Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wide or Skinny, Jeans and Boots . . .

Lisa (of Amid Privilege)'s latest post on Street vs. Fashion Editors reminded me that I'd copied out a line from Lisa Armstrong's Summary of 10 Key Looks for Fall in the September Harper's Bazaar. Harper's regularly features lists of What's Out and What's In -- and so often, What's Out is something we seem recently to have stocked up on as a What's In.

And vice versa.

I've long loved the luxurious look of a wide-legged pant, with front pleats and pockets that allow that casual long-legged slouch, à la Katharine Hepburn. I particularly remember a cream pair in fine-weight wool, lined, that I wore in the early 90s, despite the impossibility of my short legs ever achieving a long-legged slouch.

Gradually, I was urged away from those pleats, those roomy pounds-adding legs, those hip-enlarging pockets. I got pushed into a lower waist, coached toward a slimmer fit, and gradually, ever so gradually (with leggings under dresses as an intermediary step) adopted the skinny jean. Which, I must say, works brilliantly for my frame, allowing an elongated, sometimes roomier, top to balance and disguise my short, ill-defined waist.

Nonetheless, I haven't been able to resist the wide legs, with their arrival heralded over the past four or five years -- I have a pair of Michael Kors wide-legged jeans, bought four years ago. Seemed like a great idea, except that on me the wide leg demands a heel. Plus, um,  riding a bike in wide-legged paints without a very serious chain guard? Not such a wise plan. Year before last, I couldn't resist a grey plaid fine wool pair by a funky Dutch company, Elemente Clemente. They are SO wide, with fabulous pleats and pockets. And impractical as hell for my lifestyle, although comfy and spirit-enhancing as anything. . .

So when Lisa Armstrong advises me to "Try a version [of wider pants] with front pleats, pockets, and a subtly slouchy waistband and see how flattering it looks."

followed by "You'll soon forget that you ever pledged undying allegiance to those drainpipes" . . .

Will you pardon my skepticism?

In fact, I think I'll follow my sister's advice instead. She's reminded me that we both own a goodly stock of boots. Boots that are perfect with our skinny jeans. Boots that mainly make sense if one owns skinny jeans. Without skinny jeans, in other words, the whole "These boots are an Investment Purchase" argument begins to look a little weak.

My sister has the perfect solution. She's out there buying up her favourite skinny jeans in her most-worn colours. And she's urging me to do the same. Thanks to her, I wore dark denim skinnies yesterday and I'm going to go wiggle my way into lusciously comfy J Brand black denim (with an almost fleece-like feel on the inside -- seriously!) today. I might haul out my skinny Paisley cords tomorrow and I have another pair of cords skinnies, rich gold-coloured cord, for the day after that. All worn with boots. In honour of my sister. Here's to you, Rachel!

Now perhaps my sister and I qualify more as Stubborn than as Street. But that's how we're playing it for now. What about you? Hedging your bets or making a commitment to a new What's In while turfing a closet-full of What's Outs?


21 comments:

  1. I am like you in that I love the look of wide-leg, flowing pants ala K. Hepburn but at 5'4" and a little on the heavy side I have to pass (even with a heel). The boot leg cut is the closest I'll get. As for skinny jeans, I feel like a stuffed sausage so I substitute with "straight" leg (more A. Hepburn). Also, by sticking to the boot cut and straight leg pants I avoid the trends more. I can't wait until the skinny jean is gone.

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    1. So you've got a consistent style, and a classic leg preference -- I could go back to the boot cut if I had to, but I love the practicality (and, for me, good looks) of the boot over a skinny leg. So I hope they don't go away anytime soon, but meanwhile, I'm stocking up.

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  2. I love skinny jeans too and worn with boots they are so easy to wear.
    I donated my wide leg nod to Katherine Hepburn pants as they were far too bulky for my height. I am only 5'1 so the longer leaner look is much more friendly.
    Personally I hope they stay around for a long time.

