Skinny jeans: most people either love them or hate them and either look great in them, or look awful. This is an article of clothing that has caused controversy, arguments, and outrages everywhere. What is it about these pants that makes people go crazy? How did they originate, who wears them, and who should wear them?
Although skinny jeans have become very popular recently, they actually came about in the 1950’s. At that time they were most popular among the sex symbols and celebrities of the day. Jeans of any type were not common for most people at that time, especially not for women. These tight-fitting, tailored jeans, therefore, were not seen on common citizens and were considered either foreign, upper-class, or only for the famous. The 1960’s brought in Rock and Roll and with it the growing popularity of jeans for all people. This decade led into the 70’s, when people started to fasten safety pins onto their jeans to make their skinny jeans even more tight-fitting. Skinny jeans then erupted into popularity in the 1980’s, but in the next decade people began to put more and more flare into jeans. After that, skinny jeans were found primarily only in the music industry. The new millennium called for a new style, so after years of boot cuts and flares, designers and stores promoted the skinny jean more than ever (Hayashida). They are now at their highest level of popularity and can be seen on people ranging from runway models to grungy emo kids.
A wide variety of people can be found wearing skinny jeans. They range in type as drastically as the jeans themselves do. Skinny jeans can be found in bright colors, patterns, ripped up, dark wash, light wash, and many other fashions. They are seen on celebrities such as Nicole Richie, Carmen Frugal, Penelope Cruz, and Elle McPherson and are strutted on the runway by models like Kim Kardashian. They are worn by both women and men. Despite the “real men don’t wear skinny jeans!” protests, it’s not just gay men who are wearing skinny jeans. Many guys who are concerned with the latest styles and fashions, who are into indie or emo music and bands, or who simply like the jeans or think they look good in them, wear skinnies often. Many men, however, view skinny jeans as being for women, and there are always those who do not like them at all for either gender.
What does wearing skinny jeans really say about a person? Perhaps they simply like the look, or the fit. Skinny jeans are easy to wear with boots because they tuck into the boot neatly and they are good for any shoe that one wants to show off because they do not cover up the shoe. For short people, they are nice because they do not drag on the ground and get torn up or cause them to trip. Many people, namely those who do not wear skinny jeans, tend to associate them with certain stereotypes. For example, people talk about “those emo kids with their black hair, piercings, and skinny jeans,” “those girls that are as skinny as a rail and wear those skin-tight jeans,” or “those boys wearing girl jeans.” While it may be true that certain types of people are more likely to wear skinny jeans, and while wearing skinny jeans can say certain things about a person, they are also just another style. Partly because of this tendency to include skinny jeans in stereotypes, some people only wear them because they feel pressured to. They feel as if they must wear special clothes to fit in with a certain group, that in order to be “cool” they need to wear skinny jeans and dark makeup, or that skinny jeans will make them look thinner.
I have discussed the history of skinny jeans and the people who wear them, but primarily only in America. This leads to the question of are skinny jeans cross-cultural, or is it an American thing? Skinny jeans are found in many other places and are especially popular among people of both genders in European countries (Yahoo Answers).
Advertisements for skinny jeans also express certain things and ideas about them. For one thing, photo advertisements almost always show skinny, often underweight, models wearing skinny jeans. They display words and phrases suggesting that skinny jeans will make you appear thin and attractive.
Regardless of the preconceived ideas, stereotypes, and judgments that are placed on skinny jeans, I think that the main reason for their popularity is their originality and the opportunity for people to express themselves and have their own style, or to identify with certain styles and groups. They have been around for a long time and can be very attractive and stylish. Anyone who likes skinny jeans, enjoys wearing them, and feels good in them should strut their style.
Hayashida, Lori. “The Skinny Jean: A Brief History.” Ezine Articles. Ezine, 8 Nov. 2006. Web. 23 Feb. 2011. http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Skinny-Jean:-A-Brief-History&id=351854>.
Yahoo Answers. “Are Super Skinny Jeans in Fashion in Europe? – Yahoo! UK & Ireland Answers.” Yahoo! Answers UK – Ask Questions & Get Answers On Any Topic. 2008. Web. 02 Mar. 2011. http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080207103251AA7rCSD>.