Fab casual pants are a missed retail opportunity. Apart from jeans and cropped pants (clamdiggers and walk shorts), the options are limited.

Here’s why:

  • 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.

Martin Cotton Weekend Pant City-fit Watson Pant Marc Ware Pinstripe Linen Pants

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.