Dressing Like an Adult: Comparing Pants Instagram Sold Me
For most of my life, the bottom half of my body has been covered almost exclusively in denim. Specifically, except for the years when I had to wear a suit to work, I’d be seen in long jeans as I rarely ever wear shorts (although I did cave and wear some in Florida a couple of summers ago). However, when I looked at my wardrobe a few months ago, I decided it was perhaps time for a bit of an upgrade.
You won’t believe this but, once I had it in my mind that I was in the market for some new pants, Instagram began serving me with almost nothing but pants ads! After making notes about a few different options I saw, I had my wife compile a list of her potential favorites — and then earmarked some funds from a banking bonus I earned to go ahead and buy several pairs of pants from some of these brands.
Now, five months later, I’m ready to share my thoughts on these slacks — including the pros and cons of each, which pair were my favorites, and which brands I think offer the best value overall. Let’s go!
Comparing Four Different Men’s Pants Brands
- Model: ABC Pant Slim Warpstreme 32″L – 30″ waist
- Total cost: $138.37
- Date ordered: 6/17 (purchased in store)
- Date arrived: N/A
- Best feature: Unique material
- Least favorite feature: The fly zipper
In this pants-wearing experiment, the Lululemon ABC Pants (Warpstreme) could really be considered the “control.” Rather than being a brand I purchased because of Instagram, I purchased a pair because it’s the brand that all of the other ads compared themselves to. As luck would have it, a Lulu store also happened to open at my local mall not too long ago, allowing me to go try them on and bring a pair home.
I’ll just say off the bat: I understand the hype. These slim pants look sharp and feel fantastic. And, even though the pants they had in store were a 32″ length by default, I don’t even think they’re too long on little 5′ 5″ me.
Like all of the pairs we’ll be looking at today, the ABC Pants have an anti-crushing crotch design (at least that’s how I’ll be stating it). In short, rather than having a seam in the middle of the crotch, there’s an extra piece of fabric that then attaches to the inner thigh. The result is that the pants don’t hike up in this area, preventing potential pain. While it may sound gimmicky, I have to say it does actually work — and that’s true of all the pants on this list.
If there’s anything I don’t like about the Lulus it’s that the zipper on the fly is only okay. Yeah, it works… but it doesn’t quite feel as premium as the rest of the pants. But, speaking of zippers, the zippered bonus pocket on the back right is a nice touch.
Actually, another minor negative is that the pants can cling a bit in hot and muggy weather. Then again, that’s kind of on me for wearing pants in such conditions — but, again, I’m not a big shorts guy.
Lastly, one note on my color choice: while I love the way the Bone pants look, boy is wearing light-colored slacks dangerous. So, if I had to do it again, I’d probably pick a different, more forgiving shade.
- Model: Stretch Khaki – Phil Gates (with liner) – 30 waist, 28 length
- Total cost: $118
- Date ordered: 6/18
- Date arrived: 6/28
- Best feature: The liner
- Least favorite feature: The marketing (I’ll explain)
When my wife first visited the Birddogs site, she immediately said that they needed to be a part of my comparison. That’s not only because she liked the look of the pants themselves (including a unique aspect we’ll get to in a moment) but also because of the humor displayed in their branding.
Part of that branding is the fact that their different color options all have names that parody famous people for some reason. For example, my blue Stretch Khakis are actually called the Phil Gates. Personally, I’d rather just have normal color names, but I’m no stick in the mud so whatever.
Truth be told, despite getting the same waist size here as I did the others, the first time I put on the Birdogs, I was a bit worried about how tight they were. Thankfully, after washing them, I didn’t have any issues. Then again, I also lost a few pounds around this time, so I’m sure that didn’t hurt.
Speaking of the waist, though, I love the way the Birddogs button. The exterior button has a little slide, with a larger hole that narrows as it goes to the right. Then, inside, there’s a pin that slides into that slot. I’m describing this terribly, but it’s pretty good. Well, except for if the button gets turned around, in which case you may fail to button up a few times before you notice the issue and correct it.
