Saturday, December 29, 2007


Mamacita was looking for some relatively inexpensive wool trousers for Papi Chulo (thinking that Papi Chulo could use some pants for work that were dressier and less likely to get horribly rumpled than the chinos that he has been wearing), and for some reason, she actually thought that I might have some good ideas. The first thing that I suggested were the Kirkland Signature wool trousers from Costco. Yes, from Costco. I had read good things about them online, Costco has a good track record for offering good value products under their Kirkland Signature label, and trips to Costco are always amusing if nothing else; so why not check them out? Alas, my friendly neighborhood Costco didn't have any; and from the online listing of them, it looks like they've been discontinued. So the question remains, where can one find decent wool trousers for not outrageous sums of money? Well, here are some possibilities:
  • Lands' End Year 'Rounder trousers -- Generally speaking, Lands' End offers decent basic clothing. I have not seen these trousers in a number of years, but the last time I did, my principal complaint with them was the presence of topstitching along the outer side seams. Use of the Zoom feature on the Lands' End website leads me to believe that they have done away with this stitching, which would be a very good thing, but I can't be sure. I'm pretty sure, however, that these trousers are a good value at $60 a pair, although the tax and Lands' End's outrageous shipping charges reduce the value proposition considerably.
  • LL Bean Washable Year-Round Wool Trousers -- Just as most of the merchandise offered by LL Bean is similar to merchandise offered by Lands' End, so too do these trousers appear very similar to the comparable Lands' End trousers discussed above. The principal differences appear to be the price ($69 a pair for these, rather than $60 a pair for the Lands' End ones) and the fact that these trousers are supposedly washable and wrinkle-resistant. I would be hesitant to wash wool because it has the tendency to pill and shrink, and I have never been a fan of wrinkle-resistant coatings on clothing. Such coatings tend to decrease the sensual pleasure of the fabric, and they tend to wear off. But I know that others feel very differently about them. The uninspiring picture above is of these trousers.
  • JC Penny Stafford 100% Wool Dress Trousers --I have never examined them closely, but I have read in several places that JC Penny's Stafford line of dress clothing is relatively well-constructed and offers good value. These trousers are marked down to $40 a pair from $80, and they may be worth taking a flier on. The principal down side is that they appear to come only with pleats, which may not be what Mamacita is looking for for Papi Chulo.
  • Jos. A. Bank Traveler Plain Front Trousers -- Jos. A. Bank stores have been popping up all over the place over the past 15 or so years as an alternative to department stores for men's tailored clothing. The level of quality and the prices available are pretty much the same, but not having to go to Dillard's or Macy's to buy a suit has been a winning proposition for a lot of men. In the past couple of years, Bank has started to take the permasale approach to marketing: everything in the store is almost always on "sale", so the retail prices listed don't have much meaning. These trousers are currently "marked down" to $68 a pair, which is probably about what they're worth. They are mostly wool with a touch of Lycra, which can reduce the fabric's tendency to wrinkle without resorting to the spray-on coatings that the LL Bean trousers do. One of the problems with clothing purchased from Bank is that you have to pay extra for the trousers to be hemmed, which means that the real cost of these trousers is actually $78 a pair.
Were it me, I would probably start with the Lands' End trousers and work my way through the others in order if they didn't fit properly. The only unequivocal advice that I would give is that she should eschew trousers that have a substantial amount of polyester in them. Wool breathes. Polyester doesn't. And wool blended with polyester has more tendency to pill than 100% wool, all other things being equal. But Mamacita rarely listens to me.


mamacita said...

Not true! I listen to you, I just ignore the advice. For example, I hear your suggestion of Lands' End, but since Papi got a whole pile of ugly clothes from Penney's that needs to be returned, we will probably start there. Q: is there a place to take the trousers to be hemmed that is closer to our house than Penney's?

Soletrain said...

Well, for something as simple as trouser hemming, a lot of dry cleaners would work.