If slacks never seem to feel comfortable, flatter your figure, or withstand hard wear, consider the following tips to help you avoid these problems: The most durable trouser fabric is polyester gabardine. It is machine washable and will not wrinkle, fray, or lose its shape. Wool is unsurpassed for warmth, but unlined garments of this fabric are scratchy. Corduroy is warm but bulky and wears out rapidly. In addition, both it and wool often require dry cleaning. This is expensive and impractical for garments that get frequent use.
Dark, monochromatic slacks coordinate with prints and solid-color blouses. They are also more flattering to the vast majority of figures than plaids, checks, and stripes.
Unless waist and hips are in almost perfect proportion to each other, avoid pants with the traditional nonstretching band. Elastic inserts help to keep blouses tucked in and are more slenderizing than a completely elasticized waistband.
If slacks have a lining, make sure it is detached at the hem of the garment. Dry cleaning affects the outer shell of a garment differently than it does lining fabric. Keeping the two separate at the bottom avoids unsightly puckers.
Zippers will lie flatter if they are installed in either the front or back seam rather than the side one. The hip area has a curve that makes sewing in a zipper without some puckering difficult. Wrinkles in this area will make the slacks look skimpy.
If the garment has pockets, make sure their placement is flattering to your figure. Patch pockets add width at the hips, and those that are part of side seams rarely lie flat. Bulging in this area makes even the slimmest figure look lumpy.
Once you've found slacks you like, it's time to check the following points:
Does the garment feel comfortable in the crotch? A crotch that is too long for your figure will make the slacks look as though they are sagging. One that is too short will be uncomfortable and cause wrinkling below the center front seam. Since altering the crotch is rarely successful, never buy garments with this flaw.
Is the hip area smooth and flat? Puckers indicate the wearer either needs a larger size or a style that is cut more generously through the hips. If you have this problem, look for trousers labeled ''full cut.''
Do the slacks fit well in the back? A full derriere causes wrinkles at back side seams and below the seat. In addition, the center back seam will dip. If you have this type of figure, your waist is probably quite small. However, always buy your trousers to fit the hip. Taking in the waist is much easier than letting out the hip seams.
Does the waistband fall at your natural waist rather than above or below it? A band that lands in the wrong spot is a major cause of discomfort and poor fit. You can often solve this problem by buying slacks that are labeled short, medium , and tall length and rise (the rise being the distance between the crotch and the waistband).
Are the front darts in the same place as your pelvic bones? If they are not, you will notice puckering at the front side seams of the slacks. Since an alteration seldom corrects this problem, choose another style.
Is the garment comfortable in the thighs? Skimpiness in this area will cause wrinkling at the top of the leg and fraying of the fabric due to constant strain. If you have this problem, avoid junior sizes. Misses' garments are cut more generously. In addition, you will be more comfortable in slacks with a pleated rather than straight front.
Is the center back seam smooth? Puckering in the region between waist and hips indicates swayback. The unsightly wrinkles that result are very difficult to correct in a ready-made garment.