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Pants in disguise

The pandemonium over pants began more than a year ago when European designers introduced scores of new trouser styles, some of which were unusual in the extreme.

For a time it seemed that metropolitan streets might be filled with women in walking shorts and matching jackets. But no such phenomenon took place. A few adventurous souls tried out culottes. During spells of 90-degree weather, lithe young urban dwellers with model figures appeared in shorts with tank tops.That was about it.

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Meanwhile, American manufacturers took a wait-and-see attitude as they kept on producing ocnventional skirts and traditional long trousers. Fashion creators did not, nonetheless, give up on the idea and more new types of pants cropped up continually on their drawing boards. The fashion industry began to go along with their thinking.

Spring/summer '81, it seemed, would be the right time for innovative pants. Thus, all sorts of styles, including hybrids of skirts and pants, are in generous supply. Will the demand meet it? This could be, for there is enough of a variety to suit every taste.

Besides, being panted in some manner or other has its points. As an added component, a new form of trousers would be the ideal updater for a wardrobe of separates.

The culotte is the nearest approach to a skirt (some are almost indistinguishable from skirts). Standing or sitting, the culotte presents a decorous appearance, even in the most awkward sprawl. Running, jumping, you name it, no problem.

Such bifurcated skirts range from classic to avant-garde. Tailored front-pleated types pair well with blazers and are as wearable to the office as a skirt. Hip-yoked culottes, such as the kind done by Perry Ellis, are gathered to resemble dirndls or peasant skirts for a more casual look.

Calvin Klein, who dislikes the term "culotte," does short silk crepe pants that are concealed by a front panel and calls the design a "pant skirt." Dhotis, the style worn in India, ar among his silk and cotton separates and are favorites of Willi Smith, too, for his pure cotton Williwear collection.

A ballooning shape that Perry Ellis calls a "golfer" is less like its plus four ancestor than a victorian bloomer, particularly when worn with ellis's snug pleat-frilled waist cinch. Other voluminous bloomers, such as Moroccan and harem pants, come in gauzy fabrics and light crepe de chines for warm weather days and nights.

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Lengths encompass everything from very short, calf, and the customary ankle level.Adri offers both drawstring versions as well as waist-pleated straight-line trousers, in slubbed and honan silks, and in pima cottons.

For eveining, the latest in pants harks back to the 1950s heyday of Italian alta moda with a revival of wide palazzo pants, with which to sweep the terrazzo under the stars some warm summer night. All in all, the new kinds of pants provide a progressive look. They are the category of spring fashion that everyone is calling "modern."

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