Another feature I love is the hidden zipper pockets on the side. I found that this was actually perfect for holding my hotel key on a recent trip.
Of the pants I purchased, the Birddogs feel the closest to what I think of when I hear “chino” or “khaki.” This is to say that the fabric is much stiffer and less smooth than the others. This isn’t a bad thing, but they do stand out from the bunch in terms of what I chose.
Something else that makes the Birddogs stand out is their built-in liner option. Basically, if you wanted to, you could use this liner as built-in underwear for your pants. I’ll admit that I did do this once and it was pretty nice. On the other hand, I feel like you’d probably want to wash the pants after doing so, whereas I prefer to wear my slacks for at least a couple of days. Luckily, I still like the liner (including the color) even if it’s redundant with regular underwear.
So now for the weird part. As I mentioned in my recap bullets, my least favorite aspect of the Birddogs is the marketing. Well, while my wife and I thought the site was fun, there are some other aspects that go a bit far. For example, the box the pants came in was covered in quotes — many of which were varying levels of inappropriate. This is to say that some just had immature humor, while others used the “c” word. While I wasn’t exactly offended by this, I just thought it was kind of dumb. Similarly, whenever I get an email from Birddogs, it’s clear that I just don’t understand the brand.
Setting that aside, I do love the pants I purchased. Next time around, I’d probably go for the 30″ length rather than the 28″ just so I have a bit more coverage (the 28″ do look great with my sock-free Suavs Zilkers though).
- Model: Jetsetter Pants (two pairs – one 30″/28″ and one 30″/30″)
- Total cost: $190.36 (two pairs of pants + Anytime Tee)
- Date ordered: 6/18
- Date arrived: 6/21
- Best feature: Zipper pockets
- Least favorite feature: Stretch folds on the waistband
When I ordered my Jack Archer pants, they had a deal where I could buy two pairs of Jetsetter pants for 40% off and get an Anytime Tee for free. So, I decided to mix it up a bit by getting one pair of pants with a 28″ length and another pair at 30″. Just like with the Birddogs, I think I’d stick with 30″ in the future, but the 28″ does have a style to it as well.
Comparing these to the Lulus, I will say that the Jetsetters are far more moisture-wicking. This means that, even in that muggy weather I spoke of, they still felt comfortable. Elsewhere, while the fly zipper is my least favorite part of the Lulus, it may actually be one of my favorite aspects of the Jack Archers. Not only does it work well but the clever design that puts an angle in the zipper pull is surprisingly effective. It’s hard to describe and I sure as heck am not going to take a close-up of it — but trust me it’s awesome. Also, for as much as I enjoyed the zippered secret pocket on the ABC Pants, the fact that the Jack Archers have multiple zippered pockets makes them even better.
Jack Archer also gets bonus points for the fast shipping — arriving at my door just three days after I placed my order. I have nothing else to say on this point other than near-instant gratification makes me happy.
In terms of downsides, around the waist of the pants, there are a couple of spots that bunch up. This is to allow the pants to stretch (which is great), but I don’t love the way it looks. I suppose this is mostly moot since the waist is typically covered, but this is one thing I think could be improved.
Before I reach my conclusion on the pants, I do want to give a shout-out to the Anytime Tee. I absolutely love this thing. Even though I was forced to get a medium instead of a small because of the color I wanted, this unique-feeling shirt feels and looks awesome on me. In my opinion, this is just another reason to spring for the bundle if you can.
Incidentally, I recently wore my Jetsetters on a 15.5-hour flight (plus two other flights on either side of that) and was really pleased with the experience. As promised, they didn’t crush at all even as I squirmed in my tiny airplane seat. They also managed to wick away water quite well after I accidentally spilled a bit on myself. They also packed well as my other pair had no wrinkles to speak of when I arrived at my destination.
