Do you have to be skinny to wear skinny jeans?
Posted on January 23, 2013
It is ten years since Lucy Pinter of Superfine styled Kate Moss in grey, faded skinny jeans. Within months, Vogue had hailed a new trend and it wasn’t long before the high street followed. Possibly the most lauded skinny jean of them all, Topshop’s Baxter, was launched in 2005 and is still available, although sales have been overtaken by the even skinnier Leigh jean, 1.2 million of which were sold last year.
You only need to look out the window to see that skinny jeans are ubiquitous. My kids, my husband and my mum wear them. And yet, their universal acceptance has done nothing to dent their popularity. In fact, every new season brings a new skinny jean. They have long since left the confines of denim and have brought patterns and textures back to jeans. We’ve had floral, brocade, baroque, sequinned, we’ve had velvet, coated, leather, camouflage.
Every year the rise of a wider-legged jean is mooted but it always fails to gain critical mass. Last year it was the turn of the bold, baggy, boyfriend jean. It didn’t quite capture the public imagination but it didn’t disappear completely either – it has returned this year but it is decidedly skinnier than its predecessor. Cargo pants, combats – they’re all still around somewhere, just tighter, slimmer versions of their former selves.
Skinny jeans came, they saw and they conquered. They are here to stay. What started as a fashion trend has earned its place among the fashion classics – the Chanel jacket, the pencil skirt, the trench coat. All change and mould to suit the season but they remain. So let it be with skinnies.
They are just too practical to ignore. You can tuck them into knee-high, calf-high, over-the-knee or ankle boots, you can wear them with ballet pumps, loafers or brogues, you can dress them up with heels or down with flats. They create the blank canvas silhouette that facilitates the straight, sleek lines of a blazer or the casual slouch of an oversized jumper.
Skinny jeans create equality in the wardrobe. Your boots, your jacket or your jewellery can still be the star of the show, never intentionally overpowered or hidden by the strong silhouette of a bootcut or a flared jean. Simply put, the skinny jean is a wardrobe staple that permits multiple outfits. The same indigo skinny jeans can be dressed up for night with heels and sparkles, dressed up for day with a blazer and a pair of boots and dressed down for any time with some biker boots and a camouflage shirt. Nobody will ever know!
But do you have to be skinny to wear skinny jeans?
No. Absolutely not.
Skinny jeans tend to get a bit of bad press thanks to their name. The “skinny” part refers to the lower leg, not the waist, thighs or bum. In fact, well-fitting skinny jeans shouldn’t be too tight and can stretch comfortably to suit all types of curves. The trick is to balance the proportions of the rest of your outfit with the straight lines of the skinny jeans to create a flattering silhouette.
Start with a pair of jeans that fits your body type properly. If you have any amount of a belly (that’s all of us really), then mid-rise is the most flattering – low-rise will give you muffin top and high-waisted can give you a belly bulge. The waistband on mid-rise jeans breaks up the line of the belly, making it less of a feature. Your jeans shouldn’t be too tight – you should be able to walk, sit and stretch comfortably in them.
If you are concerned about your thighs, then dark wash is your friend. We all know that dark colours are slimming and steering clear of patterns and textures will keep the focus away from any problem areas. A longline, body-skimming top (not too tight or fitted and not too baggy) will create a long body line and minimise the middle area. Also, a lighter colour on top will draw the eye away from your bottom half. Wedges or ankle boots with a block heel will help to lengthen your leg. Finish with a structured blazer or a longline cardigan and I guarantee you will look and feel amazeballs.
Skinny jeans are one of the few fashion items that don’t really stand for anything. They don’t suggest age, gender, sexuality or race. They are what you make them, so make them your own.
By Fiona McPhillips. First published in the Evening Herald on 23 January 2013.