THE NEW DENIM M
High waists aree back
We live in a fast-moving age. Microtrends — Crocs! Plastic trousers! Odd shoes! — sweep the fashion world so fleetingly that 14 minutes after their victims have handed over credit cards the new purchases are already passe. However, let me remind you of something that demonstrates the loyalty and stubbornness of women: skinny jeans.
It has been a good four years since fashion journalists started heralding the death of the skinny. Having been practically compulsory since the early 2000s, the style passed what one would have expected to be its sell-by date long ago. Yet consumers don’t care. Online searches for skinny jeans have decreased by 6 per cent compared with last year, according to global fashion search-engine Lyst, but they’re still ubiquitous from Perth to Parramatta.
Why are we so addicted? Largely, I suspect, because a belief prevails that they’re flattering. I spent my youth in baggy trousers, and when I bought my first pair of drainpipes in 2005 the reaction I got was an admiring “You’ve lost so much weight.” I hadn’t lost a kilo — but I didn’t wear loose-fit jeans again for 10 years.
However, skinnies aren’t without their drawbacks. They’re usually made of high-stretch fabrics, which are unforgiving on lumps and bumps, and go slack in the knees after a few wears and washes. The new wave of jeans, on the other hand, represents a return to proper denim, which offers more structure and support. Edited, a tech company that analyses sales of 342 fashion brands, tells me that the shape that has grown the most in popularity since last year is the “mom jean”. If you are considering branching out I’d suggest this is a good place to start.
High-waisted, straight-legged and significantly more roomy than skinnies, mom jeans are — to address an important style consideration — more comfortable postlunch than any other jeans I’ve worn in the past decade. They don’t have the figure-squashing qualities of skinnies, which compress your organs like a tube of toothpaste, and it may take you a few days to get used to the extra fabric around your tummy, but that’s not to say they can’t be flattering. Tuck a shirt or a T-shirt into mom jeans and you’ll find they provide a great, exaggerated hourglass look. It’s all very Marilyn Monroe.
Lyst reports that Levi’s Wedgie jeans are the most searched-for denim of the moment: essentially sexed-up mom jeans, they get their moniker from the fact they hug the bum a little too closely for comfort, giving it a lift ($149.95, levi.com.au). If a wedgie is, in your view, a price too dear for an attractive bottom, then try my favourites, Mih’s Mimi jeans (from $385, mih-jeans.com), which come in light and dark denims or in true black. (There are few more useful and versatile items of clothing than a good pair of black jeans.) But if you’re not averse to a pop of colour in your denim, Neuw’s Lola jeans are a great option ($179.95, neuwdenim.com).
Erin Fridja, owner of London’s Bad Denim boutique, says if you’re apprehensive about shifting from skinnies, a high-waisted slim leg is the most natural step into something more modern. “It will work with all the looks a skinny worked with, and because it’s not a skintight style you can go for a great heavier-weight fabric with more structure,” she says. Try Kapital’s white Momonroe style ($193, baddenim.co.uk) or Mih’s straight-legged Cult jeans, which use denim that stretches vertically, helping to avoid the dreaded baggy knees ($317, mih-jeans.com). Matchesfashion.com’s in-house label, Raey, offers a good selection for $190 a pair. “Our Press style sits on your hips, it gives you a good shape on the bum and it’s a straight leg with a raw hem,” explains the brand’s creative director, Rachael Proud. “That’s our bestselling jean by miles.” If a frayed hem isn’t for you, the cigarette-legged Clean style has a finished hem. Flares are having something of a moment, but I’ve always been put off by the thought they require skyscraper heels for the full willowy effect. Not so, says Proud. If you want to wear flat shoes, go for a cropped flare. This style will soon join the Raey stable, but in the meantime try Paige’s Flora jeans, which have a ruffled, flared hem ($315, shopbop.com), Frame’s Le Crop style ($333, matchesfashion.com) or the West Coast crop flare from Rolla’s ($139.95, rollas.com).
Cropped styles in general are doing very well this year, according to Edited. A flash of ankle is appealing, but they also look great with boots or even tights or socks. I like mine to end just above the ankle, but if you are fonder of your calves than I am of mine, you may want to go shorter. Experiment with Golden Goose Deluxe Brand’s loose-fit Komo jeans ($342, matchesfashion.com), Topshop’s Moto washedblack versions with a raw hem ($68, topshop.com) or Re/Done’s highrise ankle crops ($394, baddenim.co.uk).
If you’re really not willing to mess with a winning formula, there are still plenty of options in the skinny department, such as the Khaite Vanessa jean (priced from $303 to $366, matchesfashion.com). Stick with a high waist to lengthen the leg and make the look contemporary: try J Brand’s Maria ($337, net-a-porter.com) or Reformation’s High & Skinny Jean ($128, thereformation.com). However, I do recommend you take a leap into the world of new denim. You may not believe it yet, but I promise you: mom’s the word.
Move over, skinny jeans — roomier, high-waisted mom jeans are back HATTIE CRISELL
Clockwise from main picture, colourful Neuw Denim; Levi’s Wedgie jeans do what they say; Matchesfashion.com’s inhouse Raey jeans; cropped, flared and high-waisted Rolla’s