Friday, May 17, 2013

The Fashion Musings Of A Gen-X Mom

A couple of months ago I lost a few pounds.  My jeans were getting loose and I was thinking of breaking down and heading to the mall for replacements (a painful task, as every woman, of every size, knows).  I decided to go to my closet first to take stock.  Among a few others were my four favorites:

  • 1 pair of flare jeans.  These have been my absolute favorite jeans for about 5 years.  Comfy, flattering to my butt, the perfect shade of indigo, and the right shape to make my whole figure look its best.  (The irony of that being that in the 80's I swore to my mother on everything holy I could think of that I would NEVER wear the hideous "bell bottoms" of her generation.  Not if my life depended on it. Granted the newer version, flares, were a lot more flattering, with pockets placed to better accentuate one's derriere.  And generally NOT made of plaid. But still, there might have been an "I told you so" or two after this jean purchase.)
  • A pair of boot-cut jeans.  With a worn look and a sort of boyfriend fit, these were my favorite relaxing jeans.  No pinching, no squeezing, just a little bit of style with a generous helping of comfort.  They were only 2 years old and I hated to let them go.
  • A pair of straight-leg jeans.  Bought 3 years before, these were a "wishful thinking" purchase.  They cost more money than I should have spent and were very stylish--though the smallness of the leg hole made me a bit uncomfortable at the time--but bought a size too small to motivate me to lose weight.  Now even these were a bit loose.  And that leg hole was now somewhere in no-man's land between the last decade's flares and the new generation's skinny jeans.
  • And yes, 1 pair of skinny jeans.  When I had bought these, about a year ago, I had laughed so hard at this impostor version of myself that I actually took pictures and posted them on Facebook with the same attitude I would have had if I were sporting those big black glasses with the fake mustache attached.  "Haha, look at me!  I'm so ridiculous!"  (The irony of THAT being that after I had outgrown my hatred of bell bottoms and embraced flares, I looked back on the 80's version of skinny jeans, "pegged pants," and laughed at how I could ever have thought those hideous things were flattering.  Waistline up to your boobs, pockets placed high to elongate your heinie, and leg holes that were never skinny enough so they had to be pinned or folded over and rolled (i.e. "pegged").  UGH.  I was so glad to have seen the light and put those pegged days behind me that I made another promise to the gods that I would never wear those monstrosities again.  I threw in a little bit of pinky blood for good measure.)
So, what to do?  I had every style of jeans from the last 3 decades (though all bought in the last 5 years) in my closet, and they were all my favorites.  I could feel a crisis coming off to the mall I went.  (There is no better place to have a clothing crisis than the mall.  Those guys who invented the food court sure knew what they were doing!)

I stopped at what I thought was a mostly teeny-bopper store first.  I figured that teenagers are probably the only ones who really knew what kind of jeans are hip.  And besides, despite being a mother of three in my VERY late 30's, I prefer to dress younger than my age rather than older.  The days of wanting to grow up and wear Mother's pearls are gone!  I headed for the jeans wall and perused my options.  Disappointingly, the labels on each shelf resembled the jeans in my closet: Flares, Boot-Cuts, Skinny jeans.  Each in a variety of body shapes and colors.  I zeroed in on the curvy shelf, grabbed one of each style, and made my way to the dressing room. 

I started with the flares, my most familiar look.  Bad. Bad. Very bad.  I hated every single one!  I moved on to the boot cuts--closer to the fashion of the day, but not so very extreme.  Dowdy, unflattering, bad.  Ok, that left only one choice.  On went the skinny jeans and.....I swear angels began to sing and stars began to twinkle in my periphery.  I loved them!  I looked thin, young, hip, and because these had some stretch, they fit like a second skin.  I couldn't believe it but in that moment I had made the switch;  I was no longer a flare jeans girl.  I was a skinny jeans girl.  I bought those jeans and left more elated than I had been after jeans shopping since I found a pair of Palmettos on sale for $12 at TJ MAXX circa 1986. 

Since that day I have bought several pairs of skinny jeans.  There is a little skill involved in skinny jeans shopping, I've discovered.  For one thing, the crime of this generation's jeans is the low waist. I don't care whether you're 5 or 55; if you have the slightest bit of fat around your tummy, hips, or back, it's going to jump out and sing you a ditty when you wear low-waisted jeans.  So you HAVE to find some that are mid-rise at the very least.  Secondly, skinny jeans HAVE to have some stretch to them. If you wear them like the kids, they look poured on.  If you wear them like me, they're very fitted, but not quite so tight as sausages.  But either way, you're not getting them past your thighs (forget sitting down!)  if your jeans don't have a bit of stretch.  I bought some without stretch last fall when all the bright-colored jeans first hit the stores.  I was sucked in by a pair of sky blue skinny jeans only to discover that walking around in them was like wearing a wet suit made of titanium.  So just know, if you're going skinny, make sure the label says "cotton/lycra."

So here I am, wearing my gorgeous, dark blue, contrast-stitched skinny jeans, flopped on my bed with my laptop on my thighs, comfy as if I were wearing pajamas and feeling more like 19 than 39.  And I'm not alone.  As I look around at the woman of my generation, more and more they're wearing skinny jeans, embracing neon, and pulling ballet flats out of boxes in their closets 25 years old.  When did we switch from wanting to wear our mothers' pearls to wanting to wear our daughters' jeans?  I don't know, but looking back at what our mothers wore when I first became aware of fashion, I'd say this is a step in the right direction, blood oaths be damned.