how to tame your skinnies
We can all think of a fashion trend that we hope will die a quick death. High on my current list are coated jeans, because unless you are literally a giraffe, your legs are going to look fat in jeans made of a shiny, reflective material. Sorry. It’s not really a trend, but I also hate concert t-shirts, because I don’t have any, due to my lifelong fear of public concert venues (so smelly! so loud! and why are my shoes stuck to the floor?).
If skinny jeans are, for you, the trend that refuses to die, I have some bad news: they’ve been going strong for a few years now, and I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon. They may even become [gulp] a classic. You may think you can’t wear them, but yoonanimous says you can. You don’t have to be thin, or long-legged, or even a woman. Herewith, tips on how to take some of the sting out of skinny jeans.
***I’m trying out Pinterest in conjunction with some of my fashion posts so I can share shopping leads. Please follow me on Pinterest (see red button at right) to check out my tried-and-true skinny picks. I’m a Pinterest newbie, so bear with me, and let me know what you think!
1. Length: a salesperson at TBD once remarked to me that her department referred to me as “the 26.5 inch girl.” And here’s why: as soon as I buy skinny jeans, I have them hemmed to a 26.5 inch inseam. I am very specific about the length. I’ve flirted with 27″ and 25″, but 26.5 is my number. That’s about an inch and a half above my ankle bone. Hear me now, believe me later: showing the skinniest part of your leg in a pair of pants will automatically make your legs look skinnier. For most of us, the skinniest part of our leg is our ankles. If, on the other hand, your skinnies go all the way to your shoe, they will make your legs look bigger. I cannot explain the scientific reason for this, but I guarantee it to be the case. Go to your closet, pull out the skinnies you hate, and roll the hem under an inch or two. Makes your legs look better, right? Also probably makes your shoes look better. Solid. A word of caution: hem your jeans too short and you’ll lose the slimming effect–hem them too long and it’ll just look like you shrunk your jeans. Send me a photo if you want a second opinion.
2. Ankle opening: you’re no novice. You already know to check out the length of the rise when you’re buying jeans. No offense to True Religion, but a 6-inch rise is not your friend, at least not if you’ve had children. So let’s take it up a notch–a lot of websites that know their denim will include information about the circumference of the ankle opening. With skinnies, the tighter that ankle opening is, the more they are going to look like a legging, and need I remind you how unflattering leggings are on most people? No, I don’t. I prefer a 10 or 11-inch ankle opening. For reference, the ankle opening on the red pair above is 10 inches. The blue pair above are 11 inches.
3. Stretch: the denim companies are starting to get with the program and are putting less stretch in their skinny jeans. You want a fabric that will give, but that will hold you in. I am convinced this is the sole reason the J Brand 811 twill skinny is so flattering on so many people. The twill is a nice weight and keeps its shape beautifully. I’ve talked about this jean and worn it so many times on this blog that I’m starting to bore myself. Buy some, already.
See my skinny picks on Pinterest…and happy weekend!
Yoona: Debated about whether or not to comment but decided I had to.
Even though those AA t-shirts fit in a way you/I appreciate? That company (and its CEO) is widely known for its atrocious track record wrt women. Awful hiring practices – awful management – all well documented. I want clothes that fit me in ways to boost my self esteem true enough, but to shop with Am Apparel would seem to work against the entire concept.
Not criticizing you personally… full disclosure:I ordered a t-shirt first, then found out from my daughter why she will never order AA. I felt certain you weren’t aware or you wouldn’t have supported the company. Tell me I’m wrong?
Hi Deb. I know AA has been the subject of many lawsuits regarding sexual harassment, most of which have been settled out of court. I also know AA has done a lot to promote a living wage for garment workers here in the states. I’m not advocating one way or the other, and I’m definitely in favor of corporate responsibility, but I guess I haven’t thought enough about this particular company to make a decision one way or the other. Thanks for posting your comment though, so that I can make a more aware and informed decision next time. Yoona
Thanks for the great tips. I have a few questions….what if I wear socks most of the time? I am perpetually chilly and there is no way I can go sockless in Pdx for 9-10 months out of the year! (I envy you folks with strong vitality and warm body temperatures.) Does the crop info/rule still apply?
