This particular photograph of me was taken at one of our New Year's parties in the '80s. Check them cuffs, baby!
When I was a kid, there were two types of gifts I loathed getting: books and clothes. Two things which, ironically, I can’t seem to get enough of now. But in 6th grade, I wasn’t that concerned about what I was wearing. And given the atrocities I was photographed in during my teenage years, I’d say I wasn’t that concerned in middle school either. Or maybe I was overly concerned. The line kinda blurs.

I considered my parents very fashionable in those days. Especially my father. Pastels, cowboy boots, fedoras, expensive leather shoulder bags. All at different times, mind you. Not all at once. He was trendy without being kitschy. The classics were always there. In a way, it gave me license to dress however I wanted, provided it fit the occasion. When it came to needs and wants, I was focused on video games, baseball cards and Star Wars figures. Never clothes.

But you always remember your first love…

I was a horrible basketball player. Just not that good at sports in general. Whatever sneakers I owned at the time were either generic Reeboks or Adidas. Still, I lusted after a pair of white Nike Series IV Air Jordan’s. The kind with grey accents dotted with little black speckles. The A-shaped straps that came up from the sides and attached to the laces through little honeycomb-like tabs. The jump man logo on the tongue and the NIKE AIR name emblazoned on the back heel in hard plastic that, letter by letter, was always the first thing to wear down and peel off.

Yeah, those. I needed those.

It was the spring of 1989. I was 12. My grades were mediocre. The shoes were $100. The math wasn’t working out in my favor. Still, I wore my parents down like a champ to get those shoes, and when I put them on, I felt like a complete bad ass. A non-basketball-playing, Men-At-Work-listening, Star-Wars-watching, stamp-collecting bad ass. The first time someone accidentally stepped on my shoe in the hallway at school, I flipped like Buggin’ Out in Do The Right Thing. At the end of the day, the tip of my thumb was brown from licking it and wiping off scuff marks.

Kayden, my step-son, seems to be following in the same footsteps as myself and his father. T-shirts, shorts, sneakers and sweatshirts. The occasional polo and button-down when the situations calls for it. He’s relatively unfazed by the current wave of en vogue accoutrements for middle school boys. (Read: saggy pants, foil-stamped shirts, flat brimmed baseball caps, girlfriends.) Skinny jeans, however, were just too powerful a force to overcome. He needed to have skinny jeans.

“Form fitting?” Totally. Skinny? No. That ship has sailed, and even if it hadn’t, I still wouldn’t pay a ticket to get on it.

Let it be known that my wife can — and on occasion does — wear skinny jeans. I, on the other hand, cannot. “Form fitting?” Totally. Skinny? No. That ship has sailed, and even if it hadn’t, I still wouldn’t pay a ticket to get on it. Not that I’d classify myself as a hater. It’s just not a look I’m particularly fond of on men or boys. Same goes for children’s clothing with either one or all of the following screen-printed on it: motorcycles, birds of prey, guitars, more than one skull. Fortunately none of these interest The Boy either, but The Jeans are another story. On the schoolyard, they are a shining beacon of coolness, just like my sneakers were for me. So far be it from me to deprive The Boy of something that’s going to make him feel like a total bad ass.

NOTE: At this point it’s probably worth mentioning that I somehow guilted my father into buying me a pair of Reebok Pumps a few years later, which probably still holds up today as the stupidest and most gimmicky footwear choice in history, barring dudes who wear Shape-Ups.

So we shot on down to the mall, tried on a few different styles, and came home with a pair of black Volcoms so tight I was sure he wouldn’t be able to fit into them after the first wash. But he did, and now they’ve become a staple in his wardrobe. We even bought a second pair just the other day so he can have something to wear when the first pair is in the laundry. That’s how much he loves those things, and I can see his attitude change when he has them on. They put a swagger in his step, which may or may not be due to the death grip they have on his thighs. Point is, they make him happy, and that makes me happy. I’m sure next year it’ll be something new; some other passing fancy that he’ll look back on in 20 years and laugh about. Just like I did with Cross Colours. Or Jimmy’z cargo pants with the velcro belt. Or Hypercolor shirts. Or maybe JAMS shorts. Or maybe I just need to stop judging anyone’s decisions on clothes ever.

