Tuesday 21 May 2019

The demise of skinny jeans: has this beloved denim trend finally seen its day?

Heidi Klum in Jordache skinny jeans
Heidi Klum in Jordache skinny jeans
Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, depart the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, July 7, 2011
Kate Moss attends the Rimmel London 180 Years Of Cool photocall at The Savoy Hotel on October 10, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Rimmel London)
Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal tour of India in 2016
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

For an item of clothing with the word ‘skinny’ in its name, you’d think skinny jeans would be a niche design.

While we have have long since rid ourselves of noughties trends like velour tracksuits and chunky blonde highlights, skinny jeans have, mysteriously, remained a wardrobe staple with nearly every woman of note and ‘normality’ having at least one pair tucked away at home.

Ever since 2005, when Kate Moss championed this new style of denim - and Topshop launched the Baxter shape - did its popularity truly take hold on the high street market. In the first nine months, the Baxter sold 18,000 pairs per week, according to the Guardian.

Women have accepted the skinny as the only style available in order to look contemporary as anything other-than was deemed too matronly.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal tour of India in 2016
Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal tour of India in 2016

Bootcut jeans? You’re too old! Mom jeans? You’re too old! Straight leg? You guessed it, too old again! Boyfriend jeans? Ah-hah, you’re too young!

Skinnies had universal appeal: 65-year-old French first lady Brigitte Macron wears them, as does 26-year-old Miley Cyrus. Despite the pleas of fashion editors the world over in recent years, it seems that only now, as we approach the end of 2018 that skinnies might finally be on the way out.

Angie Smith, the woman behind Holly Willoughby’s flawless style, said she would never put her - or any of her celebrity clients like Laura Whitmore, Angela Scanlon and Amanda Holden - in a pair, describing them as “awful”.

“Who actually looked good in skinny jeans? 'They're awful. They are leggings essentially, and we all agreed leggings weren't okay ages ago,” she told The Times. It was succinct, yet a thoroughly convincing argument.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought you couldn’t wait to squeeze into a pair of jeans that highlights every bit of your body, accentuates your thighs, while simultaneously shortening your legs? I didn’t think so.

I asked three Irish stylists and there was a universally resounding anti-skinny jean sentiment. Stylist and host of the Gilded Thread podcast Irene O’Brien said its popularity mystifies her on a regular basis, but they are really built for women with long legs.

Kate Moss attends the Rimmel London 180 Years Of Cool photocall at The Savoy Hotel on October 10, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Rimmel London)
Kate Moss attends the Rimmel London 180 Years Of Cool photocall at The Savoy Hotel on October 10, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Rimmel London)

Read more: Decoding Kate Middleton's new style strategy - how the duchess is discreetly switching things up

“I think there was such an incubation period with skinny jeans, when they first came out, we thought there was absolutely no chance, I’ll never wear them, they don’t flatter anyone - but now, there isn’t one person, even the staunchest of protestors, who don’t own a pair,” she tells Independent.ie Style.

“They are flattering on some people, but I think it’s less about curves vs skinny - long legged people have a real advantage there. If your legs are longer, it naturally gives you a nicer curve. I have a pair that look incredible and everyone compliments me when I wear them, but I genuinely have to commit to wearing them, psych myself up, take a deep breath and apologise to my legs for cutting off their circulation.”

Irene says the moment she knew her marriage with skinnies had ended and that was the introduction of the dreaded jegging, which are essentially leggings in a denim pattern repackaged as a step up above the workout wear.

Similarly, Clementine MacNiece, a celebrity stylist who works on RTE’s Dancing With The Stars, is focused on finding new styles for herself and clients. “I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that women hate shopping for jeans. In order to find a good label or a good high street store that works for you, it takes some searching.

“I recently shared a post on Instagram that I was on the search for a straight leg jeans and the reaction I got showed that a lot of people feel the same.”

Well-heeled: Brigitte Macron and Rihanna at the Élysée Palace in Paris
Well-heeled: Brigitte Macron and Rihanna at the Élysée Palace in Paris

Irene’s main style inspiration roots back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, when tight flares and a ribbed polo neck were all you needed to look effortlessly chic.

“More than any other type of jean, skinny jeans have a tendency to be widely unflattering,” she explains. “There’s just so much thigh on show and you’re not getting away from it. There’s been so much progress and development in thes science of denim, but I find the stretch to be the biggest problem with skinny jeans.”

Laura Mullett, a stylist who regularly appears on Virgin Media One, encourages women to experiment more with their wardrobes and not stick to a certain style simply out of habit.

“I’ve always been a lover of a high rise waist that emphasises your empire line. The elastene blend in a lot of high street denim is what gives the jeans grab in all the right places,” she says.

Part of the issue is the fact the more popular a trend becomes, the more readily available it is and a general drop in quality is to be expected. During UGG boots' heyday in 2006, more and more knock-offs were bought and sullied the brand's overall reputation as a valuable purveyor of boots. And now, the same has happened with skinny jeans, which are available just about everywhere at varying levels of excellence.

Well-made denim remains well-made denim, no matter how it is cut at the ankle, but after years of forcing ourselves into trousers that are growing increasingly unflattering, I will be heeding the advice of the fash pack and set my sights further afield. And rather than being televised, this revolution will be documented via Instagram Stories.

Online Editors

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