (TTS) | slingbacks (similar, sizes going fast, or love the buckle detail on these)

Not much I wouldn’t at least try to pair my Voloshin x TME striped top with, and I loved the easy vibe of this whole look. Super summery, and with the exposed back of the top, just a bit flirty.


Little Linen Top: The Sequel
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 3

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

top (see similar options in the shopper, below) | pants (TTS) | wood platforms (similar vibe; and an affordable option)

This is an homage to the Emily of Yesteryear — the highest wooden platform heels available and a flirty but not overly feminine blouse. Heels are ancient, but I’m solidly feeling these in gorgeous suede or these if you wanted a similar vibe at a super affordable price point. I found a few flirty tops that are super similar in vibe, below.


Sporty Spice
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 4

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

tank (similar here, here or here) | pants (TTS) | sneakers (TTS)

I just introduced Lana to The Spice Girls this week and now it’s Wannabe on repeat all day every day — and I’m not complaining. I actually love this look — and I pegged (yes pegged!) the hem to create a jogger-like vibe that I like just as much, if not more, than the standard hem. My tank is last season, but I love this one, which you could easily knot or even crop yourself, or this one is a similar fit in a brighter hue. Not feeling the logo? This.


Tee Time
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 5

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

tee (same style, different colors or similar) | pants (TTS) | Converse (size down a half)

My favorite tee (which I’m almost certain will be restocked in loads more colors in time for the Anniversary Sale — also very eager to try this one that Laura has been raving about) and red Converse, which always make me feel like a kiddo in the best way (size down a half).


The Elusive Pattern
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 6

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

blouse (old – see other print tops in the shopper below) | pants (TTS) | slingbacks (similar, sizes going fast, or love the buckle detail on these)

You won’t see me wearing boldly patterned tops very often unless there’s something especially interesting about them to really play up the drama. (Go big or go home.) Think along the lines of a special detail in the construction, like a floppy bow or an oversized sleeve. (You can’t see on this one, but the sides are inset with a contrasting pattern.) I’ve had this one for years. It’s tunic length, so long enough to knot — and this is an example where I removed the belt, too. When I was browsing around for a dupe, I found a handful of printed or patterned tops that checked all my boxes, so I’m linking ’em up below!


For The Clog Peeps
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 7

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

tank (similar TTS) | pants (TTS) | clogs (size up one full size)

I know there are a fair amount of you out there! This is another pair of shoes that instantly transports me to childhood. Hmmm, maybe it’s something to do with the red? Totally love the softness and volume of the paper bag waist against the structured clog. These particular clogs are from MIA and they fit smaller than my other MIA clogs (traditional slip-on), so order up a full size. I especially love wearing them with big flares or cropped wide-legs that just skim the ground.


Beach Vibes
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 8

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

cardigan (similar — with great reviews or affordable option) | bralette | pants (TTS) | sandals (TTS; or I love these)

Just for giggles I threw a light cashmere cardi over my Adella bralette to show what these might look like for a beach day. And wouldn’t ya know, these damn pants even look good casually cuffed. I’m telling you, friends – they can do no wrong.


Let’s Pretend Date Nights Are A Thing!
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 9

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

one-piece bathing suit (I sized up one for length) | pants (TTS) | heels (similar) | bag

This walks the line between another beach look (because technically this is a bathing suit) and a date night situation. Or maybe both, in a world where you could walk straight from the beach up to a sweet little seaside café. (I guess technically in some parts of the U.S. that’s a possibility. Just be safe, guys. And wear a mask!) Either way, I am downright smitten with this little look. It’s comfy and stretchy and summery and sexy while still feeling (somewhat) age-appropriate and just dang cute. My shoes are sold out, but these have a really similar look (and an even more walkable heel — on sale, too!). And this affordable little rattan bag continues to get action and feels both current and nostalgic — my fave combo.


Spring Sweater Situation
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 10

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

sweater (similar — affordable!) | pants (TTS) | slingbacks (similar, sizes going fast, or love the buckle detail on these)

Who doesn’t have a little gray sweater? This is the perfect weight for spring or early fall, and with slingbacks this could easily be an outfit for the office. I’d even layer an oversized blazer or a leather jacket on top to make it even cooler weather-friendly. (Whoa, my beloved ALLSAINTS jacket is still half-off, and it’s been restocked! Size up at least one size, two if you’re between sizes or broad shouldered. I’m typically a 0-2 and ordered the US4.)


Full-On Fall
Paper-Bag Waist Pants Outfit 11

Flattering. Wearable. The chambray paper-bag waist pants at J.Crew = the key to style from errands to work to vacation. 11 outfits ideas, inside.

sweater (similar here or an affordable option) | pants (TTS) | boots (past season; love these)

Just to really demonstrate the versatility of these guys, I paired them with my boldest (read: most challenging to style) fall boots and a plush cashmere sweater. We’re talking full-on fall mode, guys. With these particular booties, I liked the hem cuffed to show off the high shaft, but with my lower-shaft booties I might leave them at their full length. So many options. My boots are from last season, but if you’re in the market, this Madewell version has a similar leopard pattern (like Laura, I’m picky about these things…) and super-wearable styling — plus, they’re on sale.


Obviously I could have gone on and on styling these up with even more layers for the coming season, but I feel like you get the gist. These pants are good — they’ll quite possibly become one of the biggest workhorses in my closet. And even at full price, they’re under $100. That’s a solid garment, if you ask me. Let me know if you check them out, too!

Happy shopping, pals. Stay safe out there.
xo,
Em

Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!

3 COMMENTS

  1. So good! Obsessed with the Sporty Spice look. You just took me back with the pegging reference. It used to be an ART. Safety pins were involved if you really meant business. 😉

  2. Question! I just got these delivered and like them, but it feels like the crotch is reallly low…is that true for you as well? THX! These ideas are super helpful 😉

    • Hiya! I didn’t feel that way, but I was wearing mine right at my natural waist or a little above — just above my belly button. If they were larger in the waist and slunk down a little, I could see the crotch being lower. Perhaps a smaller size?

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