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Fashion 87 : Pants: They're Back, and So Is Comfort

November 20, 1987|BETTIJANE LEVINE | Times Fashion Editor

Although short skirts grabbed the headlines at recent fashion shows, the sleeper style for spring may well be pants. Comfortable pants, with plenty of hip and legroom, and a certain amount of Katharine Hepburn swagger. Pants with tailored (but often unmatched) jackets for daytime. Pants with shoulder or midriff-baring bodices at night.

Titans of the retail world, always a step ahead of the newest trends, are already enjoying the benefits of the relaxed new look. On a recent workday in New York, Dawn Mello, president of Bergdorf Goodman, whipped around town in a navy uit: full-leg trousers and a matching jacket with a bathrobe sash.

"Pants are an integral part of my wardrobe," Mello said. "I can't imagine being without them. It's true they haven't been around for a while, but I never gave them up. They're comfortable and allow you to be very active. I tend to stay with my own look."

Why are pants returning now to top designers' lineups? "Whenever the fashion pendulum swings very far in one direction, the opposite direction projects itself again,"Mello believes. This week in Los Angeles, the Broadway's vice president and fashion director, Lee Hogan Cass, arrived at an evening event swathed in what may become the '88 luxury look: easy trousers and jacket in two tweeds of the same brown shade. She completed the outfit with a cowl-neck brown satin paisley blouse and a fabric flower on her jacket lapel.

"I haven't worn pants for five or six years. I ordered these in September because they just seemed to look right." She found the jacket--in a related tweed of the same color--a few weeks later, somewhere else. And finally, the blouse. "I wore the outfit for the first time this week, and everyone complimented me on how I looked."

Cass doesn't think pants are surfacing as a backlash to super-short skirts. "They're just back. They stand on their own," she said.

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