Published: September 2, 2013
Pants are always popular, especially with real women and real lives to lead, but they rarely spark a lot of excitement. What can you do with two legs and a waistband, after all?
More than you think, responds the fashion industry this fall.
"Pants feed back into the overarching idea of personal style," says Samira Nasr, fashion director at Elle magazine. "There really is a choice in how adventurous do you want to be."
Still, can you get the compliments with pants that you always seem to receive when you wear a new dress?
Absolutely, says designer Nanette Lepore: Find your fit and a good tailor, and the kind words will come.
A teenager or even a young 20-something who probably mostly wears jeans or shorts never really has lived through a high-fashion pants moment, she says. This is her chance.
She can break away from leggings or skinny jeans - or at least try them in prints - and she should try the relaxed track-pant silhouette that has broken out as a trend, says Lepore, who designs a youthful line for JCPenney called L'Amour. "It's going to be a little bit of a leap for her, but she's going to get the coolness of them."
For a more sophisticated customer, she'd recommend clean, slim-leg trousers paired with a tailored suit jacket. "I really think the suit could be the new dress."
And Lepore says higher waistbands are on the way.
As for the wide-leg option, it's out there, especially a cropped style that landed on Nasr's radar after previews of the resort collections that will be available around the holidays. She predicts there will be even more of them next spring, but adds that they're an acquired taste and won't be for everyone.
Lepore says women "just love skinny pants. We will put other things on the runway, like that soft pant, which morphed into a cargo pant, but I don't see a flared leg coming back anytime soon."
The jumpsuit, however, is ripe for a return, says designer Abi Ferrin, who spent three years retooling the silhouette to create one she thought would work for her own more curvy shape.
Ferrin is better known for her dresses, but she really wanted the jumpsuit in her repertoire. Her newest twist for fall is a jumpsuit with the genie-style, cinched-bottom ankle.
"It seems scary until you try it on, but you put it on, and put on a tall shoe, and it looks great," Ferrin says. "It's work upfront, but it's one and done. You get the ease of pants, but all you have to do is add earrings and a cuff bracelet."
The last time pants were a must-have for the important fall shopping season was about five years ago, and there has been improvement in fabric technology since then.
"It's not the pant itself, it's what happens around the pants - a sliver of the midriff showing on top, great shoes or accessories that you'll talk about - but you remember where you got your favorite pair of pants," Nasr says.
She says you need that perfect basic canvas. "I take comfort in the fact that a great pair of pants is a great pair of pants."