Sitting in front of the Forth Bridge in South Queensferry, Scotland

I’m splitting up with skinny jeans, and it’s pretty much the hardest thing I’ve ever done

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Well, it finally happened: after more than 10 (mostly) happy years together, skinny jeans and I are over.

It’s not them, it’s me. Well, I mean, it’s partly them, obviously. Because ever since Gen Z declared that skinny jeans are out (along with side parts, apparently, but let’s not even go there…), I’ve been looking at denim a little bit … differently.

It’s not that I want to be fashionable, you understand. I mean, you’re looking at a woman here who spent several years of her life dressed like a 50s housewife, so you can trust me when I tell you that being fashionable – in the true sense of that word – just isn’t something that’s a priority for me.

skinny jeans are out: here's what I'm wearing insteadWhile following trends for the sake of it has never been my thing, though, there is a process I think of as Adjustment of the Eye, and it’s something I think we’re all susceptible to, really. It goes a bit like this:

STAGE 1: New Style emerges, and is immediately adopted by models, fashionistas, and cool girls on Instagram who can look good in everything. But New Style is different from Old Style, so naturally everyone else hates it. “I will wear Old Style forever,” they proclaim confidently. “They’ll have to prise Old Style out of my cold, dead hands! New Style is just for skinny models and cool girls on Instagram: it’ll never catch on!”

STAGE 2: New Style starts to catch on. Now it is being worn by normal people on Instagram, as well as by Cool Girls. Hmm. YOU will still not wear it, though, because YOU are not a fashion victim, and you alone can see how ridiculous everyone looks in their silly New Style. LOLZ.

STAGE 3: Even more people are wearing it now. In fact, you’ve stopped even noticing it, really: it just seems kind of normal at this point? The eye, it is starting to adjust…

STAGE 4: Maybe you’ll just try New Style. Just once. Just in the privacy of your own home, where no one can see you. Just to see what the fuss is about.

STAGE 5: It doesn’t look as bad as you thought it would, actually. You still won’t wear it out of the house, obviously, but maybe you should just keep a hold of it, in case you change your mind?

STAGE 6: Is it just your imagination, or has Old Style started to look a bit… well, OLD, really? And not in a good way?

STAGE 7: That’s it, I’m doing it: I’m wearing New Style out of the house!

STAGE 8: I’m doing it again!

STAGE 9: I’m going to do it ALL the time!

STAGE 10: Literally can’t believe I used to wear Old Style. I mean, SERIOUSLY.

For me personally, I’d say I’m on about stage 6 of my Adjustment of the Eye regarding skinny jeans. I’ve reached the point where the veil has been lifted, and I have, once again, been able to see skinnies as the sausage-casing-for-legs that they appeared to be back in the noughties, when they first started to gain in popularity. I kind of hate them, actually, which is awkward, because, as well as having to confront the fact that, hey, I’ve just spent the last 13 years or so looking like a denim golf club, I’ve not quite reached the point where I’m ready to re-embrace the wide legs and bootcuts that are being hailed as their replacements.

Wide legs make me look as broad as I am tall.

Mom jeans look horrific on me. (This hasn’t stopped me buying them, obviously, but, I dunno, maybe it should have?)

Bootcuts and flares bring back horrible memories of sodden, frayed hems, being dragged along the street on a rainy day, and only ever being the right length to wear with heels OR flats, never both. I am not ready to go back to them. It’s like, we are never, ever getting back together, bootcuts, OK?

What’s more, I think I’ve finally reached a point where I can understand why people say that if you wore a particular trend the first time around, you won’t want to wear it again. On me, you see, bootcut jeans wouldn’t make me look fresh and modern and totally on-trend: they’d just make me look like someone who stopped buying clothes back in 2003, and who has remained oblivious to the passing of time since then. Like, where is my Juicy Couture tracksuit and Ugg boots? When will Britney release her next album? What is a “blog”?

[jeans and jacket both c/o]

All of which is to say that I’m splitting up with skinnies: and, given that summer has decided to never arrive here, and it’s too cold for dresses most of the time, I need an alternative.

The good news here is that there’s no shortage of choice. A quick scroll through the jeans section at, for instance, reveals the happy news that pretty much ALL styles of denim are available right now. Skinny jeans are “out”, sure: but there’s still plenty of people wearing them (Where I live, for instance, I’d say they’re still the dominant style, by a long way…), and plenty of them to buy. But there are also wide legs, straight legs, bootcuts, boyfriend jeans, girlfriend jeans, mom jeans – and yes, even dad jeans. I kid you not. I mean, it has to be said, it’s a pretty good time to be a denim fan, all things considered.

As for me, meanwhile, in these photos I’m wearing the relaxed skinny, which is kind of like a gateway drug for those of us attempting to ease ourselves from skinny jeans to other styles. So they’re still skinny – I mean, obviously – but, unlike the other jeans I’ve been wearing over the past few years, they’re not totally skin-tight, so they looks a little more contemporary than the ubiquitous superskinny or jegging, but without all of the styling issues that come with a completely different silhouette.

