Universal Standard’s Pick of the Month: The Tess Ponte Culotte

Universal Standard’s Pick of the Month: The Tess Ponte Culotte

By : Amanda Richards


Much like blazers, and bodysuits, and workwear in general, I have a complicated past with black dress pants. At a certain point in my early adulthood, the thought of wearing a black dress pant felt like a curse; after all, why would I want to look so corporate and boring when I could look extremely cool and wear thrifted men's plaid trousers and my Weezer T-shirt? 

Then there was the matter of the material most black pants were made of, which was itchy, stiff, and unbreathable. I spent my first waitressing job cursing the black dress pants I got from a department store. To this day, they remain the most uncomfortable pants I’ve ever owned.

So imagine my shock — my horror, even — to learn that the Tess Ponte Culotte was our February 2020 Pick of the Month. When I saw the product photo, I audibly gasped; could I have finally circled back to being forced to wear a black dress pant after 10+ years of successfully avoiding them?

Of course, I should have known that our black dress pants would be different.

For starters, the Tess Ponte Culotte is just that: a culotte. It’s not a trouser, it’s not a cigarette, it’s not a pedal-pusher or a capri. It’s a wide-leg, cropped silhouette, and it feels current. It’s also made of a sturdy stretch ponte — anyone who has ever worn non-stretch dress pants before knows that one musn't take this level of flexibility for granted. When I wore them to work, everyone asked me how I felt about them. All I could say was that it didn’t feel like I was wearing dress pants; instead, they feel like sweats. However, don’t let the comfort level fool you: the Tess Ponte Culotte has real structure, as well as front pleats that make them look even more polished.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: the only thing worse than black trousers is a front pleat. For whatever reason, the idea of pleats sends most people running in the other direction as fast as  I used to run from the Misses trouser section at the JC Penney in Cleveland, Ohio. Trust: A front pleat is cool. A front pleat is your friend. A front pleat doesn’t make you look weird, or bulky, or fussy. A front pleat makes you look like you have your shit together.

I consider the Tess Ponte Culotte the end of my lifelong beef with black dress pants. OK, maybe I won’t go that far —  then again, it doesn’t really matter. These are the only black dress pants I ever need.