October 19, 1998 12:00 PM

Having It Both Ways

Can’t decide between pants and a dress? No biggie: Wear both. The combo of pants with a dress or tunic—which popped up in the ’70s, inspired by traditional Indian garb—has become one of the year’s more improbable trends. “It’s really flattering, especially if you’re trying to hide your midsection,” says actress Holly Robinson Peete (WB’s For Your Love), who has tossed a dress over Levi’s to hide her “postpartum twins tummy” since giving birth last October.

“It’s one of my favorite looks,” agrees designer Anna Sui, whose celeb clients include Christina Ricci, Courtney Love and Madonna. “It looks really hip, like an outfit you kinda just threw on.” Hollywood fashion stylist Karin Labby likes the way dress-pants pairings send dual signals: “You can be elegant and down-to-earth at the same time.”

Not everyone is a fan, however. Actress Julianne Moore confesses she “got all tangled up” when she tried out the trend. Says Gwyneth Paltrow: “It’s one of those things that, in a year, people will be like, ‘What were we thinking?’ ”

Steven Cojocaru in Los Angeles and Sue Miller in New York City

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