A few weeks ago, I was invited to chat with Tori Mellott on her Instagram Live series for Schumacher. It was so much fun. I linked to it, but if you decide to watch, get ready – it is exhausting just watching my hands gesture for the full 60 minutes. Painful for me to watch – clearly I was excited. Does ANYONE like watching themselves onscreen? But Tori is charming and funny and smart - and really has such a gift as an interviewer and a listener – so the conversation was lively. At the end, we took a few questions that had popped up in the comments, and one was about skinny jeans. What did I think about them?
I guess I am the last to know about the directive from TikTok – that skinny jeans are passe along with side parts in your hair. (Or at least if not passe, the insult that really stings: they make you look OLD.) Clueless to this current edict, I answered that for me, cool jeans are any style that flatter you and make you feel your best. For me, that is a cropped flare cut. Way to bring the conversation back to me; yikes! All that to say… I am laughing at the idea that ANY jean could be passe. Jeans have been such a wardrobe staple for so long that many of us have dozens. Maybe we rotate the top performers to the easiest-to-reach pile… and then we grow tired of those and dig a little deeper for the forgotten pair that somehow looks new again. Tale as old as time. My youngest was asking for new jeans before she returned to college after winter break, and I sent her straight up to the attic to shop the outcasts of the four sisters before her. It is a real time capsule of teen denim through the decades up there. In the end, I relented, and she went back to school with two new pairs. I couldn't help it. Buying a new pair of jeans is like buying a new lipstick. A low-stakes, reliable pick-me-up. It always feels like you can add one more, and the newness ALWAYS delivers.
I spent so many years in men's Levi's and some beloved old Wranglers, and I was pregnant in 2000 when premium denim really got going. But once I finally got my first pair of 7 for All Mankinds, I was hooked. It turns out that Lycra and motherhood were a brilliant combo. Easier to bound up to the top of the slide at the playground and rescue a little one. What took so long? The mobility alone! (They also looked pretty great.) When I really went all-in and got a second pair, I screwed up the hemming, and instead of trimming three inches off of each leg, I got mixed up and took SIX inches off the first. The girls still remember my scream. I had never in my life spent $200 on a pair of jeans – it was worth screaming about. I stitched those 3 inches back on and wore them with a seam across the left leg for years, reminded of my haste-makes-waste personality every time.
And even though I am not feeling as inspired by super-skinny jeans right this second, they look great on a lot of women and "flattering" doesn't always align with trend cycles. When I first opened my shop I lived in a uniform of J Brand skinny jeans and my own Boyfriend shirts. That silhouette has a certain rock and roll appeal and always has a place in my closet. And we sell loads of them! Wear what you want. If you're worried about whether teenage girls think you look cool… I have bad news for you. They never will. And truly, back to my conversation with Tori, anything that you love is always in style.
But right now, I am feeling wide-legs in a big way. I love the way they sway around my ankles, almost like a maxi dress. It feels feminine and so, so 70s. I can't think of that time without thinking of the women's movement… women going braless in a tight knit top, with "men's" trousers on the bottom half. It seems like ages ago, but I can remember when I was first allowed to wear pants to school in 1970. Not that I cared that much – my mom made me super-cool maxi dresses and one especially great faux green leather jumper, and I mostly wore those. But it was a real landmark moment. And then it was 1993 before women were allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor!! Whoa. We've come a long way baby.
Styling-wise, they are a dream. I can throw on my aviator glasses and wear my hair down and think Gloria Steinem (my girls and I were crazy about Mrs. America.) If "activist" isn't your thing, you can also channel Jane Birkin and her sexy/feminine tomboy appeal. She REALLY made motherhood look groovy. Imagine what she could have done with 2% Lycra added to her wide-leg jeans. The denim on ours is super beefy and stretchy, but you don't actually feel the squeeze of the stretch, since they stop hugging you at the hip. The volume is kind of liberating. I will style the white ones with a striped boatneck tee and go full-on sailor… the blue denim with a Liberty print blouse and go slightly more English hippie. The cream ones are amazing and a touch more sophisticated. "Old" in a good way. Plus there's a fantastic deep indigo denim coming out later in the month. And so wide, skinny, flare, cropped… wear what makes you feel great. Don't let Gen Z tell you what to do. But a new pair of jeans in a new shape may be just what you need. I promise.