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This holiday season's answer to party dresses...


This holiday season's answer to party dresses are party pants. They have the advantage of eliminating the hemline issue altogether. They are also almost universally flattering because they give the illusion of a long, lean line. All the top designers have them, but the evening pants idea has trickled down to all price points. Here are some ideas and inspirations from the runways.

Universal velvet

The new evening basic -- black velvet trousers -- can be the foundation for many looks. Josie Natori, the diva of lingerie design, showed them with a lace bustier. The lingerie department is a terrific and affordable source for nighttime dressing. Think of lace, velvet and satin body suits and velour pajama tops and leggings.

Black and white, the very definition of black-tie evenings, is forever elegant. Carolina Herrera shows it in cut velvet cut close to the body. A similar level of elegance could be achieved by topping black pants with a white satin blouse. Exaggerated runway fashion is styled to get the idea across. Anna Sui showed fancifully beaded separates over not much more than a G-string. Lace pants or leggings topped by a tunic that covers the derriere would be equally sexy without being suggestive.

The holidays offer those rare occasions when extra wattage is encouraged. Mark Eisen does shine as a silver-leaf jumpsuit and zip jacket. Smaller doses of silver in a stretch top, strappy sandals or a little clutch bag can go a long way to turn up a pants set.

Start with black velvet, satin or crepe pants. Season to taste with any of the following spices:

- A beaded jacket like the one above by Oscar de la Renta

- A luxurious and fancy sweater

- Velvet ballet slippers or tall metallic mules

- A dramatic fringed stole or a feather boa. Doesn't everyone own at least one of those?

- A Chinese brocade jacket from the local ma and pa Asian store

- Anything that has a look of tinsel

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