The Rise and Fall of Skinny Jeans

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If you’re like most millennials and most of us in Gen-Z, skinny jeans have dominated your style since the early 2000s. The trend has been popular for so long that it’s hard to even remember a time when skinny jeans weren’t the standard pants that everyone wore. 

The idea of skinny pants has been around for centuries. They originated in the 1800s with breeches, the ultra-tight men’s pants that provided mobility and comfort, and bloomers, which were tapered down into a slim, legging-like fit that women wore under skirts.

The 20th century saw the skinny pant trend continue to develop; in the ‘50s, close-fitting pants became more acceptable for women to wear, and celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe picked up the style. Skinny jeans also became synonymous with the heavy metal music scene of the ‘80s. Bands such as Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi wore super tight pants for interviews, album covers and even performances.

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In the early 2000s, skinny jeans reached their pinnacle. The style was seen on just about everyone, guys and girls alike. Designers did their best to create new styles of skinny jeans, experimenting with high versus low rises, wash styles, distressed versions and even colored options! The style even made its way onto the red carpet, with stars like Kiera Knightly and Kim Kardashian West making the style more fashion-forward.

As the years have passed, skinny jeans just seemed to rise in popularity, until recently. On runways, celebrities and street-style stars today you’ll see that most are choosing to go for baggier choices when it comes to denim.

While this may be surprising to some of us, there are several reasons why the style seems to be dying out.  Partly, this may be due to the coronavirus pandemic; most people have spent the last few months of quarantine in sweats or pajamas, so the idea of putting on tight pants isn’t that attractive. At the same time, TikTok trends show that Gen Z has deemed skinny jeans as “officially over.”

People are condemning these body-hugging styles and encouraging others to try some baggier options. The design world has followed suit, moving away from skin-tight silhouettes to more relaxed and voluminous denim styles. 

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If skinny jeans are “out” in 2021, then what jeans styles are in? Looser options seem to be the way to go when it comes to buying jeans. Instead of skinny jeans, try looking for new designs that are wide-leg or baggier than the usual pants.  We’ve seen this trend on the runways of top fashion houses such as Chanel and Celine, as well as on top celebrities and street-style stars such as Kendall Jenner and Sophia Richie.

Some of the most popular styles include wide-leg or straight-leg jeans, boot-cut styles, boyfriend or mom jeans and skater jeans. Basically, the baggier and more comfortable, the better. There are tons of styles out there for you to try and experiment with if you’re looking to expand your jean repertoire. Don’t get caught up on the name; if the style is not skin-tight, you’ve found a good option!

If you’re not ready to completely ditch your closet full of skinny jeans, that’s okay. Fashion moves in waves; the trends that are popular right now will eventually decline and those that were considered dead will have a resurgence in popularity. Skinny jeans, while no longer considered the “it” jeans of 2021, are still closet staples that most people aren’t getting rid of. There is a reason that the style made its way to the top of the denim hierarchy and stayed there for almost a decade, and it’s sure to appear back at its top spot fairly soon. 

What are your favorite baggy jean styles? Tweet us @VALLEYmag and show us what you’ve replaced your skinny jeans with!


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