I bought skinny jeans the other day. Two pairs. How daring of me. Especially considering that the fashion media has been predicting the death of skinny jeans for at least two years now.
An article in BuzzFeed declared the skinny jeans trend “officially over” in July 2015. And in January the following year, Julia Hobbs in Vogue.com said she was “calling time on skinny jeans,” announcing a return to vintage inspired, “firm, dude-ranch denim.” Like Betty Grable wore in the forties. Hobbs says that we’re going back to “that lived-in and locked-in feeling you get from proper jeans.” The kind with no stretch in them. “Rigid” jeans, they’re called, which apparently “hold their shape” and “guarantee an irresistible old-fashioned anti-fit.”
Really? Rigid, locked-in, anti-fit? Does that sound appealing to you? The “anti-fit” is what I wore all through high school, when I couldn’t find a pair of jeans that fit no matter how hard I tried. And as for non-stretch jeans, that apparently hold their shape. That’s not what I remember. In university, I loved my old Levis, which were “proper jeans,” but after one or two wears the knees and the butt bagged from sitting in them, and they had to be washed and put in the dryer to regain their shape. And of course they shrank, requiring one to lay down on the bed to zip them up, a difficult and sometimes painful technique I learned from my roommate Debbie. I do agree that the stiff fabric, at least when freshly washed, will hold one’s middle in better than the lighter weight stretch jeans. But jeans as shape wear? I’m not going there, folks.
I saw a photo of Jennifer Lawrence in Harper’s bazaar in Dior “rigid,” vintage inspired, frayed-hem, no-stretch, non-skinny jeans. She. looked adorable. But then, Jennifer Lawrence looks adorable in everything. While I, on the other hand, do not. Ha.
I tried these distressed, cropped, vintage inspired, boyfriend jeans the other day at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I was trying to hold my phone steady as I snorted with laughter. Oh yeah. Not flattering. Liz and I laughed that I looked like an escapee from “Hee Haw.” You know, that campy comedy show from the seventies, like “Laugh-In,” except with country singers and pitchforks. And characters wearing jeans that looked a lot like these.

So to all those trend spotters, all those fashion prognosticators, who would have me chuck my skinny jeans, I’d like to misquote the  frequently misquoted Mark Twain, and say that reports of the death of skinny jeans have been greatly exaggerated. At least in my closet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that all those women who hate skinny jeans now have other options. Hell, I’m ecstatic that low-rise skinny jeans have virtually disappeared. But I’ll be hanging onto my high-rise skinny jeans for a while yet.
Partly that’s because I like how skinny jeans fit me. And I like stretch in my jeans. The knees don’t bag for one thing. And the waist and rear end of non-stretch jeans never fit me properly, and are too bulky for my body type. Extra bulk around my middle I do not need. I can’t get away with tucking in shirts and tees like I used to, and jeans that are bulky and loose around the middle need a top tucked in… in my opinion.
So instead of these Hee Haw jeans, I bought skinny jeans the other day when I was at Nordstrom. Two pairs.
Then, my friend Liz and I had a discussion about the reputed death of skinny jeans. Liz says that as opposed to getting rid of any one style, we should build a “wardrobe of jeans.” I’m all for that. As long as we build that wardrobe to meet our own needs, and not just to acquire the most recent trend, flattering or not.
And if vintage inspired, high-rise, rigid, non-stretch, anti-fit, dude-ranch denim jeans are not your thing either, there are other options. Thank goodness.

As you may have guessed, I’ve been doing a bit of reading about denim trends this week. I sometimes despair at all the shouty, click bait headlines, or the dictatorial ones like “8 Must-Have Statement Denim Trends.” I laughed at one “denim expert” who claimed that “the overall trend is still individuality,” but went on in the next paragraph to say that “every It girl is wearing the high-low hem right now.” Sigh.

That comment reminds me of the DIY “high-low hems” we created back in the seventies when our flared jeans were so long that we walked on them, effectively chewing off an inch or two in the back. Except that I think the updated version has the chunk cut out in the front instead of the back. So maybe ours were low-high, instead of high-low? Whatever, I loved them back in the day, and I’d not be caught dead in them now. Does that make me hypocritical, or just more evolved?

