My first pair of wide-leg jeans was purchased from T.J. Maxx in 7th grade. This was the mid-90s in suburban Pittsburgh, which means most of my peers held onto their French-rolled stonewashed Levi’s for a few more years. At some point—maybe when I was 16 or 17—it became not okay to wear tapered jeans. It became gross, gauche, and most of all, uncool.
When I moved to London in 2004, Americans were still attached to the flares they had adopted a decade earlier. London, however, had moved on: I, too, was ready to try something narrower again. When I moved to New York at the end of 2005, I was wearing only “skinny jeans.” A year later, so were all of my friends.
That was nearly 10 years ago, and skinny jeans continue to rule. In fact, they’ve gotten skinnier. So skinny that there is a thing called jeggings. Many jeggings styles are so tight and awkward-looking that Conan O’Brien created somewhat of an internet meme by wearing a pair on his show.
Conan’s stunt happened almost exactly two years ago, decades in internet-humor time. Which has me wondering—insert Sex and the City-style imaginary thought bubble here—are we reaching the end of the skinny jeans cycle?
Last month I bought two pairs of Acne “Needle” jeans. They are described as high rise and skinny. While they are certainly high rise—which is great for me because I have a flat rear and therefore have trouble getting low-rise jeans to stay put—they are by no means skinny. In fact, they are decidedly straight leg, which is something I’m actually excited about. They look a little more balanced, a little more grown-up. When my friend Jill, who typically wears super-skinny, Trash and Vaudeville-style jeans, asked whether or not I liked the Needle, I explained that yes I did, but I didn’t think she would because they weren’t very narrow. “Actually, I’m much more into straight leg jeans lately,” was her surprising response.
For me, Jill is personal proof that skinny-skinny jeans might’ve peaked. What do you think? Are skinny jeans on their way out? Or are they just too easy to give up?