Vicki Notaro: Health risk or not, I'll never give up my skinny jeans
Published 25/06/2015 | 10:34
I've heard of being a fashion victim, but I never thought your clothes could actually harm you.
Of all the clothing-related injuries one could experience, I would have thought that skyscraper stilletto heels would have been the riskiest, or perhaps a too-tight bra. But my beloved skinny jeans? Never.
However, with the news this week in Australia that a 35-year-old woman was found lying in the street, unable to stand for several hours and subsequently spent four days in hospital, all because of her too-tight slimline denims, medical professionals have been taking against the popular denim style, and are making the millions that wear them aware of the potential pitfalls.
Doctors down under have issued a health warning about wearing skinny jeans, stating that squatting in them for long periods of time can result in "compartment syndrome".
This means that the blood supply to the back of the leg is reduced, causing swelling. In the unnamed woman's case, her calves were so bulbous the jeans had to be cut off, and there's a new neurological complicaion relating to wearing too tight jeans.
Now, I know I've bashed my body into slightly small skinny jeans on several occasions, but never to the point of medical danger - as far as I know. Knowing that nerve damage is possible is quite scary, but surely I've never put myself in that position?
Yes, I've had to lie on the bed with my bum in the air to work them on over my hips, but that happens to everyone, right?
I wonder just how tight this mystery lady's jeans must have been to cause such an issue, and how she didn't notice the ill effect it was having on her body before succumbing to the swell? Or am I simply naive and blinded by love for my skinnies?
"I don't think we should demonise skinny jeans," says GP Dr Nina Byrnes. "I love them myself! The thing is, wear the correct size for you.
"Your legs should be able breathe - it's not a compression bandage. Most decent jeans have stretch in them. If any clothes are so tight that they compress the body profoundly then in theory this compartment syndrome could occur, but it is extremely unlikely if you wear clothes that fit correctly."
While I'm glad to have a professional medical opinion on the matter, it doesn't really matter because I was never going to give them up.
Skinny jeans have been a wardrobe staple of mine since the mid-noughties, when I became too um, mature (and love-handle ridden) for the low rise Diesel hipster denims of my teens. Skinnies have seen me through everything from job interviews to big nights out and hot dates.
Depending on the brand, they can be the most comfortable of trousers, and in the right pair you can actually look skinnier.
But shopping for them can be a minefield - perhaps that's the denim-related activity that should come with a health warning. I've found myself locked in a changing room stuck with a pair of skinnies around my thighs, and tears of frustration on my cheeks. and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.
However, finding that perfect pair is always an amazing moment, because I know I'm buying something that I'll put on for months or even years, come, rain or shine, and always look decent.
This week though, it's not just health professionals who are saying the skinny trend is on the way out. Only days ago in Sacaramento, California, two members of a band were knifed by a man who screamed homophobic slurs at them solely because of their trouser of choice.
"This man literally did this because we wear skinny jeans... what a jerk," one of the victims posted online.
The perpetrator was let go on bail after the incident but police have since reclassified his acts as a hate crime, and have issued a new arrest warrant.
So I think it's fair to say skinny jeans are currently getting a bad rap, when in reality, they're the most versatile thing I own.
Yes, they have been deemed the sartorial choice of hipsters, up there with fuzzy beards, ironic t-shirts and unneccessary glasses.
And sure, I've seen many a pair of skinny, male legs stuffed into a pair that perhaps shouldn't have been. A friend of mine once fit in to his girlfriend's size 10 Topshop skinnies, which was depressing on every level. But it's no reason to a) attack somebody and b) ditch our beloved jeans.
When it comes to ladieswear, they're much more widely accepted and from what I can see, they're pretty much worn across the board.
It doesn't matter what sartorial segment you align yourself with, skinnies will suit you. You could go for a classic style in skinny jeans that cut off above the ankle, a la Audrey Hepburn, or high-waisted to hug your curves like Kim Kardashian. For boyish figures like that of Gigi Hadid, they cling in all the right places and show off a perfect pair of pins, while the likes of Rihanna wear them in a more urban style.
So sexy or classic, tomboy or sporty, there's a pair of skinnies to suit you. Even Kate Middleton wears them, mere weeks after giving birth. Yummy mummies everywhere embrace the cut, because what's not to love?
This season, the jeans trend has moved more towards bell-bottoms and flares, but I never know what shoes to wear with those.
With skinnies it's simple - pretty much anything goes, from heels to high tops to ankle boots or sandals. And don't get me started on the acid wash "mom" jeans of last year, baggy and worn at the natural waist. They should have stayed back in the 80s.
You see, skinny jeans don't discriminate when it comes to age. My mother adores them, and so do the discerning, style-conscious teenagers in my life.
I don't know if I could convince my 82-year-old grandmother to give them a go, but saying that, she'll try anything Marks and Spencer sell.
But the question remains - will this bad press scare the masses off, and in turn jeans manufacturers? Stylist Corina Gaffey doesn't think so.
"There have been plenty of fashion health hazards over the decades, from flimsy flip-flops to waist-cinching corsets, but it doesn't put people off wearing them.
"Skinny jeans are meant to give a lean, leg-lengthening silhouette and be flattering on, that's part of their appeal," she explains.
"They're definitely not for squatting in. Opting for a pair that fits right, is made of quality denim and has plenty of stretch should help to avoid any problems."
I'm with Corina here - skinnies aren't for heavy-lifting and hard work. I mean, you wouldn't run a marathon in Louboutins or spend a day at the beach in leather pants. The jeans aren't at fault.
And neither should we squeeze ourselves into a certain size just because we think it will streamline our silhouette. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't wear denim Spanx, so I certainly wouldn't use the material like a girdle for my legs either.
"Don't rely on clothes to make you thinner," is Dr Nina's advice. "Diet and exercise are the safest way to do that."
As for the potential for hate crimes when it comes to legwear? I think as long as we avoid the combat style popularised by All Saints in the 1990s, we'll all be absolutely fine.