Don’t get me started. I sound like a fashion curmudgeon. These young people today… what will ever become of them?

Hmmm. Maybe they’ll grow up, work for while, retire, and start writing a blog about what they got up to when they were young.

You can check out the Pinterest board I created for my jeans wardrobe if you’re interested. Generally I pin something because I like some element of the shot, sometimes because I lust after the whole darned outfit. And it helps to pass the time when I’m on my exercise bike. Win, win, I think.
How about you folks? Do you have a favourite jeans style? Or one you’d not be caught dead in, ever? Or how about one that went from the former to the latter or vice versa? After all, we’re all evolving.


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46 thoughts on “The Death of Skinny Jeans?”

  1. I "hee hawed" ( pun intended!) over the lying on the bed to zip up jeans. My University roommate showed me this trick way back in the day and yes we walked all over the hems of our jeans! You look fantastic in your skinny jeans.

  2. I love this post, good Sunday evening reading. I too remember my 70's jeans. I remember buying my jeans at a men's store, it seemed to be the trendy thing in Northern Ontario. I do not want to recapture my teens/20's or the 'farmer in the dell' look. I'll let my nieces rock these trendier looks.BTW Uiu are looking fabulous in these recent pics in the blog and IG.

    1. Never bought men's jeans. but I do remember my girlfriend and I buying tees in the boy's department. They had that lovely shrunken look we wanted.

  3. I have and love a variety of jeans, including Levi 501s, which might qualify as non-stretch, rigid, anti-fit jeans. Except that they behave differently when I put them on — they just settle down and fly right.

    But boy, am I with you on the "goofy rules deserve to be ignored" train. It must be the rules season because the fashion blogosphere is lousy with them the last few weeks.

    I think there are two kinds of people: those who want to be told what to do / wear / eat / etc. and those who would like to experiment on themselves. And who does "what works for me" for some folks translate immediately into "everyone must do this, too"? Is that a diagnosable malady?


    1. It's always interesting to see what new rules are out there. I always follow the ones I would have followed anyway before I knew it was someone's rule:)

  4. Our love affair with denim jeans seems never ending . I can remember when they first arrived in our small U.K. town , as fashion wear that is , & my mum thought they were dreadful . After the ladylike fashions of the fifties , we jumped into them adding black jumpers & navy duffle coats . The toggles on the duffle coats were too clean & bright so we sat in the local coffee bar rubbing on cigarette ash for authenticity ! They've been a wonderful social leveler too , affordable to all .
    As to shape , I don't have your legs so can't do skinnies , much as I love them . My favourites are cigarette shaped , dark wash , lighter for summer , no gimmicky distressing or step hems & I actually prefer non stretch ( or just a tiny bit ) I know , comfort & all that but the right fit works . They do bag sometimes but after wear , whilst still warmish , I spray with water & they seem to settle down a little . If those baggy crops you hated were dark wash & worn with a more fitted top , not tucked in & perhaps a boyfriend jacket I think I would like them 🙂
    Wendy in York
    PS love that chunky bracelet

    1. I love the baggy crops on others. But my skinny ankles look pathetic in them. A fitted top under a jacket would look great with them, though. On you…

  5. You look great and modern in your jeans and the same is important to me,too
    I prefer my jeans straight (the only difference to your skinnies is around ankles,where they are,well,straight,and not tight),or a little bit boot cut-high rise and with a reasonable amount of elastane,but no polyester.
    And I take all my jeans to the seamstress to narrow them at the waist.
    It was a nightmare shopping jeans before,as well as Susan Coleman,I used to buy jeans at men's departement (women jeans were very (un)fashionable ankle lenght for me)
    There is always a possibility to do it your way and be fashionable at the same time

  6. When I read that title on IG, I had to come over to your blog and read. I adore skinny jeans and I am dreading the thought they might disappear. I know I can stock on to them and I am all for "individuality" and not following trends when it doesn't suit you, but… if I am about the only one still wearing something which is clearly dated, I don't feel comfortable either. So I am sincerely hoping they will stay. You look great in them, very slim and elegant. I laughed over your photos in the fitting room. In all fairness, it is not a good comparison. Had you rolled up the legs a little, worn the right shoes with them and a jacket, it would have been a totally different picture. I know as I have a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans which I wear to death (see my IG). But I am a jeans girl and I like a bit rougher look as well. I draw the line at those high rise "mum jeans" the media is pushing. They look horrible on anybody, even Jennifer.
    And I love Paige and J Brand as brands. In the Netherlands we also have G-star Raw and Denham which are great.

