March 30, 2015 01:00 PM

Welcome Allison McGevna, 31, of Inside Allie’s World, who is joining us as our resident curvy-girl style blogger. She was featured in the December/January issue of PEOPLE StyleWatch and contributes her thoughts on finding the perfect outfit to the site each week. This week, she talks finding the perfect pair of black pants, and the infinite styling possibilities once you’ve found them. (And if her items are sold out, we’ve linked to similar styles below — happy shopping!)

Courtesy Allison McGevna

A great pair of black pants should be in every girl’s closet. They’re like a blank canvas! You can dress them up or make them more casual in an instant. They always work at the office or for a night out. Don’t be afraid to spend on a well-made pair — they’re so worth it. But, first make sure they fit certain criteria…

RELATED: See even more wardrobe tips from Allison here!

The first thing I look for in a great pair of black pants is the right cut and fit. A lot of pants get sucked up by my wider hips and start to look like high waters. This calls more attention to the widest part of my body and is less than ideal. My pants need to highlight my assets and they need to be fitted enough that they won’t ride up, but not so fitted that they lose their polished feel. Note: I tend to avoid black pants that feel like jeggings — I might as well buy a pair of actual leggings! The second thing I look for is a versatile length. I love a tailored pair of pants that hits right at the ankle. That means you can wear flats, heels or boots with them and the length won’t look awkward. The third thing I look for is quality seaming. You definitely don’t want to split the bottom of your pants when you sit down. Weak seams can make this a lot more plausible. Invest in a pair of black pants that is really well made, strong seams included. The fourth thing I look for is the proper rise. The pants cannot be too low-rise. You want to avoid a muffin top situation, and you don’t want to be constantly hiking them up. A medium or high rise is where it’s at. The last thing I look for is flattering pocket placement. I tend to go for pockets that lay close to the body and sit above my hips, not on them. If you’re hippy like me, try and avoid pockets that stick out and sit on your widest point — they just draw attention. I like to walk around in the dressing room to make sure that the pockets on my pants won’t start to protrude. Sometimes, if a pocket is sewn together, I’ll leave it sewn shut to make sure it lies flat. I assure you, pants that fit all this criteria are out there. These ankle-length, straight-leg pants from Lane Bryant did the trick for me!

Like I said, black pants are a total blank canvas, full of possibilities! I paired these with a leopard-print top from Ashley Stewart that has splashes of hot pink all over it. (The jersey girl in me loves leopard. I feel like it’s basically a neutral!) The top was actually part of a skirt set that I disassembled. I do that a lot — mix and match pieces from sets. It’s an easy way to get even more bang for your buck. Black pants make a bold top like this the focal point. I like to deflect attention away from my hips, so wearing a bold print on top was perfect for me. Since the shirt has a high neck and a busy print, I decided not to wear a necklace, or much jewelry at all. I wanted to keep things streamlined and keep the focus on the print. I layered a white Ashley Stewart moto jacket on top because the silhouette and color felt sleek, and because I love a black-and-white combo. It feels really current, and white can be a tricky trend for plus girls. The jacket’s strong shoulders create nice long lines, and they also deflect attention away from my arms (my least favorite body part). I didn’t want to be totally covered up though, so I rolled the sleeves up a bit. Doing that is an easy, low-pressure way of showing some skin. I added black-and-white heels from French Connection to top off the look (the back of the heels are black). A subtle way to work the colorblocking trend!

How many pairs of black pants do you own? What do you wear them with? How do you make them feel fresh? Sound off below!

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