FINALLY – jeans that you can breathe in…
I will always remember my first foray into ‘proper’ denim. I must have been about 14 and my Dad took me to adult Gap to get my first pair of jeans. Not kids Gap, but adult Gap. I felt as though I’d magically turned 18 overnight. Being a ’90’s kid all I ever knew before that moment were the stretchy benefits of lycra and how practical combat trousers with 25 pockets on each leg could be. I walked out of the store with a pair bootcut indigo wash jeans and the love affair began.
My sixth form years saw the popularity of skinny jeans increase and by the time I went to uni my denim wardrobe consisted only of pairs that looked like they could have been spray painted onto my legs. If I had a penny for each time I’d had to repurchase a pair of black jeans because my previous pair had turned a colour that can only be described as ‘dishwater grey’, I’d be featured in those awful Daily Mail ‘Rich Kids of Instagram’ exposés. This penchant for spray painted denim continued until very recently when out of nowhere straight-leg jeans made the comeback of all comebacks.
All of a sudden all my favourite style bloggers were donning a style of denim that I hadn’t really taken notice of before. Topshop launched their ‘Mom’ style years ago and boyfriend-fit denim has been doing the rounds for the past couple of seasons, but this straight-leg design was different. It took all the flattering aspects of a skinny jean – the bum-hugging element, the high-waist, the tapered leg – and made them look undeniably cool. An update on denim (which is practically the only thing that I every wear on my bottom half anyway), that my wardrobe desperately needed.
I think the infatuation with this style comes from the fact they’re practically the denim equivalent of throwing on your boyfriend’s shirt in the morning, rolling up the sleeves, tucking it into your trousers, layering some necklaces with it and looking like you haven’t even tried. They’re effortless. The wash is always lived in, the hem almost always distressed and the fit a little bit baggy, but tight in all the right places. I just want to be Lucy Williams ok. Is that too much to ask?
Here’s the kicker though, if shopping for skinny jeans already makes you want to poke a fork in your eye then searching for straight-leg styles is like shopping for jeans when you’re on your period and you’ve just had a bowl of pasta, in sweat-inducing humid conditions. It’s bloomin’ awful. It’s taken me months to find the perfect pair and I’ve searched high and low to find a pair that have all the aforementioned qualities and don’t make me look like a primary school teacher from the ’90’s out on a class trip (Mark’s description, not mine).
Thankfully it was a pair at the lower end of the price scale that clinched it for me and I’ve been scooping them out of the bottom of my washing basket to re-wear them ever since. They’re the Urban Outfitters BDG Axyl Straight Leg Jeans and they were first brought to my attention by Lizzie Hadfield and I’m now forever in her debt because they were exactly what I was looking for. The waist is high but doesn’t cut you in half, the length sits just above the ankle and they’re snuggly on the backside. The wash is great too. I originally got them in the bleached design which gives a bit of brightness to my Wednesday Addams-esque wardrobe, but have since purchased them in to a vintage blue rinse and a black one too. Probably the best function of them though is that although they have that rugged, heavy denim look about them they’re actually pretty thin and extremely stretchy, making them a great choice for a summer jean (and an Italian meal out).
MY FAVOURITE STRAIGHT-LEG STYLES
MY DENIM BUYING GUIDE
If you’re going to brave the shops for denim then try and go when the store opens. Not only will it be quieter, I tend to be much less bloated in the morning pre-pasta.
For preliminary denim research I’d recommend going to a department store so you can test out as many styles as possible from as many brands as possible. I found the peeps in the Denim Studio in Selfridges to be über helpful.
I’m an online shopper myself, so instead I find a style I like the look of, do a Google image search to see it IRL, then order three different sizes and lengths so I can try them on in the comfort of my own home. Free returns are there to be made the most of, people!
Don’t be scared of customisations. I’ve just cut off the bottoms to the pair of white jeans that I own and now I’m back in love with them (despite the fact that they weren’t the cheapest pair of jeans in the world and doing it made me feel a bit sick). I was like Edward Scissorhands eyeing up all the hems in my denim collection. What one’s next?
Walk the walk and do all appropriate jean tests. Sit down if there’s a chair around to make sure you don’t feel like you’re being sawn in half, bend down to pick something up from the floor to test for builder’s bum and do a bit of walking to make sure the fabric feels right on your skin.
So it’s safe to say that I’ve found a new denim comfort blanket for now, but that’s not to say that I’m ditching the skinny-styles just yet. To me, I feel like they’re now more of a ‘winter’ denim in my wardrobe. Perfect for tucking into boots, keeping my calves warm when I don’t much fancy the wind reaching my knees and channeling that Kate Moss flavour that I like to do every single year because I’m so experimental like that. My 13 year love affair continues…
Photos by Lauren Shipley