Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Skinny jeans in the time of Carbonara

A pair of denim jeans, since its debut on the racks of Levi Strauss, has seen far more makeovers than Michael Jackson’s surgically pieced-together body parts.

First, after being labeled a male worker’s down-and-dirty uniform, denim jeans have found their way out of the miner’s cave and into a woman’s closet, defying clear-cut gender delineation in the then-conservative fashion world.

No sooner could Paris Hilton bolt out of her prison cell, jeans were dyed – washed, stoned and turned acid. The hipline dipped, low enough to show pierced belly buttons and – to the chagrin of the uptight – way too revealing to clog poor daddy’s coronary veins. And then came about the worn-out look.

This was one of those fleeting trends that ruffled by mom’s practical feathers. Not even a nuke threat could coax this stubborn, tightfisted woman from shelling out hard-earned hundreds for a pair of deliberately torn and distressed fresh-off-the-shelf jeans. “Why spend when you can get that look for free from your cousin’s three-year-old hand-me-downs?”

But it’s not just the wash nor the premeditated de-stressing that makes denim jeans a chameleon. Designers have also been sharpening their tailoring scissors to reinvent the cut. The designer’s pick of the hour? The taper cut.

Otherwise strutting by the glamorous name “skinny jeans”, these ankle-hugging, leg-clinging, butt-defining pants have stirred more points of arguments than the much publicized word war between Rosie O’Donell and Donald Trump.

It isn’t clear to me who started the fad but I’ll bet our neighbor’s cat that Kate Moss, throwing a hissy fit over wide-legged trousers that refuse to stay put around her set of lanky legs, one day threw on a pair that would finally cling to her hamstring. And so the much raved-about skinny jeans were finally spotted. First by the paparazzi. And later, by the watching world.

It’s easy to see how this trend has caught up like wildfire among the fashion-forward. Skinny jeans, when worn on a pair of long, lean and shapely legs (think Cameron Diaz), can work wonders. As stretchy meters of fabric delicately cling to every slope and curve, silhouettes are defined. With V-like tailoring that clearly puts emphasis on toned derriere, wearing a pair makes channeling one’s inner Jessica Alba effortless.

But these jeans are named “skinny” for obvious reasons. Unlike the stretchy leggings, a pair is not your regular one-size-fit-all closet-filler. In fact, on some body types, skinny jeans can be unforgiving. The very same clingy fabric that shape curves is the very bane of bulges and swollen calves too.

Since the arrival of skinny jeans, we’ve spotted all leg shapes and sizes. Some long and straight. Others, crescent and stout. A few misguided bloated calves have been seen unabashedly wandering around, looking like, any minute now, veins with blood unable to circulate from all the restriction beneath gripping fabric will unrestrainedly pop like kernels in the oven.

It’s hardly a surprise that, along with the return of skinny jeans, diet has become the fad’s other pea in the pod. Why else would desperate fashion followers skip a plateful of pasta if not for the promise of finally fitting into a pair of leg-hugging jeans? But should Atkins be proven wrong and giving up carbo eventually fails, one may always take comfort in the fact that fashion is as fleeting and fickle-minded as the September storm, and that the wide-legged pants are about to make a comeback.

Perhaps then, being able to wiggle with ease into a pair that dared not to cling to bulges like leech, a plateful of Carbonara would no longer taste as guilt-peppered as in the time of skinny jeans.