For several years I have watched as skinny jeans invade clothing stores. They are stubborn and hold their ground in the most visible sections of most clothing stores I go to. And time and time again I ask myself, who is really that skinny? I’m not, that’s for sure. My thighs are muscular beauties. They are not at all suitable for this skinny jeans trend. No, regular fit is my style. Regular fit jeans used to be easy to find in stores about one and a half decade ago. Nowadays when I need to buy a pair of regular fit jeans I feel like a hunter-gatherer who is hunting and scavenging for that one meal to make it through the day. It’s really a desperate affair. So what’s the issue with skinny jeans, then? Well the same skinny jeans hug your legs really tight and if they are not of the stretchy variant, you’re trapping your legs in a denim equivalent of a straight jacket, but for your legs.
But from where did the skinny jeans swagger in?
Let’s jump into a time machine of style and glimpse at Europe a few hundred years ago. France to be more exact. In the 16th century, prosperous Frenchmen decided that they had to get more royal attention. And what better reason is there to start wearing tight breeches at the court of Louis XIII. The breeches became a symbol of nobility. It went so far that the lower classes were nicknamed sans-coulettes (“without breeches”).
The breeches that come to mind are the riding breeches, tight around the legs and with buckles or laces around the calves. This type of breeches is usually what you will see in historical movies taking place in the renaissance, and hence is often the first association when breeches are discussed. Not your average dinner table topic, I admit.
This is also exactly what pops into my mind as I get stuck with the jeans pulled up to my knees where they reluctantly stay moulded on my kneecaps.
But back in the day breeches weren’t good on their own. They were only complete with a frock coat and of course the tricome hat. Think of those outfits that captains and soldiers wear in old pirate and musketeer movies, to get a clear idea. The invasion of the breeches continued into England and then the rest of Europe. In those times it was the privileged folks that wore them. Fat chance that you would hire a carpenter that showed up with tight fitting breeches and a white wig and lapels across the shirt. But I digress. Instead let’s refocus our attention the modern time and check out the beginning of rock and roll.
I don’t have all time here in front of the dressing room mirror anyway. Sooner or later someone in the staff will wonder if I haven’t tried on this stupidly tight pair of jeans already.
So, let’s fast forward to the 1960s. The skinny pants fashion made a big appearance in the 1960s when The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Rolling Stones strutted around on stages and spread the fashion. This was also much thanks to the music videos and photo marketing of course, something that people lacked in the renaissance times, imagine the horror. The western world soon ran around in tightfitting pants and everyone were scratching their balls became commonplace and not at all seen as an affront any more. Millions of young people ran around concerts, smoked weed and stood in street corners sporting the fashion.
With the popularity of their music and personalities, they effectively ran a marketing campaign for skinny jeans. The trend continued into the 1970s with glam rock and rockability bands. As you can see a trend emerges. Music bands and in particular popular music bands carried the slim fit jeans from decade to decade. This goes on into 1980s and 1990s with heavy metal bands (Metallica) and glam metal bands (Poison) continued to wear the jeans proudly.
And here I am, with jeans just barely pulled up to my waist that are completely impossible to button up. This is a lost battle, now to tear this pair of sadness off myself. That’s another good five minutes that I will never see again.
We’re getting closer to our present-day obsession with skinny jeans. In the 1990s the slim fit fashion took a punch when baggy carpenter jeans hopped onto the stage. They kept the world in a tight grip until the beginning of the 21stcentury when the slim fit jeans snuck onto the stage again, relegating baggy jeans to the closets throughout the world. Well, maybe not for the diehard hip hop folks that still listen to Jump by Kriss Kross. If you do, don’t feel bad. I still listen to 1970s rap music, although I would never admit it in person. Let’s call this a typo.
Who wears it now?
Because I sure ain’t. Around 2010, skinny jeans were adopted by the men’s fashion industry. And you know how it goes, that means many guys follow suit (pun intended). The last few years, as I travel around Europe, I meet the silent laugh of slim fit jeans wherever I enter a clothing shop.
So what about us regular fit guys?
I recall walking into a clothing store in Dublin a while ago. I badly needed a new pair of jeans as I had ripped my current pair.
This tall and rather lanky guy tried to find a pair that would suit me. What a chore. Slim fit jeans everywhere to be seen. Finally I scored a pair, tried them on and well, they were way more than regular fit. Regular fit is a bit exaggerated, though. It was more like two empty sacks sewn together, with a zipper attached to the front. Needless to say, I bought the pair. I had way more fun stuff to do then getting disappointed time and time again in different clothing stores.
“It’s ridiculous that it’s so hard to find regular fit jeans these days”, I remarked as I whipped out my credit card to pay.
“Yeah. It really is. And I don’t know why it’s like this. You’re not the first one to mention it.” I was stunned. So here’s a guy that hearing plenty of customers mention this problem. And it remains. I thought that maybe it was just me being me, unwilling to search for regular fit jeans long enough. But no, this random store clerk more than agreed with my frustration.
With that little satisfaction, I took my huge shopping bag and carried my huge pair of jeans back to my hotel. I put them on and looked at my temporary baggy look in the mirror, and with a sigh I shuffled out of the room. In my mind, I saw these 16th century people strutting around in their breeches, all jolly. I couldn’t really look forward to my sack with zippers.