Elasticated waistbands. The mere mention of these two apparently innocuous words conjures up images of nasty acrylic slacks filling up lost and forgotten sale racks, as visited only by not-so-yummy mummies.
And then, only on fat days. Or, of course, the ribbed, drawstring variety may be associated with celebrities who have, well, let's just say "issues" with their body image – or the fluctuation of their weight, at least. Nicole Ritchie, Geri Halliwell, Jennifer Lopez: admit that those Juicy Couture trackpants were a wardrobe staple, first and foremost, because they have the capacity to accommodate the mutating bottoms within.
But wait! Not only has the designer Rick Owens single-handedly done for the elasticated waistband what Miuccia Prada has for the librarian – his classic flow pants, long and languid of leg and ribbed at waist, are a chic addition to any wardrobe – but also for spring/summer 2009, more of fashion's big names are wading in where angels have formerly feared to tread.
Strange but true: the elasticated waistband is no longer the preserve of those favouring comfort over sartorial achievement. It is now the last word in fashion credibility, it seems, as seen everywhere from Prada – skirts worn high, medium or low on the waist were finished with thick strips of elastic, albeit covered in ruched fabric – to Chloé – probably the most out-there trousers of the season, boasting an as in-your-face oversized elasticated waistband as it is possible to imagine.
This particular fashion happening is at least partly attributable to the 1980s revival. The designs of that decade were more than a little partial to an elasticated waistband, or, indeed, just elastic in general – Lycra leggings, anyone? That was then, however. Today, even the exercise-obsessed are more likely to opt for Thai fisherman's trousers, God help them, designed to wrap nonchalantly rather than vacuum-pack the body.
Admittedly, there is some satisfaction to be derived from the fact that fashion may, on the odd occasion, have a forgiving moment, and the release of the elasticated waistband from fashion Siberia may be viewed as one of these. Having said that, things might not be quite that simple. The aforementioned Prada is proposing not only that her elasticated waistbands be over-tied with black ribbon and bows, but also that women might like to wear them with nothing more obviously forgiving than a bra to match.
Chloé's golden trousers, meanwhile, are designed for wear only with the briefest, most delicate camisole. Not-so-yummy mummies need not apply, then.