Pants can be so much more than merely practical

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,” said Samira Nasr, fashion director at Elle magazine. “There really is a choice in how adventurous you want to be.”

She adds: “Pants are the go-to because they are the most comfortable thing, they look good and they are a functional garment. Women can go about their day and feel ‘dressed.’ “

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 has never really 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, said 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,” she said.

And higher waistbands are on the way, she said.

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 said 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.”

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