Pants come up short

Pants deserve a special mention. The reaffirmation of pants for fall is a change that many will regard as for the better. The idea of now and again wearing trousers of one sort or another has been persistent on international fashion fronts.

From the culotte, or divided skirt, to the man-tailored pleat-top trouser, pants cropped up everywhere during the european and American showings. No type of trouser dressing has been ignored this season, including the classic flannel blazer-and-pants suit, the jogger's sweat pants outfit, and the parachutist's jumpsuit.

Designers have been experimental in searching for new ways to combine trousers with overskirts. They have discovered the youthful charm of sporty wool shorts with knee socks or opague tights, which are usually ribbed and in tone with the rest of the outfit.

Bloomers, Zouaves, knickers, knee breeches, bermudas, and briefs are some of the leg-revealing varieties. Among the longer pants are capris and other cropped lengths, dirndl styles with hip yokes, and front-pleated culottes that so closely resemble skirts they could easily be worn in business situations.

None of the above is related to jeans -- a populist way of dressing which the true fashion authority would confine to Western or preppie looks. But the universality of jeans has doubtless had its effect. When all the world keeps on wearing them, jeans -- with their message of ease and comfort -- must contribute to designers' rethinking of the pants subject.

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