Putting together a professional wardrobe can often be a challenge for women. However, if you start with a few basic pieces like classic blazers and pencil skirts, you’re off to a good start. Traditional dress pants are another item that should be in every working woman’s closet; but shopping for them can be a frustrating experience. If you know what to look for ahead of time, though, you can find the ideal pants to wear at the office and other professional events in no time.

Choose the Right Fabric

While fit is obviously important when you’re selecting pants for the office, start by considering the fabric. You want to avoid lightweight fabrics that are clingy or wrinkle easily. Instead, look for pants made from a weighty fabric that has a substantial feel. It should also have a good drape to it so it skims the body instead of hugging it. Pants made of a cotton/rayon/polyester or wool/rayon/polyester blend are an ideal option for a professional setting.

Consider Color

In addition to fabric, you should also consider the color of pants that you are considering for work. Even if you’re a fan of bright colors like red, purple or hot pink, they can be a bit too much for the office. Neutral colors are a much better option since they have a polished, understated look and can work with any other shade in your wardrobe. You certainly can’t go wrong with classic black trousers for work, but charcoal, dove gray, brown and tan are also attractive options. Black pinstriped pants are also a good choice for the office, particularly if you want to elongate the look of your legs.

Keep It Simple

For your dress pants to look as flattering and professional as possible, it is best to choose a simple style that doesn’t add bulk to your silhouette. Avoid pants that have pleats at the front – not only do they have a dated look, they can create an unflattering pouch at your stomach. Instead, opt for pants that have a flat front for a sleek, trim look. If your stomach is an area of concern, choose pants that have a wide waistband to help pull you in. It’s also a good idea to stay away from dress pants with side entry pockets that can make your hips look bigger. If you want pockets, choose front slat or back pockets instead.

Get the Fit Right

Fit is obviously key when choosing pants for the office, so be prepared to try on quite a few pairs when you go shopping. However, in many cases, you won’t be able to find a pair that fits perfectly off the rack – that’s not a problem, though, since a tailor can easily make alterations to get the ideal fit. Start with the waist — which should be comfortable and tailored, but not too tight. If you find yourself between sizes, choose the larger size and have your tailor take the waist in as necessary. In the hips and thighs, the pants should graze your body and drape down to the legs. If they pucker or whisker in the thighs, go up a size and have the waist altered. Make sure that the rise is correct too – your pants shouldn’t be too snug in the crotch, but they shouldn’t hang too low either or you’ll wind up shortening the look of your legs. Don’t forget to consider the heel height of the shoes you will be regularly wearing with the pants; wear your work shoes while shopping to get the proper length. The pants’ legs should graze the floor, but not drag along it. Have them hemmed if they’re too long.