- Khakis: It’s hard to look hip and stylish in an ultra-casual pair. Khakis either look too young, too conservative or dated when matched with casual shoes and knitted tops. Substitute a pair of casual khakis with white/cream cotton pants (pique or twill), or jeans (blue or white) and it’s an instantly better look. A smarter pair of khakis matched with a tailored black or white top and dressy shoe is a nice outfit. But that’s business casual, and not the relaxed vibe you’re after.
- Cargos: Few women look great in rigid cotton cargos. They’re best on inverted triangles if you find a pair with a sophisticated edge. Most styles tend to look wide, masculine and teenybopper-ish. Silk or silk blend cargos in drapey fabric are sweet, but delicate and shiny. They tend to look best with a dressier shoe which once again takes you out of the casual dress code.
- Poplin, seersucker, stripes and prints: Casual pants in these fabrics can work, but they’re not versatile. It’s hard to match them with tops and you’ll have wardrobe orphans if you aren’t careful.
- Linen: You either like the creased linen look or you don’t. If you don’t, it rules out another casual Summer pants option.
- Micro-check: I like this casual pants look, but it’s hard to find in America. I’m referring to a very fine, subtle plaid in neutral colours. It’s usually in a cotton or poly-blend and looks great in full length pants or cropped styles. A super look with sandals, thong sandals, Converse or ballet flats. Wish there were more to choose from.
- Knits: casual pants in knits are gear. We either exercise or lounge in these.
So we’re down to denim, or cotton twill/ pique pants (full length or cropped in any colour). Micro-checks and linen bottoms are next on the list of versatile casual pant options. Bottom line: your options are limited if you lead a casual lifestyle and your preference is for pants, but you don’t like denim. Day dresses and skirts solve the problem, but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Left: White cotton “weekend pants” from Banana Republic are available in other colours, but I think they look best in white. Middle: Yellow cotton sateen pants from J Crew are an interesting casual bottom alternative. I fancy the idea of matching them with black, white, cream and cobalt blue. Right: If anyone wears pants like this elasticized brown linen style, I’ll have an apoplexy.