Sporty Stripes

Though sports have never really been our strong suit, addressing spring's many athletic-inspired trends is a game we love playing. Consider the focus of today's Microtrend report-side-striped trousers-for example. These pants aren't the "Hit Me Baby One More Time" track pants of the late '90s (perish the thought). This time around, sporty trousers have sprinted into the high-fashion realm, and we couldn't be more thrilled with the wide range of stylish designer iterations. Fashion insiders like Erin Wasson and Leigh Lezark are going for the gold with their sporty stripes, from billowy trousers to two-tone denim versions, and we think you should too. Game on!

While side-striped pants had a major presence in the Resort 12 collections-see: Prabal Gurung, Alberta Ferretti, and Yigal Azrouel-they received an equal amount of love on the S/S 12 runways too. At Isabel Marant, languid drawstring trousers, like the bright blue Pants ($605, 212.219.2284) shown above, epitomized cool comfort, but when paired with the delicate sheer Lace Top ($1195, 212.219.2284) and sleek Rio Sandals ($890, 212.219.2284) they felt more downtown chic than track and field. We can say the same thing about the black and white ensemble Liya Kebede wore at the amfAR New York Fashion Week gala in February. While her Lanvin Black Washed Flowing Silk Satin Trousers ($3260) perfectly channel the season's sporty look, her decision to add the Ecru Washed Georgette Crepe Silk Top ($3870, 646.439.0380) and strappy heels (both from the Lanvin S/S 12 collection) elevates the entire outfit for a look that is equal parts soignee and laidback.

In addition to upgrading these casual trousers with sophisticated and feminine accents, you can also embrace an edgier styling method a la Erin Wasson and Leigh Lezark. The former, seen here at the February BCBMAXAZRIA F/W 12 show, put her signature model-off-duty aesthetic on display when she paired her vintage bright blue pants with a low-cut Helmut Lang top, tuxedo-style jacket by BCBG, and Givenchy zip-up ankle boots. We love that the finished look resembles a fashion-forward bandleader outfit! Lezark, on the other hand, created a simple and sleek haute biker look for her appearance at a Hudson Jeans event in New York. The model/DJ's Hudson LouLou Tuxedo Crop Super Skinny Jeans ($198) in Burgundy with Phosphorescent Pink stripe paired with a leather jacket and black pumps made for an on-point day-to-night outfit.

Of course, you always have the option to play up the casual factor of this microtrend too; just be sure to keep Fearne Cotton and Zanna Roberts Rassi's stylish outfits in mind when putting together your own look. For an afternoon stroll in London late last month, Cotton went for a cosy and comfy look, teaming her Hudson LouLou Tuxedo Crop Super Skinny Jeans ($198) in Olive with Phosphorescent Yellow stripe with American Apparel's Unisex Fisherman's Pullover ($78) in Navy and Vans' Checkerboard Authentic Shoes ($47) in Pewter/Black. While Cotton's outfit is perfect for a low-key weekend outing, an easygoing ensemble featuring track pants works well for a fashion event too, as Roberts Rassi recently demonstrated. The Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor turned up at the BCBGMAXAZRIA F/W 12 show in French Connection trousers, a Julien Macdonald blazer, and an oversized White + Warren scarf, resulting in a look that's relaxed yet still very fashionable.

Ready to earn your racing stripes? We thought so, which is why we rounded up a must-see selection of side-striped pants for your shopping delight! First things first: we think Zara's Trousers with Contrasting Ribbon ($60), Topshop's Side Stripe Ankle Grazers ($76), and Washborn's Side Stripe Trousers ($90) are an excellent assortment of affordable options. If you can invest a bit more, we'd like to direct you to Anthropologie's Tuxedo Wide-Leg Pants ($248) in Ivory with Black Stripe, which would look chic with a fitted tank and heels for the office, and Elizabeth and James' Elson Sport Trousers ($325), which look a lot like Kebede's drool-worthy Lanvin pair. We're also fond of the tailored cut of A.L.C.'s James Pants ($465), and think Rag & Bone's Neon-Striped Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans ($200) are a top-notch pick too. Finally, Sonia Rykiel's Contrast-Trimmed Crepe Straight-Leg Pants ($1195) in Black with Orange and Pale Yellow Stripes are an investment-worthy option and bring a luxurious twist to the season's sporty look.-Jessica Baker

Photo of Fearne Cotton, courtesy of Bauer Griffin; photo of Leigh Lazark, courtesy of Getty; photo of Liya Kebede, courtesy of Splash News; photo of Zanna Roberts Rassi, courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency; Isabel Marant runway photo, courtesy of Isabel Marant.

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