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Comfort Zone
Wall Street Journal
Lauren Lipton
September 14, 2007

"Lounge pants" is something of a misnomer. Plenty of women sport this ubiquitous pajama-sweatpants hybrid while working at home, walking the dog or driving the kids to school. U.S. retail sales of women's loungewear were $418 million from August 2006 through July, up 6% over the prior 12-month period, according to the NPD Group, a market-research company.

The thing is, few styles are versatile enough for all of these activities, which has resulted in far too many women venturing out in sloppy garments best reserved for a night alone in bunny slippers eating a carton of ice cream.

We shopped for five pairs comfy enough to snooze in but stylish enough for a quick foray out in public. We soon learned that this combination can cost $80 or $90 a pop. And we still didn't find our Holy Grail.

The thick, loose, cotton/Lycra pants from lucy were certainly modest enough for the grocery store but we found them frumpy. In contrast, the Calvin Klein Underwear pair, made from a gossamer-weight blend of modal and Lycra, would be a dream to nap in but were not suitable for outdoors. The same went for the Pima-cotton pair from ADAM, billed as perfect for air travel. Uh, no. Why not just stroll through the terminal in your nightie?

Our Best Overall, the $89 James Perse loungers, were close-cut enough that with a long sweater to cover the decorative front fly, they'd do in public. Best Value goes to the American Apparel cotton drawstring pants. At $28, the price didn't make us tense.

Fine jersey Relaxe pant (Best Value)
American Apparel
americanapparelstore.com; 888-747-0070
$28; standard shipping adds $7

The good: T-shirt weight, 100% cotton pants with a drawstring waist were neither too baggy nor too skimpy and would do for a quick run to the end of the driveway. Made in USA.
The bad: The fabric wasn't as silky as the ADAM pants or many of the other blends. (The company says the fabric holds its shape better than pima does.) Very low rise, at two inches or more below the navel.
The shopping: We're not prudish, but it's hard not to be put off by this company's trademark suggestive photos of glassy-eyed girls.
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