Reader Q: Unfussy Work Outfits That Can Transition To Kid Activities?


We often get requests for unfussy work outfits.  Outfits that are professional enough for the office, yet comfy enough to handle alllll of the kid schelpping after hours.  Sport practices, karate classes, playdates – we’re looking at you.  The latest request came from JeansGirl.  She wrote:

S–help on a style challenge!! Recently started a part time position where no blue jeans allowed—GULP – and nothing sleeveless. My go-tos are jeans and blazers, jeans and blouses, jeans and boots….yada yada yada. I don’t mind taking my gear up a notch for work – I’ve been going with dress pants and boots or high heel, but don’t want to have to leave the office to do the kid shuttle and wait at the sports practices, etc. in my dressy office garb every day. Need ideas for the in-between wardrobe that allows for a cool, classy, chic office vibe that is actually comfortable. HELP a girl out?!

There are so many ways to approach this, but for the sake of ease, I decided to focus on a pair of comfy black pants.  Wait!!  I know that sounds boring, but if you are trying to juggle both office and kid activities, a pair of black pants in some stretchy, ponte-like fabric is really hard to beat.


They’re virtually indestructible, for one.  I once fell/slid-on-my-knees down a flight on concrete stairs in a pair of black, ponte pants and….the pants were fine.  My knees?   Bruised and bloodied, but there wasn’t a scratch on the pants.

Secondly, they’re comfy – the best ones have a decent amount of stretch, and lastly….they’re still real pants.  We’re talking slim, almost like leggings, but more Audrey Hepburn than I Work Out.   Here are a few that caught my eye:

Comfy Black Pants For The Office



Now.  Below are a three easy ways to style black pants for the office….and for all of the weekday Momming around.

1. Comfy Pumps and a Moto Jacket

Pumps that are honestly comfy, as well as a moto jacket allow this outfit to easily transition to kid activities.  But the details are the key to keep this outfit from being a total snooze:

First of all, make sure the pants are cropped to the perfect Audrey Hepburn length.  I like mine a few inches above the ankle bone (like pictured below).  Secondly, a gray scarf layered over a gray sweater adds a luxe touch.  Lastly, menswear gold accents really pull everything together.

Outfit Details

sweater:  Equipment – these cashmere turtleneck sweaters are my FAVS.

pants: Banana Republic

jacket: Madewell – our readers LOVE this leather jacket

pumps: Naturalizer – actually comfortable, but the pointier toe keeps them sleek

scarf: similar from H&M

watchShinola – I have this one!  Named after the first female race car driver.  So cool.


2. Stripes, Obviously

A classic striped tee always works with black pants.  To modernize the look, I like this with white ankle boots, but black pumps (or booties) would also be a solid choice.

As an unexpected topper, try a dressy bomber jacket.  Just polished enough for the office, but street enough to not feel overly dressed-up at kid dance class.

Outfit Details

topJ.Crew – JCrew is always on point with stripes, but my very favorite striped top is the original, St. James.

pants: Banana Republic 

jacket: H&M – this outfit-making piece is under $25.

shoes: Vince – I just need to freaking order these already. LOVE.

3. Go Full On Audrey

Since we’re all about the Audrey Hepburn vibes, why not go full-out in a all-black (with turtleneck, swoon) outfit?  The trench coat was made for an outfit like this.  Add a bit on interest with patterned ballet flats and call it a day.

Outfit Details

sweater:  Equipment (size) – once again, my very favorite sweater.

pants: Banana Republic 

trench: J.Crew – do we need to do a trench coat roundup?  I’m on the hunt for a good one, and this one looks promising.

shoes: Sam Edelman – the reviews on these flats are glowing.


Hope this helps!!




  1. Trench coat round-up please! I’m looking to add a classic one with some slightly modern details (like a zipper on the sleeve or something).

      • Third! I’m looking for some that aren’t too heavy… some modern touches, different colors, etc. Some for areas where it doesn’t rain enough (CA).

        Great post, by the way. I love this one!

  2. Yes! We need more posts here for the 9-5 working mama hoofing it to daycare then the office everyday! Love these ideas and probably have 5-6 more…including bags that can handle the Mom life, the office life, the workout mid day, and the quick change for after!

    • I second this. Also, the bags need to accommodate a laptop for us working moms, not a tablet…I have to walk downtown with all my stuff so a backpack is preferred.

      • Yes please this – my current tote is kinda tired (of 3 yrs of hauling 15″ laptop around) but I can’t seem to find a good replacement.

        • My current one is actually from Lululemon! It’s a few years old but they continue to make a similar style – it has a laptop pouch and an “anti stink” pouch for gym clothes, as well as an easy hook for keys and two outer pockets that fit a Swell bottle and any random toy my daughter brings to daycare in the AM that I take so she won’t lose 🙂

  3. Thank you for this! I suspect that many of your readers work outside the house (it’s how we afford our clothes, shopping enabler!) and we need ideas beyond jeans and slouchy sweaters. Thank you!

  4. Love all of these ideas! I have a pair of ponte pants (cropped above the ankle) that I wear with EVERYTHING. So versatile. I just recently discovered these pants from Athleta (they’re made from Tencel, which i don’t actually know what it is, but seems similar to ponte to me) that I’m obsessed with. I’ve worn them with the Vanguard top from Luxe and leopard heels and with sneakers and a hoodie. They’re pretty much the perfect pant and are definitely a good spin on this classic!

