Sunday, September 18, 2011

The History of a Pant Leg

It was 1986, and we wore our jeans high and narrow. The waist went way past the navel, the pant leg should be as skinny as humanly possible. In fact, we couldn't get our pants narrow enough at the bottom. Everyone wanted the skinniest pant leg possible, so skinny your heal would barely fit through when you pulled them on. But for some reason, no one actually MADE pants that narrow. Sometimes you could find one with zippers at the bottom and it was proclaimed "totally awesome." Mostly you just had to buy straight legs and peg them. We folded, rolled, sewed, pinned, and tucked our pants into our socks in order to achieve the skinniest pant leg possible. And when we watched old shows from the 70's, we hooted and pointed and wondered how they ever wore something so hideous as bell-bottoms. "All fashion comes back around," my mother told me. "Well, I will NEVER wear bell bottoms," I informed her. "I swear it on my life."

In 1990 I headed across the Great Pond and inland to Germany for a year. When I got to school, everyone said, "Vy do you do zat to your cheans? "Cause I'm cool," I thought. "Duh." But within a few months I realized the Germans were not so into cool and that I just looked weird, so I stopped pegging my pants.

Flash forward to 1991 when I returned home and realized that it wasn't that the Germans weren't cool. It's actually that they were fashion forward. Because guess who wasn't pegging their pants anymore? Anyone. Good thing all my German jeans had been straight leg.

Somewhere after the horror of the fashion-dead-zone that was the 1990's, a retro 60's-70's look came back in fashion. The baggy, shapeless shirts of the last decade were out and tight-fitting baby shirts were in. Guess what else was in? Bell-bottoms! Only they were called flares now. And they weren't the horrible high-waisted type that went up to your ribs like the 70's versions, luckily. (Because nothing became so abhorrent to the child-of-the-80's once the 80's were past as the high waist. ) But I still resisted. Then just as I was about to keep my promise from 1986, I tried them on. And that's when I realized: nothing is so disgusting for a hip-heavy figure like mine than pegged pants. Flares, on the other hand, seemed to distract the eye and make me look far more proportional. Flares it is! My new love! Forget that silly promise I made in my early teen years. What did I know then anyway??

I lived happily for nearly a decade in my flares. The degree of flare changed slightly. The shape and location of back pockets moved. The waist-lines got ever lower and lower and lower until you were lucky if your underwear didn't creep 6 inches above your belt when you bent down. But still, flares prevailed.

And then came the horrible day a few years ago when I saw them: skinny jeans. I would have died for these in the 80's. The skinniest, narrowest, most tapered leg you've ever seen in your life. Matched with stretch material, they could be skin tight and you could still get your heels through the bottom of the leg holes. Only this time around skinny jeans were super-low waisted, creating the soon-to-be-ubiquitous muffin top. Only 11 year olds could wear them without waist fat hanging over the top. It was unlikely for most teenagers to look good in them, and it was hopeless for moms. Fine with me. I had already come to accept that flares were more flattering, and this new ultra-low-rise version of pegged pants was the worst of both worlds. So I just watched from a distance with a baffled expression as teenagers by the thousands ran out and stocked their closets with these super tight, super low, super super ugly skinny jeans.

But soon pant legs in general followed suit. I tried to hold out. As skinny jeans pretty much took over all the stores, and flare legs became nearly impossible to find, though, I had to adjust slightly. To the bootcut. The bootcut is not nearly as flattering to my hippiness as the flare. But what can you do when even Target doesn't carry flares anymore?

And then, last week, it happened. I saw these while out shopping...

"The High-rise Retro Flare" A.K.A, the bell-bottom. I don't know what to think now. I'm nearly dizzy from how fast fashion seems to be cycling through. I've gone from bell-bottoms to pegged pants to straight legs and back to flares, back to skinny jeans and now on to bell bottoms again! Shouldn't fashion cycle through more slowly, like every 20-30 years at least? Wait, has it been that long already? Well, I really going to have to go to the high-waisted retro flare in order to save myself from the ultra-low-rise skinny jean? Sigh... so be it. Beauty is pain.


Charlie N. Holmberg said...

Ha ha, I found this very entertaining.

I admit my favorite jeans were always flares. I hated skinny jeans at first, but they've certainly grown on me--the colorful ones more than the jean-ones, tbh. I have a pair of purple ones (though they're fairly high-waisted, yay!), and my friend has an awesome pair of teal skinnies that I adore. And the great thing with skinnies is that you never need to hem them!

My jeans pet-peeve is the ones that come torn and ragged, NEW. Why would you pay for jeans that look like they're ready for DI?

Financial Aid for College said...

Right you are, CMH! Rags are rags!

And for Arianne: Nyah, nyah, told ya' so!

Really a very funny, very clever, VERY TRUE post. I'm afraid high waists are the ONLY way to avoid muffin tops! Either that or PhotoShop your actual body (Ah that we could!)

(PS, please ignore the byline. I was trying to make a new blog, and can't get rid of this title!)

Bjorge Queen said...

I was thinking just the other day about how many are called but few are chosen to wear skinny jeans. I thought I was going to crap my pants when I saw skinny jeans for girls a few years back, but then something even worse happened: Skinny jeans for guys. And apparently it's not a gay thang either. All the guys are wearing them. And they don't even pull all the way up. It's like boyfriend jeans only girlfriend jeans.

Omgirl said...

BQ, Although I do hate the at-least six inches of underwear hanging out of the top of boy skinny jeans, I'm actually a much bigger fan of them on boys than on girls because 9/10 boys who wear them are stick skinny and they look good. Teenage boys seem to have the sense to say "I'm too fat to get away with those" that teenage girls do not.

Michelle Glauser said...

Hey, for "The Great Plains," try "Präriegebiete im Westen der USA": I got it from, the best German-English online dictionary ever!

Mrs. O said...

I think the waist got lower on skinny jeans in an effort minimize muffin-topiness. I am kind of glad for flares to be in again. I just hate how big they make my butt look.

Chelsea said...

A friend of mine reports that she saw a model wearing pegged jeans in a catalog the other day. We are all doomed. DOOMED!