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Jun 3, 2010

Harem Scarem: ACT II, Scene 1



Quick -- your gut reaction:  Yes?  No?  Maybe, on a bus and truck tour of "The King & I"?

I whipped this muslin up yesterday from Simplicity 4788 (I needed a break from drafting skirts), and I must say, they look just like the pattern envelope.  I used a cotton poly sheet that doesn't have much drape, so you have to picture these in something that hangs a little better, like crepe. 

I know many of you have strong feelings about men in harem pants; in fact, I think you're more open to men in pencil skirts.

Here's what they look like before adding pleats, casing, and cord -- big.  The pattern calls for some decorative trim as well, which of course I would want to include for the full Yul Brynner effect.



One more time:



Not to be confused with...



I think these could work in a darker color and with a very preppy look on top: a formal button down shirt and rep tie...maybe a blue blazer.  And a walking cane.  And a bowler.  And Mary Poppins.  Yes, yes...I can see it now.

The real name of these, since you're dying to know, is zouave pants, named after a French army regiment in Algeria in the Nineteenth Century.  And a variation of them was even worn in the American Civil War.  History notwithstanding, they look like something you'd wear if you lived in a lamp.

But seriously, they're quite comfortable; everything between your knees and your waist has lots of breathing room, as you can imagine.  And you never have to worry about VPL.

I think this one deserves one more iteration, don't you?

Any other accessories I might add to pull this off?  I'm all ears.

And pleats.

Sing along!

63 comments:

  1. I don't know Peter, it seems you can pull off just about any outfit. I hated it when you blogged about making these. Ick! Ick! But I have to give it to you, they look "not so bad".

    I've got a hat my son brought home from Afghanistan that might go great with this outfit. :)

    "It's a whole new world"

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  2. Just my humble opinion. But, well, 'no'.

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  3. You've officially made my day and it just started. I think they are very cool. Breezy even. An Yul in the morning. Aaaahhhhh! Surpurb! ~HLT

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  4. Now find some drapey Thai silk and make some already :)

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  5. You forgot a camel, it a must with these pants.
    Again, a big huge fat NO.

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  6. What Cidell said. The bagginess gives off a diaper vibe. Yul's pants are more like long bloomers. I'm trying to decide whether there's more fabric in Deborah Kerr's dress or your zouave pants ... lol.

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  7. My first reaction, I admit, was revulsion BUT (don't forget the but!) Perhaps if you made them a smidgen narrower and less "skirt with leggings" looking, they could work. I feel like all of the zouave that I have seen on sites like the Sartorialist are slightly more form fitting (a la http://www.refinery29.com/img/zouave_instory2.jpg) and thus more modern (nothing against Lawrence of Arabia, of course!)

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  8. yay! I love the King and I!

    not going to comment on the pants though. can't. honestly.

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  9. Maybe just a simple black or gray tee? Whatever, I'm just excited that you're making 'em!

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  10. I think they could be pretty fun. This muslin, as Susan says, give off a skirt with leggings vibe. I would take a couple of inches off the inside crotch panel so they don't bag quite so much in the middle. Then take about an inch off the top waistband so they don't droop so much. Make them up in some dark Thai silk as LHC says, and pair them with some preppy pieces.

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  11. Have to say, I hated the idea of these, but made up they're kind of witty! (And pre-gathering, they look like pants for an elephant.) Worn with the right attitude, this can totally work, especially in a darker, drapier fabric as you intend.

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  12. I think you look better in the pencil skirt. If you really must wear those pants, make the fez to wear with them.

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  13. What you REALLY need is an eye patch and a parrot. Make them out of red and wear a poet shirt with a belt. Hang some sharp pointy things and walk around with a beer mug and say YARRRRR a lot.

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  14. Lol you are right. I am more open to men in pencil skirts.

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  15. LOL, Lady Katza.

    Yes, yes: narrower, shorter, higher, silkier...got it!

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  16. While agreeing with all the above-suggested alterations (esp. a dark grey silk) I love these on you. Would like to see the pouf reined in a bit.

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  17. Oh my! Peter, I never thought you'd take the Balmain pants suggestion seriously! Nevertheless, here in Rotterdam I see everywhere people with pants less diapery than the harem pants but roomier than the boyfriend pants (does this make sense?) paired with a fitted blazer and I love it. Something like this http://www.shopistanyc.com/2009/12/high-waist-boyfriend-pants.html

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  18. Please don't wear these next Saturday.

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  19. Um, no. You asked for gut reaction. That was it. I think there's just too much pouf, both width-wise and in that it comes too far down the leg. You look happy in them, though, I will say that.

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  20. Like another commenter, my first thought was NONONONONONONO. But after I stopped screaming at my computer, I took a second look and decided they weren't completely awful. I think you may be the only person (I feel) I know who would be able to pull off this look.

