Finding the perfect pair of black work pants is a tricky task, as the trouser world is a daunting space to navigate with so many different styles out there. What’s more, sizing varies between brands. Yet, a chic pair of trousers offers such a great value as a workwear staple and an alternative to knee- and midi-length dresses and skirts. And, upon finding the right pair for you, you'll find they go with everything from flatforms to boots and button-downs to turtlenecks.
With a number of wide-leg trousers that will see you from day to night, trendy straight-leg iterations, and edgy faux leather pants on offer, we combed through the internet to find the best options for those heading back to the IRL office and updating their workwear wardrobe.
Read on for Byrdie’s guide to the best black work pants available now, as well as key insights from our expert trend forecaster Kendall Becker.
Meet the Expert
Kendall Becker is a freelance trend forecaster and fashion writer.
Best Overall: & Other Stories Wide Press Crease Trousers in Black
An avid wearer of the color black, Becker says that wide-leg pants are a must for her to maintain comfort in warmer months. “I love how this pair fits around the waist but [that] the legs are relaxed," she says. "Plus, the pressed crease is so chic.”
Price at time of publish: $79
Material: 84% polyester, 8% rayon, 7% wool, 1% spandex | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: 0-12
Best Budget: Mango Crop Skinny Pants in Black
You can’t go wrong with a cropped skinny pair of work pants, especially when they're affordably priced. One such style is this pair from Mango. They’re made from recycled polyester and cut for a mid-rise. Plus, they contain a percentage of elastane, so they stretch for your comfort.
Material: 40% polyester, 34% recycled polyester, 19% viscose, and 7% elastane | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: 1-22
Best Splurge: Matteau Pleated Wide-Leg Pants in Black
Matteau's pants have the best of everything: a versatile mid-rise, soft pleats at the front, and a breezy wide-leg shape. They've also been made locally to the brand in Australia from a linen blend enhanced with stretch for maximum comfort. The only downside is that they’re a bit of a splurge. However, given their sublime qualities, they could be worth the investment.
Price at time of publish: $640 for Black
Material: 63% linen, 34% Tencel lyocell, 3% elastane | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: 1-5
Best Size Range: Universal Standard All Day Cigarette Pants
Meet the polished pants style that's made for everyone. Tailored in a cigarette pant silhouette, it's made to keep you looking fresh from your desk to dinner plans, according to the brand. Technically speaking, it's crafted from a twill-like fabric that's super light and resilient, making it an easy option for everyday movement, commuting, and wearing right out of your suitcase when traveling. Design details include an elasticated waistband, deep slash front pockets, welt back pockets, and shaping darts at the back.
Price at time of publish: $178
Material: Contains recycled content and stretch | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: 4XS-4XL
Best Sustainable: Filippa K Luisa Cool Wool Trouser in Black
Straight-leg trousers combine polish with comfort—what could be better? Well, this pair from Filippa K has sustainable properties, like mulesing-free wool. (For context, mulesing is a sourcing process that involves cutting skin from the backside of an animal without pain relief.) The brand generally offers transparency of its manufacturing processes, including details like vendors’ addresses and the number of people who work in the facilities, on the product pages.
Material: 98% wool, 2% elastane | Care: Dry clean | Size Range: 32-42
Best Fashion-Forward: Undra Celeste The Robert Trouser
For a more fashion-forward approach to suiting and workwear, look to Undra Celeste. The brand's Robert trouser is a feminine take on a menswear-inspired pant, with features such as a defined waist and pleated details for a curvy shape.
Price at time of publish: $355
Material: Wool blend | Care: Dry clean only | Size Range: S-XL
Best Cropped: Eileen Fisher System Slim Ankle Pants in Black
Cropped pants excel at keeping you comfortable without bogging you down with heavy fabric or long lines. Eileen Fisher has nailed the silhouette with this particular design, which is cut from a stretchy material that ends at the ankle. The style is also pretty size-inclusive, as it comes in petite and extended sizes.
Price at time of publish: $168
Material: 70% viscose, 24% nylon, 6% spandex | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: PXS-PL, XXS-XXL, 1-3X
Best Leather: Tove Studio Emma Leather Trouser
Leather lovers will go gaga for the Emma trouser from Tove, a pleated silhouette with relaxed proportions. The straight-leg style is soft at the ankle, with a small pleat at the waist for subtle definition.
