Women wearing pants is such an everyday occurrence that it is easy to forget that there was a time not so long ago when it was frowned upon, in fact, it was downright scandalous. Back in the day, women only wore pants if they were working in the factories, skiing on the slopes or riding their horses. That’s it, nowhere else and under no other circumstances, that is, until a couple of Hollywood starlets in the 1930’s decided to go against the wishes of their studios and started a controversial trend. Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich shunned dresses and instead wore pants on-screen and off. In the beginning, this defiance of social norms and the wearing of men’s clothing cost the starlets dearly in the world of public opinion. However, being strong-willed women, they continued wearing their trousers and ever so slowly changed the public’s perception of trouser-wearing women. Together they started a fashion revolution that never looked back. By the 1950′s the idea of women wearing slacks for casual wear exploded and in the 1960′s designers introduced the first pantsuits for women. Since that time, pants have integrated themselves into our wardrobes to such a degree that they have achieved staple status.
A pair of black pants is indispensable to every classic wardrobe. However, shopping for a pair of well-fitting pants often evolves into a time-consuming quest that feels like an unsolvable mystery. Although it is difficult to find a perfectly fitting pair hanging on the rack of your favorite department store, do not despair. Much like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, a good seamstress can transform an almost perfect pair into the pants of your dreams.
Tips for Buying Pants
- Waist Fit: Keep it comfortable — nothing too tight, nothing too loose.
- Waistband Position: Above the high hip and below the naval is a good look. Also, the waistband should form a circle that is parallel to the ground — no dips in the front or back when standing.
- Cut: As a rule, a looser cut is preferable for dress slacks.
- Rise Length: Avoid pants that are too long or too short in the crotch. The correct fit is important to the overall look of the pants.
- Length: The pants should almost skim the ground. In other words, the top of the shoes should barely be seen.
- Comfort: Sit down in a chair while wearing the pants. They should not feel snug anywhere.
How to Choose Your Most Flattering Style
- If you are wide at the hips or bottom, look for slightly flared or wide-leg pants.
- If you have short legs, lengthen your look by wearing pants with creased fronts. Straight-leg pants or ones with a slight flare work best; avoid cuffs.
- If you lack curves, create the illusion of having some by choosing pants with pockets in the hip area. Low slung belts also help add shape to your silhouette.
- If you have an hourglass figure, look for pants with slightly flared or wide straight legs.
- If you have a large mid-section, choose pants that have a medium rise with slightly wider legs
A Word about Fabric
Do yourself a favor and avoid fabrics that wrinkle. Spandex helps cotton and linen not wrinkle and also has the added benefit of enhancing the general fit. If you buy pants made from wool, they will fit and hang better if they are lined.
Two words that will serve you well when shopping for any garment:
Fit and Fabric.
How to Care for Your Pants and Protect Your Investment
- Treat stains immediately.
- If the fabric is machine washable, wash after each wearing.
- If the fabric is dry clean only, let your pants air out before hanging them up again.
- If pants require ironing, turn them inside out and start at the waistband making sure to iron the pockets, seams, and hems. Turn them right side out and touch up any left-over wrinkles.
- Hang pants up immediately after taking them out of the dryer or letting them air out. Avoid unsightly wrinkles by hanging them by the waist on a clamp hanger. If you do not have enough room for the pants to hang lengthwise without hitting the floor or other objects, use fold-over hangers with rubber padding. Smooth out all the wrinkles after placing them evenly on the hanger.