XCVI is one of those brands you wanna love. "We create clothes that can be worn every day in a thousand different ways," they promise. "Clothes that feel comfortable all day long. Clothes that can be worn from day to evening, can be dressed up or down. Clothes that are versatile." Founded in 1996 (or XCVI) by Gita Zeltzer on L.A.'s Melrose Avenue, she was inspired to make "everyday" stuff that didn't look the part. Since they already had me at "comfortable" followed closely by "versatile", I admit I was already biased before receiving a pair of the Shona skinny pants to try.
Quick backstory: I'm perpetually on the hunt for flattering black pants that walk that fine line between looking smart without being too "dressy" and comfy without being sloppy. Also, you should be able to rock them with a heel or tone-on-tone sneaker. But nor do I want to be forced to choose between feeding my fashion habit or myself. *sigh* A tall order, I know.
However, when these arrived, they looked cute and weren't stoopidly priced. So far, so good. I slipped them on. Comfy! The fabric is a soft poplin that is mostly cotton (so they breathe) with 4% spandex for stretch. The fit is slouchy-chic with pockets (I kinda hate on pants when they're missing front-pockets for me to slouch around in) and they have a snazzy panel about 3" wide of same-fabric ruching down the front of each leg (in the closeup at left), which gives the pant a sort of motocross feel.
And now for the Final Test: flats and heels. Passed with flying colors. So much so, I wouldn't hesitate to bring them on a trip. While the placket-covered zipper says "proper" pant, the waistband hides a lil' secret: elastic - can you say: "able to breathe on a long flight somewhere fabulous?" And I know a thing or two about exotic travel & living out of a single backpack. I've hiked the Inca Trail; sailed in Indonesia, Greece & the Galapagos; safari'd in Tanzania; ridden bad-tempered camels on the steppe in Kazakhstan; bargained in the souks of Morocco & the markets of Moscow; hitchhiked in Turkey; zipped around Tasmasia on an afternoon-tea tour (of my own devising); stayed on a houseboat in Kashmir; visited beautiful temples throughout Burma & India; played a few chukkers of New Year's Day polo on elephants (!) in Nepal...and that's just for starters. (Ask me sometime about what it's like to live in Riga, Latvia or the best time to pay a visit to Dracula's castle in Transylvania).
So if you're looking for a black pant that's go-everywhere (including a visit to a vampire) and that is easy to launder (these are machine-washable), totally try the XCVI Shona. (One note: They already fit kind of slouchy when you first get them & then stretch a bit, so if you want less slouch to your look, I would suggest going down a size.)
But if you're going to be in the vicinity of Thousand Oaks, Cali, you can try on stuff from the brand for yourself at their pop-up shop in The Oaks Mall until September 30th, where XCVI designers will be on hand to answer your questions.
They will also be hosting a variety of fun events, including: yoga classes by Bodysattva Healing Center, seminars on green living, performances by local musicians & organic juice tastings. Be sure to snag a chair-massage (In Touch massage & Day Spa), Microdermabrasion Hand Facials (GoGirl Facials), reiki (The Body Defined) and check out the special new flavor created just for XCVI from Cupcake & Cookie.
- Lesley Scott