Price at time of publish: $935
Material: 100% leather | Care: Dry clean only | Size Range: FR 34-42
Best Pleated: The Sei Pleat Trouser in Black
Becker says she loves this style for its defining feature. “There’s nothing more classic than a front pleat," she explains. "And, these are the perfect straight-leg [pants]: not too skinny and not too wide.”
Price at time of publish: $437
Material: 90% viscose, 10% polyester | Care: Dry clean | Size Range: 0-10
Best Wide-Leg: Totême Wool Wide-Leg Trousers in Black
Per the pandemic-driven focus on sartorial comfort, wide-leg trousers are among the most fashionable workwear items right now. Totême's black high-rise iteration is crafted from wool and complemented by front and back pockets and raised top seams for a super sleek appeal.
Material: 100% wool | Care: Hand wash | Size Range: 0-10
Best High-Rise: Everlane The Way-High Drape Pant in Black
These relaxed, ultra-high-waisted work pants are not only versatile, but they’re also petite- and plus-size friendly. In terms of details, they boast two handy side pockets, two front pleats, and a wide-leg cut.
Price at time of publish: $118
Material: 60% Lyocell, 40% cotton | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: 00-18, 30- and 32-inch inseam
Best Slim: COS Tailored Wool Trousers in Black
These slim trousers from COS are crafted from pure wool with a suiting finish. Like many classic cuts, they feature flattering pressed creases, which are meant to elongate the body. Other details include adjustable buckle-fastening waist tabs and angled front pockets.
Material: 100% wool | Care: Dry clean | Size Range: 2-14
Best Affordable Wide-Leg: Good American The Boss Trousers 2.0
Should you buy these sleek, soft-to-the-touch, wide-leg trousers, they're sure to be among your new favorite wardrobe pieces. The high-rise style can be worn from day to night and paired with The Boss Blazer 2.0 to complete the look.
Price at time of publish: $155 for Black
Material: 57% cotton, 39% nylon, 4% elastane | Care: Dry clean | Size Range: 00-30
Best Slit-Hem: & Other Stories Front Slit Trousers in Black
According to Becker, this is a worthy pair to have in your rotation for a good amount of comfort and a subtle flair. “The stretch fabric and waist will keep you comfortable sitting at your desk, and the front slit hem is a great way to show off your shoes," she explains.
Material: 57% rayon, 35% polyamide, and 8% spandex | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: 0-12
Best Pull-On: St. Agni Rib Knit Pant in Black
A knit material might not be the first thing you think of when picturing a perfect pair of work pants, but hear us out. St. Agni is known for reimagining workwear through a fresh lens. In linen, silk, and eco-friendly Tencel, these pants marry great quality with soft tailoring for comfort, newfangled professionalism, and versatility—and are ideal for the days when slipping into a pair of pants that button seems unfathomable.
Price at time of publish: $267
Material: 89% Tencel lyocell, 11% nylon | Care: Hand wash; lay flat to dry | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Faux Leather: Nanushka Vinni Vegan Leather Pants in Black
These Nanushka pants are made from the brand's signature vegan leather that's exceptionally soft and comfortable to wear. They’re cut for a cropped, straight leg and sit high on the waist, so they look chic with easy slides, sleek mules, and chunky sneakers alike.
Material: 65% polyester, 35% polyurethane | Care: Machine wash warm; do not tumble dry | Size Range: XXS-XL
What to Look for in a Pair of Black Work Pants
Fit and style
As with jeans, work pants (trousers) come in many shapes, like skinny, wide-leg, and straight-leg. If you’re shopping for your first pair, think about the silhouettes you feel most comfortable in and try on those first, just in trouser form. From there, you can explore different styles. Since work pants are not made from a stiff material like denim, they’ll hang differently on the body, so it may be worth expanding your horizons.
The right material
On that note, there is an assortment of materials that designers use to craft a pair of black trousers. Each suits the wearer’s needs differently. For example, linen is lightweight and somewhat casual, so while it’s wonderful for warm weather, it won’t necessarily make sense for some professional environments. By contrast, wool works well for summer, while synthetics like viscose, nylon, and polyester sit somewhere in the middle, boasting moisture-wicking properties that serve well in a warm climate and possess the ability to keep you comfortable in mild to cool temperatures.
Are work pants the same as slacks?
For the most part, yes. However, there are other, more utilitarian-designed pants (not slacks) that qualify as work pants as well.
Can you put work pants in the dryer?
This depends on the care instructions for your pants. Read them for the best advice on how to care for them.
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing chic and practical pieces with long-term wearability. After hours of researching and chatting with our experts, she’s gathered enough insight to determine which black work pants are the best to buy right now.