What is 3 Ways or the Highway?

When considering a new purchase, it is important to set some ground rules. The rules apply to anything we add to our closet! As a reminder, the rules are as follows: (1) Style the item in question 3 unique ways. (2) 15 minutes to create each look (3) Weigh all the looks and the store/brand/cost and decide if the purchase is versatile enough to be worth it. Start the clocks.


I have a digital database of all my clothing (if you are interested in this concept, email me) and the other day while sorting through it, I realize I have an inordinate number of tops, dresses, and even baseball caps, but honestly very few pants or bottoms by comparison. This might even stem from a grave mistake first made the day I decided to started to “get into” fashion: I decided that the hard part was finding cool items to wear on top, and my bottom half style would stay evergreen with some skinny jeans. Unfortunately, skinny jeans are not the panacea to “what should I wear today?” and now I often feel insecure about bringing individually stellar items together into a cohesive outfit, without more nuanced pant options. Thus I have started my quest to attain adult pants for my closet, and these are the first pair I am evaluating:

Green leather pants to be evaluated

The Item 411

Source/Brand: These pants are featured on Thrilling, a vintage store aggregator website that I have also covered in past posts. They partner with individual boutique vintage stores all over the United States, and give them an online platform to sell their clothes. Most of the stores on the site are female-owned businesses and many of them rave about the profit-sharing model that Thrilling offers. This specific pair of pants is from the brand Company by Ellen Tracy, and are being sold by Zoe’s Vintique, a Black woman owned store in Los Angeles.

Cost: The pants are $65 and Thrilling has free shipping for orders over $75.

Design: The color of the pants is listed as “Avocado green”, the material is leather, and there is no stretch. I am not sure about whether it is real or faux leather.

So! Should I buy this?

"3 Ways or the Highway" Rules

Before adding items to our closet, each one has to go through these 3 rules:

  1. Style the item in question 3 unique ways (call me out if I cheat)
  2. 15 minutes to create each look
  3. Weigh all the looks and the store/brand/cost and decide if the purchase is versatile enough to be worth it.

Start the clocks.

Outfit 1

Thoughts while creating this outfit:

  • I thought about creating an outfit for autumn. I think I subconsciously assume summer is over due to social distancing requirements so I am already onto fall - maybe by then I’ll be dressing up with some place to go again…
  • Amy Smilovic recently wrote on Instagram about “omne trium perfectum” meaning “every set of three is perfect” as applied to outfits. She believes that there should always be 3 elements or components in an outfit that are unique or notable; any more disrupts the balance.
  • The leather pants are an unconventional material, relatively speaking, so that is my “outfit thing” #1. I paired this with a boxy, white t-shirt which I interpret as a neutral element of the outfit since it doesn’t have a unique cut, neckline or sleeve. The jacket is “outfit thing” #2 with a beautiful textured burnt orange shearling to stand out against the green but simultaneously add to the earthy palette.
  • For “outfit thing” #3, I struggled. I have been obsessed with head scarves lately so I tried adding that to the outfit. That would have stood out compared to the outfit with the color and fabric, but I still hadn’t added shoes or any other accessories. The balance immediately felt off so I replaced that with gold earrings that stand out against the exposed neck of the model, as my unique third item for the outfit.

Outfit 2

Thoughts while creating this outfit:

  • For this outfit, I wanted to change things up and create a solid monochrome palette. I started with a green woolen long jacket to achieve a similar color scheme with the pants, and also overlap with the pants in a different spot to from the first outfit.
  • The green of this jacket was too warm compared to the pant color and I preferred a loose blazer/short trench-like item, to pick up on the grey undertones in the moss green bottom.
  • The outfit started to feel quite formal so I played around with white high-top sneakers and beige sporty sneakers, both of which felt too literal in the search for a more casual item.
  • I fell back on my love for headscarves and decided to use an orange checkered one here with the ends billowing in the wind. That felt like a bohemian touch compared to the leather straight legs and blazer on the body.
  • I didn’t end up having time to figure out shoes and explore other accessories additions.

Outfit 3

Thoughts while creating this outfit:

  • I wanted this outfit to be more androgynous than the first two, seeing if I could decrease the level of formality of leather pants. I loved the idea of a boxy loose button down shirt paired with the straight legs of the pants — non-hugging silhouettes that exuded calm control over the entire look.
  • I started with a shirt that clearly matched the dull green color of the pants and then experimented with reds, as a complementary color to green that would be more striking. After trying that, it felt like I was going for shock value just for the sake of shock value. The look felt very “Urban Outfitters shows you that girls can skateboard too” whereas the beige shirt with a pattern didn’t have as much of an air of desperation.
  • I liked the high-top sneakers with this look, especially if the pants hit above the ankle and the high-top of the sneaker can be seen. It adds an interesting proportion to the outfit that ends up working.

Final Verdict

Seeing these outfits together:

  1. Versatility: I think this color of pants is quite versatile with a variety of colors, while still being a unique pair of pants thanks to the leather and the fact that it isn’t a typical black, blue, or denim. I appreciate that they make a statement while still being deceptively neutral. I think the looks are different but I wouldn’t say they span very extreme ends of different styles. They all have similarities in that the final outfits are boxy, have subdued color palettes, and seemed to draw me towards laced-up shoes for the outfits that include shoes.
  2. Would I wear all the outfits created?: I think the first two outfits are definitely my style, and I am still questioning the third. I think the only thing I might change about it is not buttoning the shirt all the way to the top. Due to my chest size, a v-neck or skin showing at the top suits me better. After that slight change, hell yeah I would wear all of these.
  3. Is the price worth it?: I think $65 is a good price for second-hand pants that seem to still have a lot of life left in them. For the past couple of years, having not shopped at Forever21 and similar shops, I feel quite acclimated to this price range at minimum for a solid pair of pants.

While the answers to the questions above are positive, I feel these outfits are highly dependent on the items worn on top being extremely specific and unique. I feel if I didn’t have items that draped exactly like that blazer or had the same fit and colors as that jacket, the outfits might not work. I need to do more exploration with them, and the 15 minutes per outfit was not enough to convince me.

Therefore, I am going to pass on this item for now.