In pursuit of the perfect stretchy pants

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Butt seams are oddly unflattering; too tight in the thigh and yet still bunchy in the back upper thigh. Crotch was way too anatomically correct. Runs small.

Rating: 1½ stars (out of 5)

Details: $70,

Stonewear Pant

Some stores market these as Not So Tight pants and, compared with running tights, that's true. These were the only mostly cotton pants I tried and are really comfy but seem a little more "gym" than "wear everywhere." One of the two pairs I tried had an unfortunate "keyhole" shape at the crotch, but the other was better. I want to try Stonewear's new Breathe Pant that I spotted in the fall catalog.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Details: $68,

Lululemon Still Pant

If they weren't so very flared — not great for exercise — I'd rate these 3-1/2. The roll-down waistband is a nice option. They run a little large. Beware: The Lululemon website and the stock in stores is limited ever since they recalled a lot of their pants in March because the fabric was too sheer. And if you are tempted by the Out & About pants ($128!), they are not the wear-everywhere pants the name suggests. In general, I think Lululemon products are overpriced.

Rating: 2½ stars (out of 5)

Details: $98,

Lessons along the way

•Sizing is crazy and inconsistent. You might be a small or a size 4 in one style and a medium or size 8 in a similar style, sometimes even made by the same manufacturer.

•Because of the above (and variations in human anatomy), whether you buy online or in store, there will be a lot of trial and error.

•Athleta and Lululemon offer free hemming, a $10 or so savings if you don't wear a standard length.

•Stretchy pants aren't for everyone, but there are styles out there for those of us who have things to hide.

•Pay close attention to visible panty lines and the too-tight crotch, and bend over to test for sheerness.

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