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  21. Ok, the first picture I absolutely hated, but then when I saw the full-length picture, I surprised myself but thinking they'd actually be okay, especially with what you described wearing them with. I still don't think they'd be my favorite, but who knows? Go for it.
    (p.s. I only recently discovered your blog and I love it! Thanks for the inspiration - I've done way more sewing the past week since I started reading your blog than I have in years.)

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  22. Love your talent and drive . . . . but HATE the pants. (Sorry!)

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  23. Yeah, I'm sorry. I have to go with no on these. The construction is great! The model is fantastic! The look? Yick.

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  24. I think I like the King 'n I's bloomer-y pants better. You should try to find a pattern for those! However, I think these are still totally salvagable if you eliminated some of the fabric in the middle.

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  25. My reaction was similar to Kate's. I didn't like them until I saw them in the full-length photo. They actually look good on you! (This from the person who actually made - and wore - the MC Hammer pants in high school out of some shiny satiny clownish fabric. But I loved them! I think I wore mine with a solid t-shirt and patent loafers. LOL Thank goodness no pictorial evidence exists.)

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  26. Pace yourself, kids, it's still early. ;)

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  27. I won't comment on my actual feelings about harem pants, but you are FEARLESS. Go Peter!

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  28. The pic of you barefoot and unshaven ... I think you'd look completely at home on top of a mountain. Standing next to a Yak.

    I would say No to a whole wardrobe of these pants, but one pair made up and worn with the rest of the outfit you describe sounds like fun. You've proven you can wear anything and these are no exception (so I hate you for that, OK?). But I actually kind of like them on YOU. However, on my DH? Hahahahahaha!!

    I'd even like to see you/Cathy in the Yul's and/or Deborah's outfits too. ;-) TKAI = one of my favorite movies. (I'm named after her BTW.)

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  29. Actually, I like the the way they look made up in a sheet. But, no. If you snagged a role in a revival of The King and I, then yes! Otherwise, I have to say, "When would you wear them?" But hey, you did a great job on making them. I love that for you, sewing is a recreation.

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  30. You're right about the pencil skirts. Weird. But a bunch a middle-aged sewers from middle-wherever are into men in skirts more than men in harem pants. Huh?

    By the way, I was perusing this last night, Fashion Since 1900, and all I could think was: what should be Cathy's next look? What would be stunning yet unexpected? I've got a couple ideas I'll post next week. It's an interesting book. The drawings are weird. The clothes look good but the people look like lemurs. http://www.amazon.com/Fashion-Since-1900-Complete-Sourcebook/dp/0500513457

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  31. Yes, but never with high-top sneakers (not that you'd do that anyhow).

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  32. OMG! I used a very similar pattern for pants for the Dromios in my theater company's Arabian Night's-inspired production of "Comedy of Errors"!

    Your pattern looks a lot more simple. The one I used was Folkwear's Algerian Suit pattern. The entire top of the pants pleated into the waistband - 5 yards of fabric got pleated to fit a 38 waist. It took forever! I didn't make it any easier on myself by using a thick cotton duck. Oy. Pics of the completed project are here: http://www.sewsewdef.com/?p=47

    I also made the connection with breakdancers and traditional Northern African clothing in my post. It was really interesting to research! I would love to take a class on influences on American clothing through the years. Maybe I just need to get that MFA in costume design after all :)
    ~Alyssa, www.sewsewdef.com

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  33. I really wanted to say 'No' but I can't, they suddenly seem practical (last Sunday 96 next Sunday supposed to be 100...). Now I understand why my DH's golf shorts have a crotch that start halfway to his knees!

    ladykatza! Speaking of pirates, my DH is a big intimidating guy with long hair and an eye patch. We were shopping in this cute little gift shop and he was approached by this adorable little boy who asked if he was a pirate. My DH said that indeed he was and that he was shopping for supplies. We could hear the little boy telling him mother he had just met a real pirate, cool!

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  34. I was skeptical when I saw you were going to make these, but I have to say, after you styled the muslin, I could see how it would work. The silhouette needs to be a little narrower at the top, but billowy near the knees--I think that if the fabric were drapier, this might take care of it. Have you considered making these from a knit, like a cotton jersey-t-shirt fabric? When you wear these, the formfitting or closely fitting or tailored. I like the sash that you are wearing at the waist. I can't wait to see you what you make!

    Rose in SV

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  35. I really like that these pants have pockets. It's those extra little details, right?

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  36. What a great halloween costume or outfit for a fancy dress occasion but that's it. The genie in the lamp just comes to mind.

    I really prefer you in the pencil skirt; very classy.

    These...not for everyday wear.

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  37. OMG, they are breathtaking. ;-)

    This weekend, I saw a young woman carry off a pair of those pants in a soft, lightweight jersey. We were at the beach and she pulled it over her swimsuit while when she left the beach. In addition to no VPL, they also don't stick to damp swimsuits.

    I remember that was the only version of them that I liked in the 1980s were the soft jersey ones. Don't you swim several times a week? Perhaps they can be your apres swim cover-up.