    1. Boyfriend jeans look great on you, Greetje. But those jeans I tried were so huge in the hips on me, I'd never be able to keep them up.

  7. Leslie in Oregon

    If I had legs like yours, I'd prefer skinny jeans too. And who knows, maybe I'd like jeans with a bit of stretch in them. Since I've always disliked rigid jeans, I haven't thought to try stretchy jeans. Now that you've explained the difference in how they feel, I may take the plunge! Thank you, Susan.

  8. You have just proved the point that fashion is often rubbish. The thing to do is wear what you like and what suits you. Amazing what those cropped baggy jeans do to you…and how much better your preferred style looks. Levis will do me every time and they take them up for me, free of charge, a boon when you are less than 5'2" and getting shorter every day. It has taken me years to work this out. Oh yes, I recall the days of lying in a bath of hot water to shrink my jeans and the associated horror of finding all the dye leaching out, resulting in me having to scrub for hours in case my mum found out. And lying on a bed to do the zip up, then being levered up. I think if you are still up to these tricks in the salmon run of your life, you need to have a bit of a think. Keep wearing the long, slinky jeans. They are very much you.

    1. Ha. "The salmon run of your life"… great metaphor. Especially for a girl from Atlantic salmon country. Love the image of being levered up after fastening your jeans. Also tried to bleach and shrink jeans in the bathtub… although I wasn't wearing then at the time. The bleach destroyed the cotton thread on mine, and they fell apart in no time.

  9. I highly doubt that all of us that love some stretch in our jeans (for all the reasons you mention) are going to go back to the discomfort of 'hard' denim, the annoyance of stretched out/need to be washed and dried to fit again jeans. And I love my skinnies, too. They work with boots, they look great with a lot of my tops, and they're comfortable. Comfort is king (queen?).

    I tried some wider leg pants this year, but in the end didn't buy them. If they become the new skinnies, I may have to cave, but I wore the huge elephant legs in the 70's and it's hard to imagine I'll love them again. Ha!

    You wear jeans so well and you have a great sense of what looks good on you.


  10. Couldn't agree with you more, Susan! Jeans that are too cropped, too short, aren't flattering on me either. I just ordered four pairs of black, high-rise, straight leg jeans but haven't decided which ones to send back except for one pair, NYDJ. I wore them the other day with a white blouse, collar up, and shiny gold Stuart Weitzman sandals and you would have thought I was wearing couture! Women, young and mom jeans age, went out of their way to tell me how sharp I looked. One woman even said I made jeans look elegant. I just know what looks good on me!.

    1. There are so many different style out there now.. one to make each of us look our best… we just have to find it:) Sounds like you have.

  11. The "rigid" jeans of the 70s took at least two years of continuous wear to begin to become comfortable. The fact that retailers have now convinced women to invest in jeans that already have a raw edge, which is sure to decompose quickly and thereby require replacement within a year, makes me think that this "rigid" trend won't last long, since it is incompatible with continuous consumption. Your observation about skinny ankles was a (an?) eureka moment for me. I am not nearly as slender as you in the hips and thighs, but I do have skinny ankles and look comical in cropped jeans. I am waiting for a renaissance of the straight and narrow standard-length jeans, preferably in a blend of cotton, rayon, and elastane. I find that a small percentage of rayon really gives a luxurious, non-scratchy hand to the denim. — Dianne

    1. You know, I was thinking something similar when I read that Vogue article… jeans that are meant to be worn for years seems like a turn around for our fast fashion obsessed world. And rigid with a raw hem is almost a contradiction, isn't it?