From this starting point, I’ve successfully made the leap to girlfriend jeans (Again, wider in the leg than skinnies, but not so wide that they’re flapping around my legs as I walk), and have even purchased – wait for it – a couple of pairs of slim mom jeans, plus some straight legged crops. I mean, I haven’t actually been able to bring myself to wear any of these (With the notable exception of the girlfriend jeans, which are pretty much ALL I’ve worn over the last couple of months), because every time I put them on, I feel like I’m cheating on my skinnies – and even though I no longer love them, these new/old styles still look all kinds of wrong on me. I want to wear them, though, and I feel like that’s an important first step: I just need to let my eye adjust for a little while longer.

It has, then, been a difficult breakup between me and skinnies. Like, thank God Olivia Rodrigo released an entire album’s worth of breakup songs to get me through it, you know? Now, let’s not even talk about my weird urge to buy a pair of Birkenstocks…

Amber standing in front of the Forth Rail Bridge, South QueensferrySkinny jeans are out: here are some alternatives …

Alternatives to Skinny Jeans

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books by Amber Eve
  • Maria


    I don’t think skinny jeans look bad or old, I just think it’s all about finding a pair that is really good quality and has a nice fabric/fit to it. Low cost skinnies have always looked like sh** on me, making my knees look huge and lumpy, but recently I dug out a mint colored skinny from 2012 and I was surprised by how quality it is, it doesn’t lump around the knees. A true sartorial miracle. They will have to pry them from my cold, dead hands now, lol.
    With time, quality has started to be more important than being up to date, to me. I mean, I could buy the first 80’s linen shirt I find at the consignment shop and look like I stole my grandpa’s wedding frock, or I could choose a classy shirt or have it slightly tailored and have it look good on me while maintaining its 80’s vibes, all because I actually like those vibes more than the latest 00’s trend.
    My point is that having so much choice right now, I don’t want another dictatorship (like the one of the skinny jeans, or the low rise skinnies) dictating me what to wear because I literally can’t find anything else in the shops.
    I don’t care if gen z thinks I’m old, I look absolutely horrible in most mom jeans and can’t stand the extra fabric making me look like I have a sagging crotch (sorry it’s just that it looks like that ???? ), I understand being fashionable is important to younger generations but to me is more important looking good and feeling comfortable.

    June 2, 2021
  • Sabrina


    I just about completely second everything that Maria said!
    To me, quality makes a difference when it comes to jeans. No matter the style. But it is hard to find something that just fits perfectly.
    And lately, with the pandemic and everything else going on, it’s all about feeling confortable in my own skin. Using whathever I like and feel beautiful in.

    June 2, 2021
  • Erin


    So I finally just got used to skinny jeans a few years ago, but great news, I KEPT all of my bootcut jeans and bell bottoms, so I don’t need to do a complete denim overhaul. The only real issue is that some of those jeans were annoyingly low-cut and now that’s not only out, but as someone 20 years older, I realize even if it was in, I’m not interested in fighting the muffin top again. Being middle-aged is strange. Freeing, but strange.

    June 2, 2021
  • Lynn Jones


    Hmmm…. Do skinnies suit everyone? No, possibly not, so giving people a choice around jeans sounds like a good thing. More choice please.

    Not sure I would proclaim the look is dead. Maybe shrink a little, go into a subculture, etc. But then, I don’t work for a company looking to make you buy things…. ????

    June 2, 2021
  • Fiona


    I used to love a skinny jean but post-baby it’s all about the comfort of leggings… (even nearly four years on!) In fact everything is about the comfort. I never thought I’d be a back-pack and trainers person but practicality and comfort outweigh pretty handbags and ballet flats. I’m cool with it, though, as blisters and sore backs aren’t attractive anyway!

    June 3, 2021
  • last year's girl


    This post made me giggle because I never stopped wearing bootcut jeans, so I am thrilled to learn that six days off my 39th birthday I have finally come back into style!

    The ones you’re wearing look great on you regardless.

    June 3, 2021
  • Danielle


    I have had to part ways with my skinny jeans and I am loving it!

    Danielle |

    June 4, 2021
  • Nicola


    I love your description of the Adjustment of the Eye! It’s something I’ve definitely noticed as well. I’m in my early thirties and so mom jeans just look like, well, *mom* jeans to me; they’re the jeans my mum wore when I was wee, and sometimes when I emerge from the COVID crysalis that is my house I see teenagers and young women dressed like it’s the 90s again and wonder if time has reversed while I’ve been cooped up inside (but, fortunately, no, it has not, because their mobile phones are smaller than the average brick).

    But even though I’m not ready to embrace the return of 90s fashion, I still do notice now that the things I thought were the height of chic when I was at uni, like skinny jeans and ballet flats, are starting to look well, less chic and more dated. So I’m somewhere between steps 3 and 6, where I’m noticing that my go-to jeans for the last decade are no longer “cool”, but also haven’t adjusted enough to the new trend to be comfortable trying it out. I think the pandemic has also had an effect on this, because I’ve seen more carefully posed pictures on Instagram and fewer actual human beings in the last 15 months than normal.

    June 5, 2021
  • minae


    Jeans have been a staple in my wardrobe pretty much all my life so imagine the confusion when younger gen z’s suddenly decided skinny jeans were out! I just recently bought a pair of mom jeans and they’re so baggy but oh so comfy and stylish! I think trying out other jeans has elevated my looks immensely, but i totally get the defiance to trying it out lol

    minae ♡

    June 17, 2021