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Jeans that put muffin tops, cracks behind you

PHILADELPHIA (MCT) — The proliferation of high-end denim brought with it two fashion plagues: the muffin top and its first cousin, plumber's pant.

For those of you who may not be up to fashion snuff, muffin tops are love handles that gush over too-snug waistbands and single-handedly eviscerate the sex appeal of an exposed midriff. Not cute.

Plumber's pant, equally evil, happens when an ample tush forces the waistband down, exposing the dreaded crack. Never cute.

I suffer from the latter.

That is why when I got word that three Philadelphia moms had created M'Chic jeans, a surefire remedy for muffin top and related maladies, I had to check them out.

The trio stitched a band of breathable, heavy-duty sports spandex to the waistband of dark stretch denim. The result, not to be confused with maternity pants, is a pair of jeans topped with a stretchy tube.

I broke into a sweat pulling the tube-with-jeans over my ample hips. But when I smoothed the spandex over my belly, everything got sucked in. (Insert slurping sound here.) I could sit down, bend over even.

"Why should you have to be model-skinny to feel good and look good in your jeans?" asked Cheryl Williams, 39, the brain behind the britches. "Our dream is for all women to look slim and at the same time be comfortably chic."

Amen to that.

Williams got the idea to modify trousers in early 2008. After giving birth to her third child, she was feeling a little frumpy. Her then-husband — they divorced later that year — even complained about the extra pudge.

"That made me angry," Williams said. "I just had three 9-pound babies and I was running a household; it was nearly impossible for me to have a model-perfect body."

Frustrated, Williams — who is probably about a size 6, if that — tried everything to manage her mommy pooch, from uncomfortable girdles to tube tops.

Nothing worked to her liking. One day, she and friend Meredith Cole got the idea of sewing a stretchy material on some jeans from Wal-Mart. She put them on and instantly felt slimmer. Then she did the same thing with a pair of trousers. That worked, too. Williams started wearing her body-slimming pants everywhere.

But it was her father, Ken Williams, who suggested that she might have a business deal on her hands.

"The jeans made her feel so much better about herself," said her father, who lives in Mount Laurel, N.J., and runs a construction business. "She had other girlfriends that were in the same boat, and I just thought it was a good idea."

Williams, a registered nurse turned stay-at-home-mom, immediately went into production mode. With about $100,000, mostly from her father, she sourced fabric and denim, and after finding a Pennsylvania-based pattern-maker, created a prototype. From there, M'Chic was born. Motto: Muffin tops are for eating, not wearing.

"Originally, I wanted to save all the moms and housewives of the world from being called fat and wavy," Williams said over Cherry Coke Zero at her Swedesboro, N.J., home. Cole, 31, was there, as well as the company's third partner, Tracey Kerr, 39.

The jeans retail for $89 and range in size from extra small to XXL. The spring line will be available in 17 boutiques along the East Coast.

"The customers absolutely love them," said Anna Russo, owner of Salon 365 in the northern New Jersey town of Roselle Park. Russo, who sold all but three pairs of the fall 2009 shipment, is anxiously waiting for her spring order to arrive.

"Women who have a fuller middle and those that have had children and not quite gotten rid of it feel so much more secure."

Williams had 1,000 pairs of the fall line made at a plant in the Dominican Republic, and now the business partners have 7,000 on order at a new manufacturing plant in Guatemala. This month the trio plan to take their pink-accented presentation booth to the granddaddy of all sportswear trade shows: Magic, in Las Vegas.

There, they will introduce an expanded spring line that includes additional washes as well as a skinny-leg jean, two styles of capris, shorts, and a black tankini-style bathing suit.

I've worn my M'Chics twice, and the comfort and fit are good. The stretch denim is soft and the dark wash has a definite slimming effect. I found the faux pockets strange — I'm a pockets girl — but Williams said the faux ones make for a smoother fit. They also don't have the expected button/zipper combo — you pull these on.

And that creates one small problem. I wore my jeans the day I sat through the three-hour blockbuster Avatar. When I got up, Mother Nature hollered, and let's say it was a close call.

For more information about M'Chic, go to www.mchicfashion.com or call 856-981-9056.

(c) 2010, The Philadelphia Inquirer.