Style police: Hang loose - but not too loose

Drawstring pants are everywhere. They're cool, comfortable, unisex and versatile. But that doesn't mean you can sling them on just any old how. Heavens, no...

STYLE POLICE is never one to sneer at fashion gurus. However, this month's Harper's Bazaar have featured a love letter to "Cargo pants" and a cover shot of Bridget Hall modelling a pair by Calvin Klein. What is this hot new pant codename, "cargo"? It's the combats we've all been wearing since 1995. "Why not test drive an inexpensive pair?" suggests Harper's. While you're at it, why not really go wild and wear them with trainers?

Combats are now as mainstream as jeans. They aren't new, but they aren't going away. While we're hovering around your lower portions, it's time to talk drawstring. Apart from the parachute silk mutations, combat pants are too heavy for summer. The drawstring is a nice, relaxed alternative and it is in every collection this season. So what are we waiting for?

Well, for one thing, drawstrings are too good to be true. They are unisex, inexpensive and as comfortable as your favourite pyjamas. Marks & Spencer do them in 100 per cent linen for pounds 40. But beware. "If you have a nice, tight toned body, then fine," says Time Out fashion writer Damian Foxe. "But the more generously cut drawstring pants have a habit of sinking between your butt cheeks. It's not very attractive to see big bums wiggling under white linen."

Drawstrings are deceptive because they look so easy. On a lithe girl who can wear them pushed to hipster shape they are divine. But cinched at the waist, they do emphasise the breadth of hip and bottom. That's why it is more chic to wear them with a piece that covers the waist area.

Damian Foxe is a man who has really considered drawstring for men. "Unlike combats, which are structured, the drawstring pant doesn't have a crotch. So, again, you're in problems unless that area is covered. In the lighter colours and fabrics, natural light will shine through drawstring pants, which is fine if you have something to show off. I prefer the darker pants, particularly the glazed linen pair by Jigsaw menswear (pounds 85)."

The cardinal sin of drawstring is tucking anything in under the waistband. A generously cut T-shirt that stops at the thigh looks right, particularly if it's a viscose silky knit. Shirts for women are more tailored this season. However, a sheer big shirt gives more of an indication that there is a body beneath all that fabric.

The most successful drawstring pants have some degree of fit about them. They don't balloon from the waist like the Hindenberg. Get yourselves down to Press & Bastyan for their stone linen-mix drawstrings (pounds 95). Yes, Style Police knows you can get them for pounds 20, but these definitely don't ride up your bum.

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