Saved by the Bootcut Jean

I was saved by the boot cut jean.

This was the jean that fooled everyone into thinking that I was not the short, full figured woman they had grown to love. They scratched their heads and wondered how they could have been so wrong. Had I always been tall and willowy and they simply hadn’t noticed? These beautiful jeans even had the name “long and lean”. How could I go wrong?

They made a reality of everything I had always dreamed of.  And I could wear them with ankle boots (you know, with the tall chunky heel) that paired with anything else makes my legs look like sausages crammed into a box.

Yes I could grace the grocery store aisles with confidence, helping pathetically short people (which I used to be) reach that box of Bisquick. The flared opening of my jeans would do its wonderful magic of balancing out the width of my peasant thighs (thanks Mom) and falling nicely atop the ankle boot, keeping it’s boxy nature a secret. People would see me coming and part like the seas, allowing the swish of my flared pant leg to sweep down the aisle with pride.  My denim dream was really true.

Then my world fell apart.  The skinny jean burst onto the scene, just like that horribly perfect girl who arrives at a party and ruins everything, driving you closer and closer to that spot next to the pigs-in-a-blanket.  The skinny jean took me by surprise. I didn’t see this one coming. I saw the flared jean as progress, never anticipating we’d be going back again to anything else.

Have you seen non-skinny people in skinny jeans? It doesn’t work.  No rule of science, logic or common sense allows our eyes to enjoy the imbalance of a larger belly emphasized by the narrow bottom of the pants.  And didn’t we all see the makeover shows not too long ago, showing us just how much more flattering it was to have the leg of the pant slightly angle out, to minimize an imperfect waistline?  Am I the only one who saw that, bought it, believed it, lived it? Was that all a lie? How can they now tell us that it’s ok to wear the jeans they told us to get rid of?

Even the word “skinny” is offensive.  At least call it the “non-fat” jean.

So now what do I do?  My Spanx won’t fit under these things.  And I don’t want to wear long tops every time I want to wear jeans, to hide the disproportionate angle of my body that I am now forced to expose.  Am I going to have to shop at Chico’s, which basically kills any chance of being allowed back into The Gap? Forgive me, but that place says, “I am too old for youthful clothes and too young to look like I winter in Florida.”  It’s limbo land, the last stop before you start buying your clothes in Sarasota, and calling them “outfits”.

And can I even wear a heel with skinny jeans or do I have to wear a flat shoe, so that I can further accentuate my short-stout look?  And if I do wear a heel, I guess we’re back to a skinny heel (there’s that awful word again) which is less comfortable than a thick heel and creates that “I can’t walk very gracefully in these shoes” look.  I will now hobble uncomfortably down the street in skinny jeans, a skinny heel, perhaps drinking a skinny latte, looking like a pig-in-a-blanket, in desperate search of 2008.

I understand that things go in and out of style. What makes me nuts is when we are shown the makeover as “proof” that we were dead wrong about what we were doing. “See, it just makes sense that a heavier mid-section is going to be minimized with a balanced width pant leg,” they would tell us. So when that same makeover victim shows up now, with those flared jeans she was forced to get, is she now redressed back into some version of the jeans she was shamed into burning a few years ago?  Oy.

I’m still searching for the perfect jean in lieu of perfect genes. Meanwhile, I am staying home.  In my bathrobe. Or my animal print Microplush, flame retardant Snuggie.  Call me when it’s safe to step outside again, when jeans once again speak to the average body type of cranky middle aged women.


Kate Lowry is an interior designer located in Portland, Maine.    207-776-9558

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