Also, where in pdx can I try on a some J Brand 811 twill skinnies? I don’t like shopping and like to limit my aimless searching time.
hey lori…you know, i might flirt with textured socks with like a wedge boot, but generally, i think the cropped thing works best if you are willing to go without huge socks. i wear socks with my clarks, they are just the super short invisible kind. and it’s not that my ankles aren’t cold, it’s just that i’m willing to suffer a bit for the look. 🙂
i’ve seen the 811 twill skinnies at nordstrom, in the TBD section…but try ordering a few pairs from revolve clothing. i like clothes but i hate shopping, and i guarantee it is a painless way to do it. you can pick from the full selection of colors, they will arrive in 2 days (free shipping), and they include a prepaid shipping label for your return. and they process returns quickly! http://www.revolveclothing.com/Brands.jsp?search=j+brand+twill+skinny
Thanks so much! I’ll let you know if I can pull off the bright skinny jeans.
Yoona, I don’t know if you take requests but I would love a post on how to wear boots other than tall boots with skinny jeans or skirt&tights. I see it done so successfully but lack the confidence to do it without the kind of guidelines you tend to articulate. Thanks in advance.
While I remain unconvinced my turkey thighs will ever allow for skinny jeans, your fashion posts continue to be inspiring. I will cross my fingers for the death of metallic jeans. Also, welcome to Pinterest!
turkey thighs, ha! you know, some clothes just aren’t worth it. like, tops with mandarin collars. they make my shoulders look really wide. but i think some people who shy away from skinny jeans can really make them work. and i guess the point i should have made is why they might be worth exploring–i find them versatile because they can be dressed up, unlike blue jeans (usually). anyway, thanks for reading, katy.
Okay, here’s the deal. I’m going to be brutally open because if anyone can save me, it’s surely you.
I have a killer set of legs. I’m 6-feet tall with very long legs and have thin ankles. All my life, I’ve been told I’ve got a show-stopper set of gams. But I’m getting freaking old (I turn 50 this year) and I’ve put on some weight (I’m between a size 12 and 14) and this damn age thing means all my excess fat has settled in my stomach. So I’m always looking for ways to camo my belly, and I’m not very good at it.
All this is to say I can’t imagine myself in skinny jeans because I fear they will fit my hips in such a way as to moosh my belly into an even larger blob, and then what kind of top do I wear that works with skinny jeans?
And it’s okay if you say 50-year-old women should not wear them any under any circumstances. I will thank you for your kindness and delight in my yoga pants.
i think this is joan, right? you show up as different names, but i think this is you. anyway, first of all, congrats on having those legs, i am envious. and i’ve heard legs are the last thing to age, so i’m certain that yours look fabulous even at 50. second, i don’t believe in age-appropriateness in fashion, and fully intend to embarrass my boys in their teens by going places in Forever 21 clothing. third, i only tuck blouses into skinny jeans–everything else hangs over, and well over–down past the fattest part of my thighs. and the top that’s hanging is usually loose. so what i’m saying is skinny jeans are actually great if you have a stomach, because they look best with longer, looser shirts. now, that does not solve the problem of the waist spooge, for lack of a better term. i’m guessing pants that fit your legs are usually too tight at the waist, right? so just do what i do, which is to use a rubber band to close your pants, OR sometimes i’ll just wear a belt over unbuttoned pants. i learned that trick when a button fell off a pair of pants and i never bothered to sew it back on. anyway, either technique will allow you to keep the pants up without creating a scary ass muffin top. i hope that helps?
Excellent tips! I may actually try to wear my skinny jeans again…although until I try it, I remain unconvinced that they will be flattering to my legs! 😛
Please report back if you have a change of heart!
PS I’m about to buy a pair of Clark’s desert boots under your influence as well.
they’ll suit you. and i love my brown pair with my yellow cords–they’ll go awesome with those yellow AGs!
You are the skinny jean rescue society! That’s funny.
I thought of you when I bought yellow AG skinnies at Anthropologie last weekend. They were already cropped, and were a wild buy for me, the boringest dresser you ever met. I love them.
uh, you’re hardly the boringest dresser i’ve ever met. i have no idea how you manage to look so chic with three kids under the age of 3.
Love your blog! I live in Los Angeles, also a mom of 2 boys. Your perspective and style sense are entertaining and inspiring. Please keep it up, it’s a great read.
ah, a member of the two boy tribe–we lucky few. thank you–and i love your name! one to add to my list of girl names i love but will never use…
Just wanted to take a moment to say I love reading your blog! And… Maybe I’ll give skinnies another fighting chance. Thanks!
thank you, lovely to hear on a rainy friday. please report back if you give them another go!
Ah — now I get it! Your tips on length and ankle opening explain why I keep leaving certain skinnies in the drawer — thanks Yoonanimous!
i’m like a skinny jean rescue society
Thanks for the tips Yoona. I’ll text you a photo later of me in my new coral colored skinnies – tags still on as I’m debating whether I can pull them off. I know you’ll tell me the truth. 🙂
bring it, sister