fashion

'I gave up jeans in my early twenties. Here are the 3 styles I swear by instead.'

Recently my friend turned to me and asked rather curiously, “Do you own jeans? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in jeans.” 

The answer was no. I don’t wear jeans. I haven’t worn them since my very early twenties. I gave them up around the same time I gave up orange foundation and dating men that used milk crates as shelves.  

Basically, jeans do not bring me joy. I can admire a pair of jeans on another person but I don’t associate jeans with good memories or, to be honest, comfort. 

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Firstly, jeans remind me of trailing around shopping centres as a self-conscious teenager and crying when I couldn’t find anything in my size. I desperately wanted to wear low rider jeans like Hilary Duff and The Veronicas, but I could rarely find any that would fit me. 

I look back now and I’m partly grateful to have missed that fashion mistake, but my heart also aches for that little girl who just wanted to feel cool at the school disco. 

Secondly, I don’t find jeans comfortable. I know some people swear they love their jeans - I even have a friend who said she could fall asleep in her jeans - but I just find they nip, pinch and suck me in. I don’t like the feeling; it feels constricting. 

I have no idea how people wear jeans to work and then sit in office chairs all day with the zipper and buttons digging into your precious flesh, but I understand this may be a “me” thing. Perhaps it's my body type, but I’ve never just thrown on a pair of jeans and felt great. 

This is compounded by the fact I find it hard to find jeans that fit me. My waist is small but my thighs are full and I usually can't get them up my legs, and if I can, then they tend to gape at the waist. If we add that I don’t always fit into straight sizing, it just always feels like too big of a task. I think buying clothes should be fun, not a mission.

Thirdly, I hate what jeans can represent. They have become something so many women torture themselves with. They are an unforgiving item of clothing that will no longer fit you the moment your body changes in any way. So many women keep jeans that no longer fit them in their closets and spend their lives feeling upset about it. The reason why they don’t fit anymore doesn’t seem to matter. 

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Women often reference that they have a pair of "skinny jeans" or a pair of "fat jeans" and I find that depressing. As if the size of your jeans is meant to define how you should feel about yourself? I CAN’T fit into those jeans, so I’m fat now. I CAN fit into those jeans because I’m skinny now. 

I feel like your pants should fit you even when you fluctuate. I like pants with stretch that accommodate my body when it is bigger and smaller, that have seen me through birth controls that have changed my body in various ways, lockdowns that made me discover a new meal in between lunch and dinner, and breakups that made me smaller from sadness. 

I think every woman knows the feeling of standing in change rooms trying desperately to squeeze into a pair of jeans and just feeling like a failure because they don’t. Well, I’ve chosen to no longer put myself through that. It doesn’t feel healthy or fun. If shopping doesn’t make me feel like Carrie Bradshaw on a budget, then I’m not doing it. 

So if I don’t wear jeans, what pants do I wear?

Obviously, I’ve owned various pants over the years that I’ve used as my jeans substitute. 

Pants I’ve worn from day to night, pants I’ve worn with just a nice top. Pants I’ve been able to wear to family barbecues and then nightclubs. Pants that I can dress up for work, but dress down for weekends.  

I will admit, I do think I am a bit of a pant expert. Wear whatever makes you feel good, but I do have some recommendations.

Velvet leggings.

Image: Supplied.

You can dress them up, you can dress them down and if you get the right black pair, they’ll make you feel like Sandy at the end of Grease. I don’t think she should have changed her style for Danny but she did look hot!  

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I have a few rules with velvet leggings: they need to be thick velvet, so you don’t see panty lines and you can tuck in a t-shirt if you want to. For a classic look, you can always go black, but I have, in recent years, become devoted to a pair of leopard leggings that I feel add a little something extra to any outfit - a bit of Tiger King sexiness. 

You can style velvet leggings up with a blazer for work or wear a crop top with them on the weekends, and they are just so stretchy. You can eat giant meals, stretch, lunge, even run. I mean, I haven’t run since my PE Teacher refused to believe I had cramps that stopped me from participating in a beep test, but I’m sure I could run in them if required.

BlackMilk make great velvet leggings and they are usually always under $100 - my wallet enjoys that a lot. 

However, my absolute favourite are made by a Lady Startup called Edgeley. They are thick, last forever and the designer can make you a pair to exact measurements so they fit like an absolute glove. They are about $180 a pair but they have become my daily uniform.

Sequin pants.

Image: Supplied.

I love sequins. I understand they aren’t for everyone, but I love them. 

You can dress them down during the day with a relaxed t-shirt or dress them up at night with a fitted shirt. You can pair them with a blazer for work or a low-cut top for date night. They are a must with an elastic waist. Comfy, flexible and easy. 

I also find that lots of designers make sequin pants with elastic waists and it's not a trend I'm complaining about. I have a super old pair from Sass & Bide that I got on sale, but I recently bought a pair from City Chic and I am in love with the fit and feel - plus it just adds some sparkle to my day. They make me feel like I’m a celebrity being papped on a Starbucks run; glam but casual.

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High-waisted bell bottoms. 

Image: Supplied.

They were big in the '70s for a reason - they honestly look good with everything. High-waisted, usually made from velvet or some kind of stretch fabric, they highlight your waist, make you look a little taller and are so bloody comfortable. 

You can dress these down on weekends with t-shirts or dress up with a blazer; they make me feel very Lana Del Rey.

The holy grail of flairs for me are those by Whiskey Rebellion or Flair Street. Both brands are great small businesses to support, and Whiskey Rebellion offers a custom option which I love because you can order to fit you as you are. 

I promise I’m not some crazy anti-jeans crusader. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll find the right pair and my life will be changed? But I do really feel empowered NOT wearing jeans, because I don’t like how they make me feel. 

I like pants that I can always do up and that don’t leave little red marks on my tummy when I take them off at night.

Pants that feel like they are celebrating my body rather than squeezing it. Pants that aren’t stiff and unforgiving. 

Jeans were created as work gear. For me, sashaying around the city deserves a lighter touch. 

Don’t get me wrong. If you love your jeans… go for it! But if you only wear them because you feel you should - that fashion demands it - just stop. Find pants that bring you joy!

Feature image: Supplied.