For women with tough physical jobs, these rugged work pants will stand up to jobs like carpentry, landscaping, farming, and ranching.
Women in hands-on industries often turn to men’s workwear to get by. But the landscape of women’s workwear is quickly changing, and with that, choice follows.
As both a horsewoman and an outdoorswoman, I find myself grabbing durable gear more often than most. I tested a wide swath of pants over a 6-month period, and I beat the heck out of them in the process. Between horseback riding and general mayhem, these pants passed the test.
These are the best women’s work pants on the market now.
The Best Work Pants for Women
Best Overall: Dovetail Maven Slim ($99)
I. Am. Obsessed. The Dovetail Maven Slims are not just the best overall work pants of all that I tried, they’re also my favorite pants, period. The fit is high-waisted and ridiculously flattering. There’s a little stretch, but not too much to be flimsy. And it’s a pant made for many women’s bodies, with a wide range of sizing available in 000 to 18.
I followed Dovetail employees’ advice and ordered a bit small. I second-guessed them the first few times I wore the pants (it wasn’t a comfortable break-in period). But after a few months of use, they fit perfectly and show zero wear.
The silhouette is also my favorite of the bunch. It’s a true boot cut, so I can wear them over my cowboy boots easily. But I can also tuck them into boots without extra bulk. These are well worth the $99 expense. I foresee them being a part of my wardrobe for the remainder of my time on this planet.
Runner-Up: Carhartt Series 1889 Slim Double Front Dungaree ($55)
For about half the price, you can get another great pair of slimmer-fitting work pants that hold true to Carhartt’s time-honored tradition of excellence in workwear. I’m a fan of the old-school Carhartt brown, and I love the durable yet forgiving feel of these pants. Right out of the gate, they felt comfy and broken-in.
Sizing in this particular pant runs from 2 to 12, but Carhartt does offer plus-size options in the similar Straight Fit Twill Double Front pant. The only downside with Carhartt is that the brand’s lengths tend to run a bit short. My inseam is a hard 32 inches, and these fell way shorter than that, even in the regular-length pant. I’d suggest going one length longer. Otherwise, they’re true to size.
Most Comfortable Women’s Work Pants: Filson Canvas Straight-Leg Pants ($150)
Can workwear be classy? Filson thinks so. And it shows in these pants. They’re, like, really nice. Too nice, maybe? I don’t even want to get them dirty or rough them up. That’s slightly problematic with work pants.
The fit in these is on par with the Maven fit but more comfortable from the get-go. Sizes run from 2-18. The waist is higher-cut and flattering, and the stovepipe pant leg is fashionable if not as functional as a slimmer, boot-cut leg tends to be for utility’s sake.
And the length is great. Pair them with a classic boot like the Blundstone Heeled Boot and a cute sweater. Then, wear them to dinner and order a big ol’ burger with a glass of 2014 Francois Raveneau Chablis Les Forets.
Best Budget Pants: Dickies Stretch Double-Front Duck Carpenter Pants ($35)
These are the only pant in the bunch that I haven’t personally tried, but the price tag is certainly right, and reviewers tend to like these pants a lot.
One reviewer described them as “super great pants and a great value for the price.” Another said, “These pants are seriously awesome. Tool pockets on both sides of the legs, double paneled fabric in the front for all the wear and tear of the job, and they stretch well when you bend.”
The biggest gripe for folks tends to be sizing. The waist tends to be big, and the length tends to be long. Keep this in mind. Although personally, I’d rather a pant be too long than too short. Sizes run from 2 to 16, with plus options from 16 to 24.
Favorite Women’s Overalls: Liberty Duck Bib Overalls ($45)
New from Liberty, these duck bib overalls are the bee’s knees. I don’t usually wear overalls, as they tend to either be way too tight or giant and unwieldy.
Thankfully, Liberty found a balance. These bibs are flattering and durable without being bulky, and there was clearly some thought put into the cut. A wide range of sizing covers many, with S-2XL available. I wear these over leggings and sweaters to keep my gear clean at the barn, and on cold days, they provide a great layer against the sharp Montana wind.
Best Legging: Carhartt Force Lightweight Utility Legging ($50)
Carhartt offers two types of leggings, the Lightweight Utility and the Carhartt Force Utility. Out of these two, the Lightweight Utility is an everyday staple. It has enough pockets to be helpful, and it wears like a yoga pant. I can scram for a two-hour ride on my horse, then hit up a quick hike, and follow it with a couch lounge and be totally comfortable. Again, these run a bit short, and they’re available is size XS-2XL.
I did try the Force Utility as well, but I’m not sure Carhartt has nailed this design yet. The fit was a little funky. And I had issues with seams ripping, as some of the material has no give, but I like the idea of a more durable legging. If you’re looking to buy, I’d hold off on these until they update. However, Carhartt does offer these in plus options from 1X to 3X, which is the only legging I found in that size range.
Best Women’s Work Jeans: Wrangler Cowboy Cut Slim Fit Jean ($39)
I’ve worn Wrangler Cowboy Cut Jeans since I was a preteen running around the local barn with a pitchfork in one hand and a saddle in the other. Like Dovetail, these take a hot minute to break in, but they last for-freakin’-ever.
The thick cotton denim is a serious workhorse, and it’s available in sizes 00 to 15 and a ton of lengths. With mom jeans in style, you can ooh and aah over the way the classic Wrangler pockets sit on your booty and tuck at the waist.
Wrangler produces a bevy of hardworking jeans for working and horse folk, but these are by far the most enduring. They do run small, and they always have. Order one or two sizes bigger, and try on in a store if you can.
Best Work Shorts: Dovetail Maven Slim Work Short ($65)
I don’t wear shorts, but if I did, it’d be these. Shorts seemed to be a far-and-wide option in the workwear section, so by default, Dovetail gains a corner on the market with their Maven Slim Work Short, offered in sizes 00 to 18.
If you prefer wearing shorts, then here’s a less-pricey-than-Dovetail-pants option with the same badass fit.
Have a favorite pair of work pants we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.
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