If I could go back to the birth of my journey towards a thoughtful closet, the path would surely take us to the fall of 2016 and this pair of pants. The Caron Callahan Ellis pants.
I remember confiding in my cousin's very stylish girlfriend on the eve of my wedding — telling her about the magical pair of Caron Callahan pants I was wearing at the moment, how I'd balked at the price — they were the most expensive article of clothing I'd ever bought for myself (I'm not counting the wedding dress in this calculation, lol, thanks dad) but I felt so at ease wearing them. Like I'd finally found something special and very ME.
I hadn't told anyone else about the pants. I mean aside from wearing them in the world. I hadn't told anyone what a big deal they were to me. Even purchased at a discount, they were still north of $200 and a really really big investment for my closet. That night, I felt like I was finally confessing to someone who might understand and thus I felt a sparkling mix of relief and excitement.
My next big investment was my camel-colored block heel ankle boots. From there it grew and I found myself becoming more and more thoughtful about what I actually wanted to wear and how I wanted to present myself to the world.
Now I largely avoid fast fashion first-hand, preferring instead to collect garments from independent designers and smaller brands who show more transparency into their processes. It's thrilling to me to be able to wear things that reflect more of my own individuality instead of what everyone else picks up at the mall. If there's one thing that has been consistent about me over my whole life, it's that I can't stand doing what other people are doing, for better or for worse. Finding a new wardrobe world open before me, I have never felt more at ease in my clothes than I do now.
When people talk about clothing as an investment, it's not like your clothes are going to appreciate in value like stocks in a healthy market. Unless you've got some incredible/rare/famous/antique/notable garment, I'm struggling to think of what actually goes UP in value after you buy it and wear it. Maybe "investment" pieces maintain their value well or at least depreciate slower than fast fashion items would, but you probably can't build a career on Wall Street with a pair of pants (please prove me wrong).
To me, the investment in these pants was one into my sense of style. And I love these pants dearly.
It's a weird thing to admit that when you do your best to remain detached from keeping too many material things. Already I live in a constant state of paralysis between the desire to purge all the rest of the fussy junk from my life and not being able to muster the courage to really throw out every single extra twist tie in the kitchen drawer. Ugh, you swear you'll never be that person with a junk drawer and then you slowly get a junk drawer.
Nonetheless. I had to have them. I window shopped them online for months before they went on sale or I got a promo code, I can't remember which came first. They are really different and striking and look amazing with a fitted, scoop back top. If I had to have a uniform it would be some variation of this pants and top. My pink sweater/wide leg jean look from last week (Wednesday, Februrary 28) is one such winter variation.
I think I'm waxing on about these pants because I haven't worn them in months and I really kind of miss them. They are a decidedly spring/summer/fall pant and look best with a ballet flat or heel as opposed to a boot because of the cropped length. With Winter Part II that blew back in this week, they feel like a distant memory. Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold + exposed feet.
The Ellis pants have a delightfully dropped crotch. It's almost like CC started out making these pants a skirt then was like, no no, we'll do pants, really big pants. It gives them a swish sound as you walk, your bottom half basically two big triangle shapes. And for all of us who have ever suffered through the dreaded Tight Jeans Crotch, it's a downright revelation. Do not dismiss the dropped crotch for it's perceived weirdness. Embrace it for it's comfort and avant-garde style.
The fabric of these pants is a heavy, textured cotton that feels almost like canvas, but they are still light and crisp. Heavy in drape, but deceptively light in actual weight. It's a bizzare combo but it works. The pants retain their structure all the way to the generous hem. The silhouette is slim and fitted in the waist with darts and an invisible back zip, then it widens gracefully to maximum flare somewhere mid-calf. The tag said dryclean only but I washed them delicate on cold and hung to dry. They're fine.
They were billed as black but are actually a deep charcoal. As someone who is on a never-ending quest to find the ultimate black pants (they don't exist to my knowledge) I am always tempted by trying a new black pant. But a more faded black as seen here kind of suits the warmer months better than a true black does, to be honest. It's less harsh and shows less cat hair, both wins in my book. Plus, I really like the faded black pants + true black top look. It's like a less abrasive color-blocking. Raise your hand if you don't give a fuck about matching all your blacks.
I first bought these in a S but then traded for a M. They are really slim in the waist, and unforgiving on stretch. But what I find to be true of these that is not true with many other tight, high-waisted pants is that because they don't have a delineated waistband (which can be constricting), the fit is evenly snug through the midriff in such a way that doesn't cut into you when you bend or sit.
The wide leg keeps things breezy in the southern heat. The crop shows a lovely amount of ankle and calf, which you could emphasize with an open top shoe. I love wearing these with my Everlane day heels to give a casual look a creative spin. I think the look I'm sharing in the photos is a perfect example of why a pretty, neutral shoe is the perfect foundation for basically everything.
The only other Caron Callahan piece I own is my wide leg Stewart jeans, which have been getting pretty consistent wear this winter. They are like the heavy-duty corollary to these Ellis pants yet they don't quite have the same effortlessness I long for. I look forward — oh how I so look forward — to warmer weather and the opportunity to dust off my Ellis pants.
Do you find that you have a gateway garment? Something that flipped the switch and made you start thinking about dressing in a different way? I love a good origin story. Tell me yours?