For all of those reasons, I give Jack Archer high marks.
- Model: All Day Performance Chino – Slim Fit (30″x30″ Short)
- Total cost: $83 (with a pair of joggers)
- Date ordered: 6/18
- Date arrived: 6/30
- Best feature: Solid for the price
- Least favorite feature: Slightly baggy despite correct sizing
Let me mention upfront that, as I discovered, Aha Selected ships its items directly from China. Because of this, the arrival time was far longer than the others (although the Birdogs were only slightly ahead). Plus, all along the way, they sent me several text messages that were apparently supposed to be updates on my order… even when nothing new had happened. Honestly, this got a bit annoying so you might want to opt out of this if you do place an order.
Looking at Aha’s site, I was a little worried about how “painted on” their pants looked in some of the photos. Yet, when they arrived, that was definitely not the case. In fact, if anything, I’d say they’re a bit baggy. This isn’t to say that they’re falling off or that I look like I have Hammer Pants on — but I don’t feel like they look as sharp as the others.
With that said, there are still aspects I really like about these pants. First, the fabric is fairly similar to the Jack Archers. This is to say that, while it feels almost like golf pants, it looks a bit dressier than that. And, like the Birdogs, I also love the zippered hidden pocket just beyond the regular left, front pocket.
Even though the Ahas were much cheaper than the other options, the All Day Performance Chinos have yet to present any issues. From the button to the zipper (which honestly narrowly beats the Lulu zipper), they feel solid. And, the stretch built into the pants is right up there with the other options we’ve covered.
Finally, regarding the pair of joggers I ordered (mostly in a bid to cross the free shipping threshold), I’ve worn these casually as well as to the Y and like them enough for what they are. But, the reason I wanted to mention them is something I found a bit funny. Like the other pants we’ve looked at, the crotch design on these joggers seems like they’re meant to reduce crush. However, they still have a seam in the middle that basically defeats the point while trying to replicate the aesthetic. Honestly, that pretty much sums up the vibe of Aha Selected as it’s not exactly a knock-off but isn’t the highest quality either. But, hey, they are more affordable than these other brands for sure.
My Favorite of the Four
While I actually quite enjoy all of the pants I purchased for this match-up, there is one pair that stands out as my favorite. That would have to be… the Lululemons.
I know — it sounds fixed. Trust me, I wish that I could have found a pair of pants taht are more affordable and offered the same or better feel than Lulu. Alas, there’s just something so special about these slacks.
Honestly, whenever I wear them, I feel more confident and comfortable. They fit me great, the material feels amazing, and I simply enjoy wearing them. Because of this, I’ve already started eyeing additional pairs (in darker colors). Of course, that’s where the pricetag of these pants factors in as I really can’t justify stocking my closest with Lululemon. But, what I can do is keep an eye on sales, clearance, and more so that I can hopefully get at least a couple more pairs in the future,
My Pick: The Best Value
Even though the Lululemon pants were my favorite, I have to say that I think the best overall value is…. the Jack Archers. Specifically, the deal with two pairs of pants and a shirt for under $200 makes this the winner. Alternatively, I’ve also seen the Jetsetter pants on sale for $89 each, which I think would also make them my value pick over the $130 Lulus. Sure, the retail price is apparently $150 per pair, but I can’t imagine anyone is actually paying that.
Overall, I think the Jack Archer Jetsetter pants are a well-rounded option if you can find a good offer on them. They’re comfortable, they’re moisture-wicking, and they look damn good. So, although they’re not quite Lulus, they’re close enough for the money IMHO.
All in all, I’m pleased with my pant-buying experience and have largely been rotating through all of these options since purchasing them. This doesn’t mean I’ve entirely retired my jeans, but they are far less frequently seen to be sure. So, to summarize, while I do have a favorite of this bunch and another that I think offers the overall best value, I don’t think you can really go too wrong with any of them.