As flares (bell-bottoms, boot-cut, boyfriend jeans) take over this autumn, here’s a fun, biting throwback from 2007 on the skinny jean by yours truly.
The Skinny on Skinny Jeans: They’re not Flattering!
“Skinny jeans are in!” proudly announces a pop-culture and celebrity gossip magazine, joining voices with with the likes of Vogue, InStyle, and Elle. They feature, as their latest trend-setter and standard-bearer, the very skinny Ms. Mischa Barton who seems confident in her choice of skin-tight, mid-blue denim that does nothing to flatter even her tall, statuesque, ballerina figure. On the contrary, Barton looks a bit constrained in the sadistically, or – in this case – masochistically tight pants made to wear only with flats or boots. She’s wearing flats, as the summer breeze and latest fashion has already reached L.A. Makes one wonder: Is Los Angeles this nation’s warm-weather-attire arbiter, if not dictator?
I sense that most of the nation would reply in a unanimous “Of course, it’s Hollywood”, but us New Yorkers are more cautious when it comes to the merits of Hollywood taste. Los Angelinos are the slackers perpetually in jeans and shirts, and New Yorkers are the gabardine-strapped, fashion-jean and pocket-book sporting pros: NY mixes high and nay very stylishly.
And just when jeans started to reach their true potential for fashion-wear, some industry Big Brother (of LA descent no doubt) seems bent on regressing to the days of high-waisted, skinny, badly fitted pants that wouldn’t flatter even the most graceful of figures.
The problem with skinny jeans is simple: They are unflattering in every sense and to every shape. They seem made only for showcasing stylish boots and 80s-inspired tunics and big-buckled belts – obviously trying to bring back some kind of rock n’ roll ideal. Accessorized differently, these jeans are unsuitable, unfashionable, unflattering, unless one wouldn’t mind the hooker-in high-wedges or espadrille look: Spring’s new ‘It’ shoes.
Can you pull off this style with short-heeled pumps? Definitely! You must also include a longer than hip-length shirt and some kind of belt or hobo bag to complete the mood you’re going for and hide the inherent flaws of the skinny jean. But what of petite, average and curvy ladies? If the lanky ballerina type must accessorize so much to offset the deficiencies of these jeans then one can only imagine the lengths to which the average woman must go so that she may not look awkward at best.
Barton is the perfect lank lass to illustrate my point of the flaws in this cut. She is tall, thin, curvy (she has a small waist and wide hips). She would be the hour-glass if she put on more weight and had a fuller bosom/wider chest. Nevertheless, she has the body that can pull off most wear, and yet she fails miserably with skinny jeans. Her flaws are immediately exposed: wide hip, skinny thighs that do not meet, unarched back and thus no feminine derriere. Amazing how a pair of jeans can reveal all of this. The separation of her upper thighs is highly emphasized by the tapered cut which makes her look like an inflatable walking duck. A bow-legged type suddenly emerges! How horrid! Why would a woman want to disfigure herself in the name of a passing trend?
The full-figured, derriere-blessed, and of average height woman stands to lose even more. A tapered cut tends to make one look shorter, highlights the hip and buttocks, making them look unnaturally and disproportionately big, and makes thighs look distinctively unfeminine. High heels are doomed for the closet, for the pairing of these pants with high-heeled pumps or sandals only results in the trailer-trash look. It seems that we are forever to wear boots or flats irrespective of the season. Sure, fall and winter showed that there are some cool boots out there and it truly was the season for boot-style, for one couldn’t walk through the streets of Manhattan without noticing the new myriad of colors, material, textures, styles, heights of boots displayed. But what do we do about summer?
We are told that high heels are in! Round-toe pumps, wedges, espadrilles and maybe a stringy flat here and there. Ahhhh, the flats with the ugly…..oops, skinny jeans, and the heels with a skirt. Strangely, this is quite a feminine season, but unless one is endowed with Sophia Loren’s height, bosom, waist, thighs, legs, arched back and perky buttocks, one will only succeed at looking like a dried-up penguin or duck in the jeans in mention, unless, of course, one keeps on wearing boots even in a 100 degree weather, the tunic to hide common crotch, hip and thigh problems and of course, the belt to offset the plain drab of the tunic. But must we go to such lengths so that we may wear what the fashion industry deems as the IT item of the season, when that item should have remained in the closet?
The cut didn’t flatter anyone in the 80s; it doesn’t flatter anyone today – unless of course you ARE Sophia Loren.
But America likes recycling and regurgitating the used, worn, tired and even unsuitable so much so that it has managed to create a mood of total camp for itself. Are we so out of ideas and imagination that we must keep recycling and regressing? Or are our tree-hugging and pop-culture aficionados influencing our consciousness to the point where we’ve unwittingly made a soup of oil and water? Environmentalist sentimentality coupled with money-hungry fashion-industry camp nostalgia? Preservation and grotesque capitalism?
Or is it really just a matter of no fresh, new ideas?
I admit I am partial to the boot-cut jean because of its many flaw-hiding and asset-accentuating cut. I am petite, have a typical-Mediterranean arched-back and figure….but I am petite, and therein lies the problem. I refuse to look like an inflated hoochie, which is what tapered, tight jeans look like on me. My derriere sticks out unfashionably, and looks too big in proportion to my height: so much so that I manage to look even shorter, and even infantile with my big hips and skinny-looking calves—which the jeans achieve to a T. This optical illusion I prefer to leave alone. I love the days – if i remember correctly just last summer – when the boot-cut in distressed denim, with its masculine low-rise stretched my height, and induced a sort of city-girl cowgirl’s swagger. It was the epitome of cool. The James Dean of the New York gal.
And now I’m told to go about prancing around like a 50’s Marilyn Monroe? Where’s the strength, the confidence, the cool of the new woman? The edge? No! I prefer the Brigitte Bardot of the cult “Frenchie King” to the fleshy, round, singularly non-geometrical look of miss Scarlett Johansson who desperately channels the by-gone 50s in an attempt to achieve some kind of perverse Monroe and Lolita look. Some camp is cool and some just isn’t. Bardot paved the way for the cool woman of gabardines, shades, uncurled, straight, wild hair, and straight, flared pants; The woman of both fashion and functionality; The woman of New York City.
Boot-cut jeans….give the boot to skinny housewifely tapered hoochie pants!