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  3. My cut is either straight or boot. I feel very top heavy in skinnies, although balancing them with boots works. I'm so glad that fashion is so diverse just now - we can wear what we like and what suits us and our lifestyles without feeling frumpish and démodée.

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    1. Yes!! I'm so happy that the choices are there so that we can wear what suits us and not have to be slave to the leg of the moment.

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  4. I am SO with you on this one! Stock up while you can still get the silhouette you like best. That's what I do when a flattering and/or favorite color happens to be "in", since I know it will be a few years before it comes into favor again. One has to know what flatters and feels great and then stick to your guns!

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    1. It's true -- it works with colour as well. And shoe heels. I try to mix in enough of the new to be au courant enough, but I know what works and what doesn't by now.

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  5. I too am resisting the hype about wide-leg pants. I think a narrow leg is so much more flattering on so many more people than a wide leg. I resisted buying skinny jeans for the first year assuming they were a passing trend. But they have hung in there for quite a few years and I love mine! Even though I am quite tall (5 ft 7) and am mostly legs (my husband always laughs that I have "high hips!") my upper body is so short that wide leg pants make me look wide all the way up. I think they look good on women who have a long, slim waist to show off. That's not me, so I'm sticking to my skinny leg pants as long as I can!

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    1. High hips! That's a great description.
      I'm so admiring and envious of those long, slim waists, but nope, not me either (and I'm also 4 inches shorter than you). I'm surprised how long the skinny jeans have been around and hope to get a few more years in them.

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  6. As a 29" inseam, skinnies or leggings are best on me but I bought some slouchy palazzos with a similarly loose top and I really like them. Flattering, I'm not sure but stylish yes. I wouldn't invest a fortune in wide-leg but a change is fun.

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    1. I agree that variety is good. And palazzos pants are always fun -- they suggest partying and lounging so very well, don't they?!

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  7. I'm another who loves the IDEA of wide-legged pants, but finds the reality harder. I used to have a great pair of fairly wide-legged black dress pants, which looked fabulous ... but only if I wore high heels. And these days heels are just not part of my life, except for comfy ones like my No 6 boots that add height but feel like a flat shoe. For now I'll be sticking to the more flattering low-waisted skinny.

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    1. Oh, the IDEA of them is just so romantic, somehow. And they can look absolutely fabulous if, as you say, we wear heels. And once upon a time, I did. Still will for a day here or there, a few hours of an evening, but just not consistently enough.
      Those No 6 boots sound like perfection. As do our flattering low-waisted skinnies!

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  8. Now, I look better in wide legs, and sat out skinny jeans resolutely for an entire decade:). Thank you for the mention, much appreciated, and I think you and your sister are a) wise b) showing real Style in your strategy.

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    1. Oh, the wisdom is all Rachel's. but thanks! It is good to know what suits us best, isn't it?!

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  9. I can't give up on the Katherine Hepburn pants, even though it is contraindicated for women of my shape. I do think it's all about proportion - I bet there's a great version of that line for your body (smaller pleats or higher waist, slightly shorter leg and maybe no pockets). I say, wear all the pants!

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    1. It's true -- I don't quite give up on them either, trying different versions through the years, um, decades -- I doubt I've been without some variant or other in my wardrobe for more than a year at a time, if at all. But I'm with you, wearing all the pants, and for now, skinny jeans are an important part of the mix.
      By the way, not sure if you saw my recent post about the mis-translated menu we met in France, but I think that Wear all the Pants! could somehow be strengthened by Squid to the Romans! Right up there with Power to the People, no?

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  10. I'm with you on the skinnies. The photographic evidence is clear...for my frame and shape, keeping the bottom half "narrow" best balances my proportions. The good news is that I think we've progressed fashion-wise away from a single style being "in" so choices are (usually) better.

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    1. We do seem to have progressed -- no longer do we have to replace all the stovepipes with the bellbottoms within four months! ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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