It doesn't take a social historian to observe that fewer people are wearing jeans than, say, a few years ago. There are fewer jeans worn to the Kennedy Center, fewer in Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, fewer jeans in high schools. Stores have reported a decline in sales, particulary the designer-label jeans.

Pants-wearing by women got it's vote of approval in the current mood during the late 1960s when Yves Saint Laurent and Andre Courreges showed straight-cut pants which the fashion avant-garde quickly adopted. It didn't take long for women generally to understand the comfort of pants in everything from poly knit to silk, from daytime wear to evening. But jeans universalized the pants look for women. And with the sanction and silhouette advanced by designers in jeans, even the most reluctant (and the most hard to fit) found the designer cuts affordable. At least in the beginning.

One thing is for sure. No matter how hard designers try to steer women away from pants into skirts of various shapes, pants have become a basic for women. (Jeans, for that matter will continue to function in many women's wardrobes as a school, weekend, after-hours kind of way to dress.)

But the decline of jeans-wearing not only reflects a response to the need to pick up our way of dress if for no other reason, the need to look better in a tougher job market, but also perhaps an overdosing on denim particularly.

Whatever the reason, there are plenty of other pant choices for spring. Revived again is the Bermuda short, guaranteed a bit more exposure this year on the crest of the preppy fever; jodphurs will range from the authentic twill variety to softened versions a la Gianni Bersace and Anne Klein; sweat pants, which teen-agers live in for studying to running to sleeping, have inspired variations from designer silks to suedes; the pants worn by men in India and neighboring countries has spun off as soft trousers that are a cross between pants and skirts; pedal pushers show up again as straight-cut pants cut off below the calf but in tight and narrow versions more like Capri pants as well. With all the running shorts around, it's likely that short shorts will show up on occasion for hot-summer dressy and informal wear.

For sure, there is life after jeans. CAPTION:

Pictures 1 through 5, Jogger-inspired pants by Ron Leal; khaki shorts by Kasper for J. L. Sport; Bengal pants by Calvin Klein; soft pants by Anne Klein, and wide pedal pushers by Kasper. Design by Alice Kresse -- The Washington Post