There's something so wrong -- but ohh so right -- about wide-leg jersey pants.

The look started in Pilates and yoga classes, explains Genevieve Yraola, senior fashion market editor of Shop Etc. magazine. They're deliciously comfortable, flattering and so forgiving. And unlike, say, a Juicy Couture sweat suit, they can be worn to Starbucks and the office.

Which helps explain how the pants -- in both gaucho and palazzo form -- grew into a "spa" collection and then made their way to mainstream America.

"You don't have to have an 18-year-old's body," says Yraola, pointing out the wide waistband. "They're really forgiving around the hip." And with constricting denim and pencil skirts clogging our closets, "they're a little more breezy and not so form-fitting," agrees Jennifer DeBarge-Goonan, Marshalls' style expert. An absolute compromise between a skirt and pants.

They work for both casual and dressy. "I've seen them worn with heels, flats and tucked into boots," says DeBarge-Goonan. Pair them with a chunky knit, turtleneck or cropped jacket, suggests Yraola. "Everything else has to be slim to balance the wider silhouette."

They are the perfect transition piece. As the weather turns chilly, add a pair of fishnets or argyle hose with your gauchos, says DeBarge-Goonan. Or some knee-high boots. "You can be as bold -- or not -- as you want to be."

-- Janelle Erlichman Diamond

From the top: Xhilaration gaucho-style pants in ebony, $12.99 at Target; rust pants by Tempted, $24.99 at Hecht's; James Perse wide-leg full-length lounge pants in peat, $89 at; Saint Grace "Carol" pants in fern, $85 at Blush, 1089 Seven Locks Rd., Potomac, or