  5. All of these outfits are great! I’m on the hunt for the perfect pair of black pants, so I’m definitely checking out your suggestions!

  6. Loft also has some great work and play pants — slimmer fit but not leggings, perfect ankle length, tailored but not super dressy. I have a black pair and recently got an oxblood colored pair. Equally cute with flats or ankle boots, easy to dress down as well with nice sneakers and a more casual top.

  7. I would also love to see more posts like this. I’ve recently gone back to work after being at home with the kids for nine years. I have chatted with Laura about this already. I can wear jeans to the office but still need to look put together. And still do all the running of kids everywhere after work too. While I love the ripped jeans and slouchy sweaters and graphic tees too – a lot of us need to step it up five days a week too. Thanks again. More please! Oh and yes, include bags too!

  8. This was a great post! I often used to keep casual shoes in the car to help make the switch from work to kiddo activities. I also made it a habit of dressing up tshirts- graphic or otherwise with blazers, cardigans, jackets or jewelry so that I could make quick switches and move from one ‘job’ to the next.

  9. Uniqlo has great ankle length pants for work. But leave the heels in the office. Choose flats or a pair of cool sneakers for commuting and running around. No one cares what shoes you wear to commute in and nothing looks sillier than someone trying to run around in high heels.

  10. Gap’s Sculpt high-rise legging has become one of my go-tos for a machine-washable pant that I can still wear to work but don’t have to worry about getting filthy or looking too fancy at after-school stuff. They’re not really leggings–they have a front zip and button, plus belt loops so they look like actual pants and are slim but not super fitted. I’m a lawyer at a firm so I usually need to be a bit more on the business side of business casual, but these are perfect with pretty much everything–a jacket, a dressier sweater, or oversized button-down. And the charcoal ponte version is now $35!

  11. I loved this post! I am pretty sure I wear a pair of black skinny cropped trousers to work probably 2 or 3 days per week. Also, I would be interested in seeing a trench roundup, as well. I recently purchased one from the Gap with elasticized wrists (with the intention of removing the elastic). It’s lightweight, made out tencel (love this material) but would be keen to see other options anyway. Thank you!

  12. Love this post and great pairings! I also love the slim ankle pants from Ann Taylor. Good cut and curvy fit for those of us with more pear shaped bods. I also would love to see your trenchcoat picks. I find it hard to find lighter, more modern takes on trench coats.

  13. If you are in a budget pinch, the ankle Pixie pant from Old Navy can stand in for these looks.
    I picked up a pair on sale and I’m still wearing them several years later. I loved every thing about this post. THANK YOU! One question… Any qualms on the navy stripe T with black pants?

  14. I recently splurged and bought a pair of black cropped work pants from Vince. Best thing I ever did! Every time I wear them, someone asks me if I lost weight. Magic, I tell you! Also, yes on the trench coat roundup!!

  15. Thank you, Thank you for this post. I have just started working again and my new position is NO JEANS. That was all I wore at my last job and this change is killing me in both the comfort and style department. I need more posts like this with a no jeans pulled together yet modern and casual at the same time look.

  16. +1 Keep ideas for work outfits coming!

    Could also use suggestions for low heal booties that work well with tights for work.

  17. Thank you, thank you S! This was fantastic! I already own two of the BR pants that have been on rerotation, I am FOR SURE investing in a trench (roundup, yes please!), and I was on the fence on the white DV Mazey boots, but now I think they are a MUST. Lastly…the Shinola is going on my Mother’s Day wishlist! You’re the best.

  18. This post is exactly why I love this site. Please do more posts for those of us who work outside the home then pick up the kids and have to make dinner, go to scouts and soccer etc – all in one outfit. Thank you!!!

  19. I agree with everybody else, this is a great post for those of us that need work clothes ideas!!! And I agree with Scotti, the Express pants are THE BEST for work pants. That’s pretty much all I’ve worn for the past 20 or so years. 🙂 And now they have fabulous stretchy fabric that is so comfy.

  20. Love the office-friendly post! I’ve recently been eyeing lots of pieces on The Real Real’s website: they have many pretty blouses, dresses, pants, etc that would be work friendly. It’s also a more affordable way to try some of the more expensive brands (Theory, Equipment, Joie, Vince, etc) since everything is second hand. Some things are still investment pieces for sure, but it’s a fun way to add a few high quality pieces on a teacher’s salary.

  21. For those in search of a laptop/work bag – I am on my second Kailo Chic bag. Has lots of compartments for all the Stuff you need, and comes in super fun patterns. I commute by train with laptop, workout clothing, lunch, etc etc. Has metal feet to keep from getting the bottom dirty, zippered top, coated fabric that’s easy to clean, nice long handles, and this cool feature that lets you slide it over a suitcase handle when needed.

  22. Thank you so much for this! I especially love that you’ve included a pair of flats! Can you add more flat shoe options (pretty please!)? 1+mile walk to train + train + Boston cobblestones = death on heels, and I’m so over carrying work shoes in my bag. Would LOVE to see some more suggestions for flats!

  23. It’s funny- bloggers also put a trench coat as part of a work “outfit.” But you take it off as soon as you get to work. An all black outfit isn’t bad, but you’re not going to have the tan as part of the look.

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