Cambrian: Opinion

Finding good leisure pants is no leisurely task

Kathe Tanner
Kathe Tanner

After weeks of peculiarly warm winter weather, it was finally cold outside. Despite the stiff Polar Express winds in mid-February, I was grateful for the change.

But I was sulking anyway. My much-loved, stretchy velour leisure pants — the ones that had kept me warm through howling winds, cold snaps like this one and even rain and snow — those pants were ripe for retirement.

And frankly, without them, my butt was freezing.

Mind you, it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme, just another of those irritating little personal paper cuts of life. But still …

Those upscale sweat pants are history, not even good enough for the pajama drawer. The drawstring on the pants has drawn for the last time. The elastic has lost its stretch and snap. The fabric is permanently saggy-baggy in the knees and seat.

No question. I need a new pair.

These days, that’s so much easier to say than to do.

Fashions have ebbed and flowed a lot during since I bought those sweats a couple of decades ago, but my sense of style has stayed pretty much the same ... classic and comfortable, but with attitude.

I had foolishly assumed that leisure-pant designs hadn’t changed much over the years. Hah!

My warmly cushy-comfy and reasonably flattering pants (or as flattering as any sweats can be) were from a well-established catalog which, while still around, unfortunately doesn’t offer that style anymore.

Flipping through recent catalogs, I saw lots of basic (aka ugly) sweats, snug black yoga pants with a stretchy white band from waist to hipline (eeek!) and harem pants so big and baggy, I’d have looked like a clown in them and taken flight in a stiff breeze.

And I got the giggles over skin-tight, were-they-painted-on leggings that strangle the waist, bear-hug the hips, showcase every speck of cellulite on the thighs and derriere, and wrap the calves like Kinesio athletic tape.

Spandex notwithstanding, the leggings undoubtedly would have split from front to “oh my!” if I’d so much as sneezed, let alone bent over to retrieve my battered dignity lying there on the floor.

And the fabrics! I like bright prints, yes, but not encasing my backside, thank you.

You see, I’m quite short and rather round.

The vision of ample me in form-fitting stretch leggings is mind-boggling.

Add vivid, all-over patterns of fluorescent zigzags or stripes, fireworks or jigsaw-puzzle pieces, emojis, skulls or flames, Candycrush designs or heaven help me, rubber duckies … well, I’d be diving for cover, under the covers, for life.

Aren’t there any simple, slightly sleek but not too form-fitting black velour sweat pants that I can pull on in a hurry and enjoy wearing all day, but which look classically good enough for a quick trip to the grocery store? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t want:

▪  Pockets (I don’t need the extra bulk there, thanks).

▪  Zippers.

▪  Elastic or cuffs at the bottom of each leg.

▪  Fancy-schmancy embroidery, studs, stones, glitter, bells or whistles.

I do want:

▪  Warm, plush, soft, stretchy fabric that’s not heavy or restrictive.

▪  A drawstring waist for security.

▪  Pant legs that are already the right length, so I don’t have to do major cut-and-hem maneuvers … stylish pants that skim the legs, but have enough flair and flare to camouflage athletic-shoe clunkiness below.

▪  And enough room so I can breathe and sit down without risking inadvertent surgery-by-seam in a sensitive location.

Looking online, even with all kinds of defining parameters, my search got 544,000 hits on Google. How exhausting!

I tried L.L. Bean and Land’s End, Macy’s and Target, Athleta, Amazon, Old Navy, Nordstrom and more.

No luck.

I give up.

Somewhere in storage is my dusty sewing machine. It’s considerably older than my eldest son, and spiders have probably produced hundreds of generations in the machine’s nether regions.

I think I remember how to sew, having made my own wedding and graduation dresses. Since I can’t find sweat pants to replace the ones I’ve loved all these years, then I’ll just jolly well have to make the new ones myself, won’t I?

Gulp. Wish me luck. I hope they won’t look like a funky parachute filled with wind. The problem with making the sweats myself is if I look foolish in the finished product, I can’t return them.

But alas, by the time I actually find the sewing machine, the right pattern and fabric, my pincushion and super-duper sewing scissors … and enough the time to make the pants … the weather will probably be hot again.