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1948 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622


Boutique by day, event and gallery space by night, Ad Hoc offers a selection of hand-picked clothing, home goods, and accessories, as well as a gallery and event space for local artists.

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How-To : Paperbag Pants/Waists

Kat Heil

As the slow and steady march towards a different way we look at "fit" and style continues, Paperbag pants, skirts and waistlines are an old school concept retro-fitted for today's market. Most women will balk immediately at the thought of putting volume or pleats near the waist, but times are changing, and the waist as we know it is not longer the only way to define fit or tailoring.

Paperbag waists are a throw-back to the growth of the female work force, the fight for women's rights, and fashion choices as feminism. They come from a time when women were choosing comfort, needed mobility and refused to let the men have all the fun. Today they represent a glamorous women, a design oriented one, or cutting edge comfort.

The blog MAN REPELLER says so beautifully "Because these are the Netflix and Chill of pants. They give you the best excuse since “We’re Closed” to not visit your tailor, they provide ample opportunity to show off new belts or old scarves, and, if you’re not squeamish about smelling like PB&J, they can stay true to their name and store your lunch." They are versatile, sexy and comfortable. And they ARE flattering.

So now that you're beginning to fall in love, how the heck do you wear them?

The Paperbag waist uses it height (because a true paperbag should ALWAYS be high-waist) to compliment or create a waist for anyone, and the pleating helps elongate the leg. Often sold with tie belts already attached, it feels like wearing your boyfriends dress pants. Belts are NOT necessary, though they are always an excuse for more accessories and can help really push that baggy and bunched feeling, making you appear smaller.

Although traditionally paired with a more fitted or cropped top (see gorgeous, perfect human Chrissy Tegan above!), don't be afraid of tucking in a looser top, either entirely, just to the front, or off to the side.  This again helps makes one look tiny - by nipping in at the high, true waist, and allowing the rest of the fabric to flow about you, clinging gently to curves and then billowing behind creating movement.

There are all kinds of lengths too! Go for a wide leg for a dressier or more glamorous style, a more tapered version to turn-up at calf height for a casual and comfortable look. They also come in wide-leg culotte versions and shorts! ANY heel height, shoe or sandal looks amazing, though currently we LOVE a good espadrille/wedge or a sleek slip-on flat.

We are slowly re-defining the shapes we consider flattering, and are changing what "fit" means. Comfort is just as important as good style, and one need not be compromised for the other. If you need to find a classic item that still feels edgy and trendy - look to the Paperbag pant as the first piece you buy to start you on your style journey.

(We do not own any of these pictures!)