I had to go to Washington, DC last week for a business trip. I work at home and travel for business only occasionally (usually to DC, where my company's home office is located), typically a couple times per year. Because I rarely need to dress up, I only own one suit, two dress shirts, and three ties. I never thought I needed any more dress-up clothes than that, but none of my meetings this time were formal enough that I needed to bring the suit. And that made me realize that I need a second pair of dress trousers. I used the trousers from my suit, and those were fine for my meetings with clients, but when I looked through the small range of "nice but not formal" trousers in my closet I realized that I had nothing that would work. Some of them had cooking stains in embarrasing locations (I really need to remember to wear an apron when cooking), and others were a bit on the raggedy side. In the end I took an old but fairly presentable pair of Patagonia canvas pants that I've had for 10 years. After cutting off the frayed threads at the bottom of the legs they looked pretty good, I thought, but I got some stares when I wore them to the office.
When I got back home I started shopping for dress trousers. I buy clothes rarely, but when I do I like to get high-quality stuff. However, I quickly got sticker shock: most of the trousers that appealed to me were in the $250-$350 range. I can afford it but it seems awfully expensive to me. I did some more hunting and found some very good half-price trousers through the online clearance center at Ben Silver, but none of them were quite what I was looking for. Still, even $150 is a lot to spend on a pair of trousers that I'm likely to wear at most 3-4 times a year.
I was on the verge of buying the half-price Ben Silver pants when I happened to notice an LL Bean catalogue sitting by the dining room table. I'm not a big fan of their clothing, although I do buy shoes from them from time to time. I leafed through the catalogue and found "Bean's Washable Year-Round Wool Trousers" for $69. I looked at them and realized they'd be just fine. They're not finely tailored or made with premium fabrics, but for my purposes they'll do. And the fact that they're machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant makes them ideal for traveling.
I'm glad I avoided an impulse buy and spent some time doing research, it saved me a lot of money. I probably could have saved even more if I went to a thrift store, but I don't have time to browse the racks for something in my size...I'm a tall guy and it's rare for me to find clothes that fit me in the thrift shops.