Fashion

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Paul Galvin: Skinny dip

Many blokes don’t have the guts to wear skinny jeans — just go for it, says Paul Galvin

Paul Galvin

Published 28/05/2011|05:00

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Paul Galvin
Crinkle-twisted jeans, €32.99, New Look
Distressed light-wash jeans, €79, Next

It's the question no one wants to ask, but the time has come to ask it. It needs asking. Are we discriminating against skinny jeans? Is it not morally bankrupt of us to blatantly label jeans skinny?

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Or super skinny? Or spray-on skinny? What next, anorexic jeans? Big-boned jeans? Fat jeans? Jeans checking into rehab after cracking under the strain of trying to stay skinny?

The pressure that skinny jeans must feel to stay skinny is enormous. Particularly in places such as LA, where they're constantly in the public eye, hounded by paparazzi. And particularly when men like me, who are a touch muscular, stuff ourselves into them. Or maybe I'm alone in that particular category. Now that's pressure.

To be fair, I should really only wear skinnies in winter, when I'm proper skinny. I'm more muscular in summer and it doesn't really suit the look -- as I proved so gloriously on national television.

The fashion industry seems to produce skinnier jeans by the season. First, we had straight-leg jeans. Bland. Boring. Nondescript. Everyone wore them, but no one really cared about them, did they?

Then we had slim-fit. Hmm, men wondered. Had a sneaky look in the shops. Maybe even snuck a pair into the changing room to try on. Ya, we were pretty comfortable. This was acceptable. Nothing wrong with being slim. Not giving too much away. Safe.

Then came the skinnies revival in the early part of the Noughties. WOOOAH. What's all this then? Men in tights? It's not right. Well, the question I would ask is what about bloody Zorro? He wore skinnies and a face mask and a cape and hat. In the 1950s.

I have friends who have snuck skinny jeans into changing rooms, tried them on, loved them, felt great, strutted about for a few minutes then put them back on the rack. The notion of wearing them in public was too much to bear. Cowards, I say.

I mean, they're only jeans and you're only wearing them. It's not like skinny-jean-wearing men are social delinquents or social lepers, who should be looked upon any differently to girls wearing, say, brogues. Or blazers. Or dyke patches. It's perfectly normal. And it's perfectly normal to wear skinny jeans. If you're skinny, of course. It's the nature of such words.

Some carry connotations. Straight = irrelevant. Slim = whatever. Skinny = Provocative. I've worn skinny jeans for a good few years now. For some reason, they seem to raise eyebrows and twist biscuits here in Ireland, the land of the sensible pant. Slack country.

And not just because they're tight, either. A woman approached me one night and asked me how I got into them. I couldn't quite work out if she was serious or not. The look on her face was locked somewhere between manic and genuine curiosity.

How did I get into them? I mean, how do you answer that? I parachuted into them off the back of a low-flying duck, ma'am. I got into them the same way you got into your knickers this morning, ma'am.

It's not like I'm the first guy ever to wear them in Ireland and the UK. Mark Renton, anyone? 'Trainspotting'? Skinny jeans, trainers and T-shirts were his uniform. I loved that look and, to be fair, I'd have worn them earlier if I could have found a pair.

Alas, we were only still getting our bits into the whole baggy jeans thing back then. Mark Renton. Style icon. I loved Rents, despite the chronic drug habit. See how he looked after Spud in the end. The style in that movie was class and it kicked off the heroin-chic look that infiltrated the catwalks in the mid-1990s.

Can't wait for the sequel. I love to observe the relationship between fashion and film. Elvis rolled and rocked drainpipes and shocked the stars and stripes with his overt performance and dress when he broke the mould in the 1950s and 1960s. Zorro, we mentioned. Mick Jagger and the Stones were fond of the skinnies in the 1970s; Sid Vicious, The Clash, Metallica wore them in the 1980s. Rents in the 1990s. The indie music scene embraced them in the Noughties. Johnny Borrell; Pete Doherty and his cigarette pants; Alex Kapranos.

The progression of skinnies has been interesting from the use of fabric to design. I like to check the labels on my clothes to find out what fabrics are used. Skinnies first were made using simply denim or stretch denim. As fashion boundaries are for pushing, we then had denim and spandex to give us 'jeggings', which I admit are right on the edge of acceptability for men.

Then, came design modifications with skinny carrot-cut jeans to give more of a loose feel around the upper thighs and skinnier towards the feet. Then, we had skinny twisters. Then, a change of fabric gave us skinny chords and skinny slacks. Now, we have skinny tracksuit and three-quarter-length skinnies. That's a lot of skinnies.

I get my skinnies in RI or Topman, but I've got some in random vintage shops and TK Maxx as well. And I've had them made. Gap has a great selection for men and in lots of colours. People's Market does good ones too.

If you want to try skinny jeans, try black -- they're less attention-grabbing. Speaking of attention grabbers, as Ross O'Carroll-Kelly once said, I'm getting a little 'nostalgish'. I sense my skinny-jean-wearing days are coming to an end. I'm getting old. My jeans are coming under increasing strain. I need to find some not-so-skinny jeans.

So, guys, if you feel like giving them a spin, I say go for it. You don't need to be brave to wear skinny jeans. You just need skinny genes.

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