  12. I used to feel the same way about my skinnies — justified buying pairs a few years ago by my fear that predictions of their demise would come true and some of my boots would make much less sense. . . .But I don't wear skinny jeans in the summer anymore, because they're just too warm. And while they might not be conventionally flattering, I've come to love my boyfriend jeans that started as raw (rigid) denim five years ago and are only just settling into the right fade now. For me, there's no question that they hold their shape better at the knees and bum. Currently waiting to see what I'll feel about my skinnies come fall when they're so good with boots. . . . It does seem that there's still lots of tolerance for a range of cuts…

    1. You're right, Frances, there is so much tolerance now for a wide range of cuts. I remember when I first tried boyfriend jeans a couple of years ago…I was a bit behind the curve there. I tried on numerous pairs, and they just looked dreadful. I could not keep them up, even to walk out of the dressing room. And when a sales assistant suggested that they could be cinched with a belt to stay up, I just sighed. And thought if they don't fit, I ain't buying. Ha. But I was in boyfriend jean envy that you (and Lisa) could wear them so well.

  13. YOU look good in skinny jeans because you have thin legs and narrow hips, but most of us are pear shaped and have short, stumpy legs (sigh) so I have always hated skinny jeans, although I do wear them occasionally. I think boot-cut and flares are most flattering for every body type. You are correct – the jeans you're trying on in the photos do look bad. If I had your body I would be wearing skinny jeans every day! Love them on you.

  14. As so many have said you have to do what looks best and feels comfortable for your body despite what the pundits say. I like the elegance that can be achieved, even in a casual way, with wider legged pants (not jeans) but for everyday in the winter for me the best option is skinny or straight. So much easier to wear with boots when we have snow on the ground. Therefore, I hope they will stay for a while longer.

    1. I think wide legged pants look elegant as well. Just not on me. My upper body is so short, and the very widest part of me, so wide legs make me look wide all the way down, which I don't like. But never say never… one day I may find a pair with just the right cut. I agree about the snow and skinny jeans, too.

  15. As I mentioned on instagram I think skinny jeans are so easy to style, (especially in Winter and wet weather when they work so well with boots)that they're unlikely to go completely out of fashion. I'm not sure that my wide crops will have the same longevity, although I'm loving wearing them at the moment and hoping they'll work as well with boots … although probably not in the rain!

  16. Looking back at other comments has made my realise that I don't wear skinny jeans in the summer at all either accept for occasionally a cropped white pair but even those are becoming a second choice after white wide crops …just above the ankle or white chinos …again, rolled just above the ankle! Like Frances, I find them too warm.

    1. You know, I may be lumping too many styles into the term "skinny jeans." I just like a narrow leg, whether it's straight or skinny, or boot cut or whatever. Anything baggier around the hips and thighs looks terrible on me because they don't fit. My new Paige cropped skinny are quite light and easy to roll and I've been wearing them in the heat without discomfort. But we're all different. Luckily there's so many styles and cuts from which to choose.

  17. Interesting Sue. I've been thinking skinny doesn't necessarily mean "skin tight" it can be a slim straight cut …I think my slim, straight cut faded indigo jeans are my favourite. They always go in my hand luggage as I'd hate to loose them!! 🙂

  18. Great post. I, too, am a huge fan of skinny jeans and I wouldn't even consider buying any style of jeans that didn't have some stretch to them. As to styles I avoid, I detest the shredded look. A little bit of distress is ok but you'll never see my skin showing through.


  19. Great post. Been there, done that. Levis were all I knew in high school and college, and we had to lay on the bed to zip jeans or jump around, lol. I'm all for high rise skinny jeans and there not leaving my closet.

  20. I am a boot cut girl, and last year "they' were predicting the death of the skinny jean and that boot cut would return. We got flares and crops instead (which I love crops, so that works for me). Really, for practicality's sake, skinnies are probably here to stay, just like boot cut and straight cuts. I think that the trend elements of them (the tattered hems, certain details, colors, etc) will come and go but in general it will probably stay. (I think this is why flares flicker in and out of style. They are enough like boot cuts to be a staple shape but exaggerated just enough to have a trend factor to them.) Like you I just wear what I like, and that is fine with me. 🙂 Such a funny post though, I can't stand some fashion magazines and news outlets because their trend news changes every. single. day.


  21. This was a delightful post! Full of humor, reality and helpful tips. Thank you for brightening my morning! Isn't it wonderfully freeing to let go of the idea that we have to sport all the trends? I want to look and feel great in what I'm wearing, while being true to myself. I see that you are doing just that – fabulously!

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