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  38. My gut says no. But that's just me! They DO look like a skirt with leggings...

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  39. I think a dark fabric with more drape, would look fab!

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  40. I love the living in a lamp comment!! I actually think you did a fantastic job and I say go for it with the whole ensemble as you described. If anyone can pull it off, you are the one!

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  41. well, what timing, here's a gent wearing such pants - looks kind of cool, actually

    http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/2010/06/on-streetblack-on-white-japan.html

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  42. Not bad for a muslin, but use something with more drape for the final. Peter O'Toole would be proud!! Yul's Thai pants are a totally different silhouette, more of a sarong type thing.

    Have fun and keep being fearless!

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  43. I'm wondering whether I've totally lost my perspective by living in Europe for too long, but I must admit I love 'em. Sadly, I can't get one night in Bangkok out of my head now. At any rate, the world's your oyster.

    Karen in Paris

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  44. It takes a lot to tear me away from my own blog or a sewing project, but my dear (God forbid i say "old") friend James Bosco who works at Vogue Patterns just turned me onto your blog. Where have I been? My, but you're stylish! If you are interested I have some old patterns I modeled for in the '80's. I think one pattern was the uniform for that radical LDS camp out west... pretty little thing, well below the knee and a fetching 3/4 sleeve.
    Well, I am newly inspired. Thank you. Sew on.

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  45. What fun!
    Like others I would suggest a somewhat softer fabric and I think the billowing part should (almost) cover your knees.

    But even as they are they look much more fun than the ones on the sartorialist.

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  46. I LOVE them and you look awesome!!

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  47. The pants are wonderful and you look great - plus they are interesting and FUN! (my general bias for more FUN in everything!).
    The pencil skirt was also fab - very sexy.
    Keep going bold friend

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  48. Agree with making them black - they need that edgy factor. I think you can pull these off.

    When I say 'pull these off' I mean 'wear them with style' just in case that gets lost in translation!

    Bonus - you will be able to run fast in these :)

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  49. Whoa, Peter. Can one man possibly have too much pouf? There's a lot-o-stuff going on there! I could see them with a little less fabric and shorter. Sort of a capri style with a saucy little side slit. Of course you would have to wear them with Bass penny loafers and NO socks. The rep necktie could be used as a belt. Look out LL Bean!

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  50. I love them! Go for it! Personally, I think they would be even better (and more comfy!) in a knit blend...

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  51. My first reaction was 'NO'...much too diaperesque for fashionable you. Unlike Yul's, this pattern looks a bit...clunky.

    My second reaction was 'KILT'. 'Nuf said.

    My third (and final) reaction is, 'well, okay, if you take out some fullness AND make it in silk or anything with lots of drape.'

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  52. Particularly useful pants if you have to hide an adult diaper.

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  53. I'm a faithful follower and so I have to say these are dreadful. Friends don't let friends wear these pants. That being said, Lisette over at Vintage or Bust presented us with a female version of harem pants (Butterick 5517) and I think this would be a better choice. Cathy would be stunning in the pink version. Just my two cents. Love your blog anyway and can't wait to see what you decide.

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  54. My first reaction was OMG, but I guess I could learn to like them. I mean, consider the dress what's her name with Yul is wearing -- I'm kinda used to it & think it looks fine on her. OTOH, I would MUCH rather wear the pants than that dress. :-)

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  55. My first instinct was no - but that was due to the light colour. So I was pleased to see that these were a muslin. The light colour is too costume-y. I think they would be fantastic in a dark colour tho'. You just have to wear a fitted style tee or shirt when you wear them. Then again, I'm so used to seeing girls wearing them - the jersey version has been 'in' for about a year here in Oz.

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  56. Personally I say 'NO' to poo-catcher pants but it is entirely possible with a bit of tailoring you could pull these off. As with any left of centre outfit, it's all about the attitude. Go Peter!!

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  57. My first reaction, like everyone else, was GET. OUT. OF. TOWN. followed by cackling laughter. Then on second look, I found myself oddly intrigued that the pants are actually kind of cool. Of course, where I live, you would probably get fewer strange looks wearing the pencil skirt. But you don't live in Podunk. You live where you could actually wear those in public and be quite artistic/fashionable/quirky/etc. I say, "Harem-WEAR'em!"

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  58. My first reaction: OH honey, bless your heart.

    ...but, they're beginning to grow on me. Take a few inches (like 5 or 6) out of the center and use something dark with more drape and I think you can pull it off. Maybe you can do a photo shoot too so we can see them in action.

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  59. I love your blog and your creative vision; but would suggest perhaps a zoot suit pants concept once you've had your fill of harem pants. Here is a lovely pattern with all the fullness a man could want, but with considerably less likelihood of chafing:
    http://betsyvintage.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=147&products_id=5370
    Cheers!

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  60. Gut reaction = Oh No!

    On second glance = Oh NO! No, no.

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