Comments on An ode to skinny jeans

  1. this makes me laugh

    i’m still pretty young and high school is still pretty vivid in my mind and i remember when the skinny jeans tread started when i was in high school, but at the time they really didn’t make skinny jeans for guys just yet so guys were left to rummage their sisters’ closets for jeans

    i had many friends who’d complain about how their younger brothers stole their favorite pants. it’s defiantly a different conversation to have. and after a few break ups, getting my stuff back consisted of getting back my skinny jeans

    now they make skinny jeans even for toddlers! my son has quite a few pairs (he even has a few pairs of girls jeans mixed in too)

    • I’ll never forget the day a friend turned to me in class senior year of high school and asked, “Isn’t L.E.I. a girls clothing line?” because a guy in the front of the class was wearing a pair.

  2. Fashion is fun! I remember having to have these cool sunglasses in high school.

    My only concern for super tight jeans on boys/men is the possible sperm count issues…

  3. ah, fads… you gotta love em.
    I wasn’t too much into them myself, at least that I can remember. Umbro shorts maybe? Club Monaco T’s in every colour… well, things don’t change much cause i just got over boyfriend blazers and went straight into 70’s secretary dresses 🙂

  4. Ah yes, skinny jeans. I remember when they were so popular when I was in high school (graduated in 1989, so I’m a few years older). I’ve never been one to follow the trends much, despite my mother’s efforts.

    One of my best friends decided to buy me jeans for my most recent birthday. I spent over an hour trying on jeans, and modeling them for her. (And I HATE shopping. If I can’t find it in 15 minutes, I decide I don’t need it.) And of course, she chose a pair of skinny jeans (over my protests).

    I have to admit, they make my butt look great.

    • be happy hes a boy! not that it really matters but helping my parents with my thirteen year old sister and my 15 year old brother has taught me that its alot easier to buy boys clothes and keep them modest… on my little sisters christmas list? a push up bra

  5. If it makes you feel better, skinny jeans are on my 26-year old brother-in-law’s christmas list, too. I will never understand how they became popular for guys, but then I will also never understand why we thought that tight rolling pants was awesome, either.

      • Kind of. “Jeggings” or legging jeans are like, skinny jeans but even skinnier with a whole bunch of stretch in them. They are super awesome for tucking into boots because even regular skinny jeans can get all bunchy when you try to tuck them into your footwear. And the stretchy makes them awesomely comfy. And if you’re like me and have wide hips and comparatively tooth-picky legs, regular skinny jeans only look vaguely stove-pipe-ish, and legging jeans are the only thing that can actually give me the skinny jean look I want.

        There are however, actual legging that are printed upon to look like a pair of jeans, and those are pretty much the biggest fashion disaster ever.

  6. Just a note on guys who wear shape-ups: My husband and I both got a pair a year ago, they’re damn comfortable, and he immediately had better posture. They also help me survive 8 hour work days on my feet. The whole workout thing is dubious, but they’re constructed in a way that forces you to walk differently, and we both agree they’re the best shoes we’ve ever bought.

    • Hrm. Well, I’m not going to argue their orthopedic merit or their comfort, especially since I’ve only tried on a pair and never owned them, but I’m a bit skeptical of wearing them out and about. That’s just me, though. I also have a pair if UGG boots at home, which my son has barred me from wearing with shorts to and from school if I actually need to exit the vehicle.

  7. haha this post cracked me up. I think if you grew up in 80’s fashion you have no right to judge anyone else’s taste in clothes regardless of how awful or ridiculous it is!

  8. I was terribly UNfashion conscious as a child. The only thing I ever asked was for my mom to “Poof my bangs!” like my second-grade friends. (Hey, it was the early nineties.

    • See, but Swatches have withstood the test of time. They remain awesome to this day. I used to have a Haley’s Comet one with a clear green strap. Remember the cool guards you could get for the face? Those were just as much fun to mix and match as the watches themselves.

  9. My parents would take us to the mall for school clothes shopping and give us a limit. They were always right there with us to hand the cashier the card but we had to stay within in our limits. My dad would say “Are you sure you want those jeans?” and I, trying to be as trendy as I could be on my budget – which was considerably low seeing as how I was one of 4 kids- would leave the mall with, oh, say 2-3 items. And my parents, they let me leave the mall with no jacket, no close-toed shoes. And God-forbid it if I should DARE wear black shoes with my brown belt, or a brown jacket with my black shoes.

    Anyway, I was a mess. Now I stick to solid colors and jeans. Why couldn’t someone have told us these things sooner? Not that I’d fit in my high school jeans anymore anyway.

  10. girl! i look good in my jeggings! plus the hold in the fupa not costco muffn it out! they are only second to my not your daughters jeans. pre child i never wore pants. but i learned early on stockings and skirts not so great in momdem

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