Recipe For Pants Success

V1050Not all pants are created equal. Perhaps once in your life, you owned a pair of pants that you knew you looked great in. In addition to being ultra flattering, they were also very comfortable and didn’t wrinkle. What were the ingredients which created this pant magic? What should a great fitting pant feel and look like?

For starters, unless the pant is a jean cut, it should fall from the bottom without cupping in under the seat. When getting up from a sitting position, the pant should fall into position, without tugging or smoothing to make the pant hang perfectly. The side seams should hang parallel to the floor.

There should be no gap at the back of the waist or horizontal pleat under the waistband because there is not enough room over the tummy and high hip.

 The pant should lengthen the leg and slim the silhouette, which is a direct relationship to the pant being the correct length. To determine your ideal pant length, tie a string around your waist and stand on the floor without shoes. Measure down the side seam from the string to the floor for the outseam and from the crotch to the floor to get an inseam measurement. This is your finished pant length. Pants are hemmed evenly all around, finishing even with the floor in the back of the heel to give the pant a slight break in the front. Pants can be hemmed an inch shorter if they will be worn with flats but must cover at least half of the heel on a higher shoe.

Pant width is also important. While a full leg pant can hide full thighs and wide hips, cargo pants with a pocket over the thigh would be a disaster on a woman with full thighs but a gift to a woman with thin legs. Slim legged pants are better with fuller tops or longer sweaters or else you simply look big. Vertical seams and center leg vertical pleats not only make the leg look longer but provide fit opportunities as well. Another trick for lengthening the leg is a tuxedo stripe down the side of the leg or piping without filler inserted into this seam.

Side or center back closures are great for eliminating bulk over the tummy. If you like your pants snug, sew the front pockets closed and cut away the pocket bag. This eliminates the ‘show through’ ridge caused by the edge of the pocket. Flat angled pockets in back can minimize a large bottom. When choosing a pant pattern, buy the pattern by the full hip size since alterations for the waist can always be made in the darts or center back seam.

Fabric makes a huge difference in pants you love. 2 to 5% Lycra stretch will provide a closer fit that is still comfortable. Look for stretch wool, stretch moleskin, stretch denim, and stretch cotton twill.
Drape is important and fabric combinations with Lycra often drape better than their 100% natural fiber counterparts. Lycra blends also wrinkle less. For close fitting, knock around the house pants, look for a dense fabric with a twill weave which will hide imperfections and keep its shape. Thick fabrics such as corduroy add weight, thin fabrics such as single knit jerseys work well in a full pant but will show all figure flaws in a closer fit.

Want to make great pants that fit? Sandra recommends the following resources available to you at