Who's wearing the pants then?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 June, 1996, 12:00am

Could someone please explain the puzzling pants paradox. If above-the-knee skirts amount to conservative professionalism why do floor-skimming trousers amount to casual wear? It was Coco Chanel in the 1920s who first introduced the concept of pants, in the form of 'beach pyjamas'.

Between the 50s and 60s pants continued to surface in various guises and continued to enjoy a shocking and avant-garde reputation - they were a necessary evil.

But by the 70s women went several steps further and pants were worn everywhere. They were no longer based on flowering pyjamas or paired with mini-dress tunic tops, they were deliberately severe and the norm for everyday business wear.

They took on an identity of their own, sleek and tailored . . . the corporate pantsuit had arrived.

Professional dressing is not confined to skirts. Although the skirt is undeniably feminine and timeless, it has its restrictions too; it hitches and confines, provides for ladders in tights and allows for the wandering eye.

The fringe benefits of pants include ease of movement, while providing comfort. These new pant-suits look streamlined and modern, and there's one more side benefit: pants offer a more pragmatic solution to the problem of hemlines.

The wearer of such a suit expounds femininity with the image of professionalism. A men's style suit does not necessarily mean the emulation of masculinity - lean and long, fluid silhouettes provide for a softer side of pants dressing.

With cuffs coming through jacket sleeves, elegant buttons and tapered, softer fabrics to add all the femininity that is needed for perfect professional polish . . . we have not yet completely evolved into a genderless generation.

The pant-suit may never replace the skirt, but it will never lose to it either.

Enjoy your freedom and the right to choose.

Hair and makeup: Doris Mak Models: Claudia and Wanda Elite Models