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How Do $7 Pants Compare to Expensive Brand?

When my producer sent me an ad she'd seen in a weekly circular about $7 pants, I had to try them.

Haband is a mail-order - and now internet - company based in Pennsylvania that sells inexpensive clothing, so I ordered up a few pairs of the $7 slacks. It took two weeks to get them, but when they arrived, I put them on and instantly found them comfy.

Let's start with the material: polyester. (Can you say "machine-washable, no ironing?") The waist is high and elastic, but after carrying twins full-term and five years of the low-jeans trend, I am happy about this. The legs taper and there is a built-in crease that goes from the gathered waist to the ankle hem.

The quality is not top shelf; there are loose threads coming out of the hems and seams on all the pairs I ordered, but remember, the pants cost $7 when you buy more than three pairs. (The regular price is $9.99).

Donning a black pair of the Haband pants, I hit the streets of Walnut Creek, Calif., with my friend Liz Rodoni. I had Liz wear a $170 pair of designer slacks that also have an elastic waist, and we asked shoppers if they could tell which pair costs $7 and which costs $170.

After surveying about 30 people, the results were evenly split. Half think the Haband pants cost $170! But when we switch into a colored version of the Haband pants (this time lavender), 90 percent of the people can spot the $7 pants.

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While the black are passable as work pants when layered under a sweater or jacket, the pastel suite of colors don't pass muster in the same way. Don't get me wrong. They are functional, comfortable and well-priced, but the lighter colored pants expose design features that make them look a little dated.

Another note, these pants are not for tucking in. I love a tidy look, but high-waisted elastic pants and a tuck in are a "no-no."

My bottom line. I would wear these with a long sweater and boots or for a work day where I needed to be super comfy, but I'd still rather wear yoga pants for casual stuff. The Haband pants aren't quite hip enough to replace my more tailored work pants, but still, $7 …. Wow!

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