At the spring 2010 fashion shows, models paraded down the runway in a trend that could only be quantified as pantless. High cut briefs, paired with embellished tops and spiky heels, showed off the mile-high legs of models at Chanel, Marc Jacobs, and Derek Lam. They looked stunning - like Marilyn Monroe in a curve-hugging swimsuit except with sky high stilettos.
New York Magazine just declared that this will be the summer to wear "microscopic" shorts and even J. Crew has swimsuit bloomers (which they recommend pairing with a white button-down shirt for maximum contrast) for sale this year.
In the StyleList office, we wondered what would happen if a real woman wore those pretty pantaloons around town. Of course as the fashionable assistant (and youngest member) of the staff, I was nominated to test the trend, much to my own nervousness and personal humiliation. (Let's remember this at review time, lovely bosses!)
Fortunately I'm not totally unfamiliar with a short short. Ten years of running track in painfully unflattering "butt huggers" (official track term for racing bottoms) had prepared me for this mission.
"Obviously this trend only works on the best of bodies and definitely in the 30-and-under category," says stylist Meg Goldman. "Don't even think about it if you are older than that and not toned."
Under 30? Check. Toned? No comment.
But, as get ups go, I was wearing some of the finest threads that the world has to offer. That said, as I walked out of the office in a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana ensemble straight off the Spring 2010 runway, (sheer floral top, $725 and tiny floral pantaloons, $650), my confidence took a dive faster than Michael Phelps at the Olympics.
The light was so bright on my completely exposed legs. I wanted to run back inside immediately. But women are known to suffer for their fashion. So in true Anna Wintour-style, I threw on a pair of oversized sunglasses and charged ahead.
Maybe it wasn't so bad. The fabric was soft and comfortable (maybe because there wasn't much of it) and I had thrown on a pair of black Proenza Schouler heels to elongate my legs, which is key if you want to wear this look. I also had the added bonus of layering with a black Theory blazer, which pulled the outfit together nicely.
Off I went.
"What the --- is she wearing?" slapped me back to the reality that I was strutting around in basically no bottoms -- including some co-workers who didn't recognize me! This was a chorus that was echoed regularly by strangers throughout the course of my hour-long experiment, along with cat calls from construction workers and yes, even the Good Humor man.
In Starbucks, one barista refused to look at me while another extolled the virtues of my outfit. "I like the material," he said of the silky bottoms. "It's almost like shorts. They will be good for summer."
"Thanks, man!," I said as I stepped out sideways toward the door.
On a bustling corner on Astor Place, I asked two women (in that "under 30" category) what they thought of the outfit. "It looks good on you, but I could never pull it off."
At the local Duane Reade drugstore, a pharmacist on break did a double-take while I cruised the makeup aisle. "It definitely works if you are in your twenties," she said. "After 25, forget it."
So the consensus is that you should to be young, but what about tall? "I don't think you necessarily have to have super long, model legs and stature to wear it," says Goldman. "I just spotted a petite woman with long torso and shorter legs wearing the romper version of this trend ( a little less scary and revealing and more like hot pants than underwear) and it actually looked quite cute."
To wit Beyonce, who is not a petite woman, rocked a bootylicious version in the "Single Ladies" video. And of course Lady Gaga has made pantslessness her trademark look. But if you are not a model on the Prada runway or in the "Telephone" video, is it really worth it?
I would go pantsless again perhaps for a night of dancing at a club or to lounge on the beach, but as far as traversing the streets of New York during daylight hours, not so much. Unless I had a Top 40 hit. And an extra large bodyguard.
Let us know what you think about the racy runway trend. Is it wearable or not?
(And if you are just facing plain old shorts this season, read this on how to look slim in shorts.)