Lying on the bed and sucking in your stomach to button up your favorite pair of jeans seemed to be a daily routine. Who wouldn’t take a little pain for fashion? But that sacrifice may be a thing of the past with the trend toward comfy, form-fitting jeans.
First came skinny jeans, an extra-tight version of regular jeans. After leggings — skin-tight trousers made from a nylon-Lycra blend previously used for exercise pants — caught on, they evolved into jeggings, leggings disguised as jeans, complete with faux pockets and zipper line to look authentic.
At Willowbrook Mall, shoppers were showing a distinct preference for second-skin jeans. “These are more comfortable and go with more,” said Taylor DeLorenzo of Mountain Lakes of her skinny jeans. “You can pull these on and dress them up. They are stretchy and not as constrictive as jeans. I mean, I still have jeans but I hardly ever wear them.”
Men are buying into the craze, too. David Lipke, men’s senior editor for Women’s Wear Daily magazine, said that skinny jeans have been a “key” trend for men, estimating about 10 to 20 percent of men are wearing them.
“It started with straight leg and got skinnier and skinnier over the past few seasons,” Lipke said. “We had trade shows in New York and they are all showing straight or skinny leg.” There are even men’s jeggings. Lipke added that some men buy women’s jeans for an even tighter look.
The tight-but-comfy trend is spiking retail sales. Levi’s, for instance, reports its skinny jeans sales have been on the rise for a few seasons.
“More people are buying jeggings than regular jeans because they are more comfortable,” said Tina Smith, a Bebe employee at Willowbrook Mall.
Lipke and Kim Friday, senior fashion editor for WWD, say boot-cut jeans are still the top seller for both genders, but Marissa Grumer, senior market editor for Seventeen magazine, says skinny could be the new staple.
“It’s right up there with boot cut and straight leg,” Grumer said. “It’s an easy trend to wear and is easier to wear with boots. Especially right now in the season, it fits great with boots.”
“I think people are getting smarter,” said Janine Chilton-Faust, vice president of Levi’s women’s design. “They know that they can buy a pair of jeans that provides comfort and style without compromise.”
And you don’t have to necessarily be skinny to wear a pair; Apt. 9 Skinny Jeans sold at Kohl’s offers them for curvy women. Grumer advises, though, that curvy types steer away from the thin fabrics because they are very revealing. “If you have curves, look for thicker fabric in the skinny because it can be very slimming, especially in indigo or black colors.”
Friday also advises shoppers to use their judgment. “It’s all about age appropriateness … and what you think looks good on your body,” Friday said. “Just because it is a trend doesn’t mean you have to follow it.”
But what about the future of jeans? Will comfort be the death of hard denim?
“Beyond super stretch, there is still a fashion consumer that loves an authentic look and feel inspired from vintage,” Chilton-Faust said. “Therefore the boyfriend jeans and retro flares will live on.”
Friday predicts a change for the spring season. “Skinny jeans have been seen for years,” Friday said. “They are still a huge seller, but in the spring it will move back to flare.”