The skinny jean has done us a solid—not just for moms struggling to find flattering post-baby pants, but every female. It has widespread appeal: they create a long, lean line of the legs, gently suck in and camouflage any jiggly bits, look great with almost any shape of top and, are more publicly accepted than leggings because they are, essentially, pants. Plus, thanks to its figure-hugging style, you can layer tunics and dresses over-top, basically extending your wardrobe. Being a favourite silhouette also means they’ve stuck around for a few seasons, and by now most of us have at least a few in a variety of colours and textures (I admit I own 10 pairs, from cotton khaki to velvet, to a black pair I can even do yoga in).
Over lunch with friend and style expert Ingrie Williams (she’s the resident fashion guru for Best Health, and contributes to The Kit, Slice.ca and Cityline), she tells me that it’s totally fine to wear the skinnies I already own for spring, but if I’m up for a change there are two styles that I should consider adding to my wardrobe rotation: the slim boyfriend and the cropped flare.
SOME FAVE BOYFRIEND STYLES
Now, the boyfriend jean has been around for a while, but I’ve been too dedicated to my skinnies to notice. And, with good reason. Before the ‘slim’ boyfriend, the original boyfriend jean were actually men’s’ jeans worn by stylish ‘it’ girls who made them their own—casually cuffing the hem or pairing it with a cropped jacket to define their waist. But, if you weren’t blessed with this type of sartorial style, wearing men’s jeans just looked ill fitting. “The first incarnations of the boyfriend jean still could have been a dude’s jean, which is a hard to wear for most women who have hips. Now, with the slim boyfriend there’s a melding of that slouchy fit along with a tapered silhouette making it more flattering for women,” says Williams.
Williams also raves about the cropped flare for spring, but warns that it can be tricky to wear. She recommends looking for high-waisted versions that skim the hips and thighs, winging out slightly and hitting just above the ankle. Brands that offer the cropped flare in Petite and Tall are favourites, too. “This way you can rock the right proportion,” she says. And, pay attention to the length of the cuff: it should end at the slimmest part of your lower calves and ankles to help elongate the legs.
SOME FAVE CROPPED FLARE STYLES
Since I already own a pair of flared pants (not cropped, but similar enough) I opt for the slim boyfriend and end up heading off to GAP. They’ve coined their version the ‘girlfriend’, and are available in a plethora of colours/fabrics, ranging from denim, chino, twill stripe and chambray. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the wall of pants I quickly grab the railroad stripe (an off-white shade with pin-size stripes). It’s not a jean but I don’t have this colour in my wardrobe so it’ll fit in nicely (plus I was chasing after my toddler in the store and I had to make a speedy, style decision). When I pull them over my hips I immediately think they’re too big (they’re not), but that’s how delusional you get when you’ve only been wearing skinny pants. There’s no fabric hugging the entire lower half of my body, no pulling of fabric to get it to sit properly. It’s simply, loose yet flattering in all the right places.
Happy with my ‘new’ silhouette, I begin my test-drive. I pair it with a button-front shirt (tucked in front as per Ingrie’s style tip) and Adidas Superstar sneakers for a backyard BBQ, then a lacy cotton T and flats for a press event. I even wear it with a shimmery tank that skims the waist, and heels for a night out. The verdict? It doesn’t kiss my curves and I can’t wear it under a tunic or dress, but it’s as versatile as my skinnies. My next style dilemma? Footwear. But that’s a whole other post.
Ingrie’s Styling Notes…
If you choose cropped flares: While distressed washes look great in the boyfriend jean, a frayed hem is the only vintage vibe you’ll need, here. And if you’re rocking a high-waist, tuck in your shirt at the front to show it off. On the footwear front, choose shoes that hit lower down on the foot (exposing more skin) to create a longer line.
If you choose the slim boyfriend: Score! You can wear the same tops you wore with your skinnies. “Generally the rule would be to go slimmer on the top half, but we’re seeing that a little bit of volume on top and on the bottom can look cool—you just don’t want ginormous proportions on both sides,” says Williams. To keep a looser top from looking too shapeless, tuck the front of the shirt into your waistband to help define the waist. Wear it with a low-cut sneaker, or dress it up with pointy-toe lace up flats. “If you’re jonesing for more height, opt for a block heel sandal with one strap over the toe, or around the ankle.”