The Youths Were Right: Skinny Jeans Edition

By Anne T. Donahue

Sitting here on the couch, moments after guzzling nearly a litre of iced tea for the sheer pleasure of consuming a delicious beverage, I can’t help but realize: I am so grateful not to be wearing skinny jeans.

Of course, I’m usually grateful for this gift; this revelation. From 2006 to 2020, respectively, I – and people I know, love, and respect – poured our bodies into denim designed to hug every aspect of our beings. Our jeans evoked the tightness of Ross Gellar’s shrunken leather pants while walking the line between stretchy and making it absolutely impossible to sit down. And yet, my jeans were my lifeblood: the day I discovered Cheap Mondays was the day I felt like I’d arrived.

“I don’t wear those anymore,” I told my American Eagle manager who was explaining the differences between flares and oversize flares.

“Okay, that’s fine,” she said. “But you still need to fold them.”

I will never need to fold them again. First, because I left the company in 2009 when I was 24 (RIP Cambridge Centre location), and second, because I listened to my generational successors and took up an aesthetic cause I once turned my back on: flared jeans. Baggy jeans. Jeans so oversize I could smuggle my cat into class with me, which I seriously debate doing every time I go to school.

And reader, I feel free. I can move, I can bloat, I can forget that I’m wearing pants at all. I can wear them with sneakers, with Crocs, with my winter boots (Doc Martens forever), provided I roll them up a little bit as not to evoke the safety boots vibe I perfected as a Rona Home & Garden Cashier. I wear them with big shirts, with fitted shirts, with many shirts at the same time. I wear them with long coats, with short coats, and with absolutely no coats at all. I will never look back. I will never return.

Of course, I was wrong not to look to the youths for guidance. On TikTok (an app I peruse but do not use because I have no idea how I’d use it and also, I’m too tired), I saw someone describe Gen Z as a generation that dressed for themselves, and not for the male gaze, and I loved it. Is it true? I’m not sure. But I do know that I stuffed myself into many clothes, hoping a guy I liked would notice me. I’m not about to apply that to everybody outside of my own experience, but I will say this: one should never sacrifice their comfort for the approval of anybody, lest some made-up standards or rules you’ve been told to abide by.

Evidently, we all had it right in 1998. We were correct to wear Modrobes with pride, or tear-away Adidas pants at every opportunity. I was ashamed in grade seven to wear pants that weren’t generous in fabric, terrified to be seen with jeans that tapered at the ankles. Form-fitting? Go to hell. I had to speed-walk through the mall with ease, trolling for lip balms and best friend necklaces, free from the belief that anything outside of my own personal aesthetic heaven deserved to touch my tween frame. I wanted comfort and style, large t-shirts and pants that would paint me as a cool, hip teen who didn’t long to be “sensible.” If something I wore didn’t make me feel great, I didn’t wear it – and I had it all figured out.

I mean, I didn’t at all (I still collected Beanie Babies), but in terms of my own style rules, I certainly did. It only took decades (actual decades) to forsake the belief I had to adapt myself to fit certain trends, and that fashion meant feeling uncomfortable. Currently, I’m in an oversize raccoon sweatshirt and pants so generous that I am convinced that should need to, I could turn them into a small apartment able to house my family.

Skinny jeans? I don’t know her. But if I start waving the flag for Beanie Babies again, please save me from myself.

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

Tags: Anne T. Donahue, skinny jeans, top story, topstory

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