If you don't know what to wear tonight, there's one question that will help you get dressed.

Scrolling mindlessly through Instagram recently (as I am wont to do) I came across a reel that quickly grabbed my attention.

The video was posted with the following caption: 'when we have to sit in our standing jeans'.

The video scans over three young women sitting awkwardly at a restaurant table. They're pouting and holding their arms over their stomachs. They're stuck out stiff like cardboard cut-outs at 45-degree angles in their chairs. 

I had never ever heard the term 'standing jeans' before but it immediately made sense to me.

Every woman knows what standing jeans are. 

And every woman knows the extreme pain you have to endure when you're sitting down in those f**kers. 

Standing jeans are the jeans that are so tight, so blatantly too small for practical wear, that you only ever reach for them on your most optimistic (or masochistic) days. 

They're the ones you have to heave yourself into at the beginning of nights and the ones that leave a perfect indentation of a button fastening on your stomach by the time you get home.

They force you to ask yourself what activities you'll be involved in over the coming hours – and if 'sitting down to eat' (or sitting down for any reason, really) is on the agenda, well, you've been warned.

They are, simply put, completely evil. 


When I came across that Instagram video, all I could do was marvel at the fact that in 2023, despite how far we may have come in so many other ways, and the respect that I have for Gen Z's political and social awareness, here we are still. All sitting with our legs splayed and zippers riding up ferociously into our labia for the sake of fashion. 

Standing jeans must be stopped. 


I have to accept my own part in the standing jeans phenomena – as somebody who worked in denim retail for years before entering media, it was my job to tell women to buy pants down two sizes. 

It was my genuine belief and training that the jeans you need to yank together to close with a clothes hanger through the buttonhole are, in fact, the correct size. And I would disseminate this lie with customers for years, reassuring women who were red in the face and walking around my store like cowboys that it would all be worth it – 'in two weeks' time, they're going to fit like a glove.' 

I bought into the myth myself. I would take home pairs of jeans from work and lie around in them for hours, even occasionally sleep in them to stretch out the cotton. Quite besides from becoming a petri dish for thrush, it simply never occurred to me the way that I was buying into the denim oppression. 

I remember taking a pair of skinny black jeans out for a first dinner at around 23 years old and finding myself struggling to breathe, like a Victorian woman being slowly strangled by a corset. 

In retrospect, I don't know why I put myself (and others) through this at all.

And I don't know why we continue to accept this nightmare. 

Buying jeans is one of the most hellish things we subject ourselves to. When female friends say out loud that they're going jeans shopping, everybody around them will give a knowing, saddened nod at what they're about to experience. 


Telling your friends you're going to buy new pants is like telling them you've been conscripted and you're going to war. 

Maybe it's time to reconsider all of this. 

Part of the standing jeans phenomenon must be, at least in part (and I know this is true from my own wardrobe), due to an inability to accept that sometimes we just need to buy a few sizes up from where we initially thought. We've been taught routinely by fatphobic messaging that this is – and should remain – an extreme source of shame for women. 

It's the same reason we keep pairs of jeans in our closets for years and years, believing that we're going to "reclaim" younger, smaller versions of ourselves, as though the bodies we're currently occupying are in some way failing us because they no longer fit into skinny jeans from 2015. 

But it's not just that. I've also come to believe that most jeans are actually just poorly designed and don't fit women's bodies particularly well, either. The ass and waist are very rarely accommodated for in harmony with jeans and we come too easily to believe that this is the fault of our bodies when in fact, it is largely the fault of trousers manufacturers everywhere. 

The proposed solution to the 'standing jean' is, logically, the 'sitting jean'. The jeans you put on that you can comfortably sit in on first wear – the sort of pair that you would feel comfortable, say, eating a full pasta meal in.


This is all well and good, but I think the concept of the sitting jeans has almost come too late – and the term still implies that the standing jeans have a legitimate place in our lives, when I don't think they do.

At 30 years old now, I no longer even bother recommending denim brands to friends because I don't want them to live with discomfort and regret. I imagine sitting all day at my desk in jeans and it makes me sick to my stomach. The last time I accidentally wore standing jeans to the office, I found myself having to pee upwards of 15 times in the one day because of the trauma the whole ordeal caused my bladder. 

No more. 

I will live and die by the high-waisted wide-leg trouser now. Jeans are a con. I'm done and I recommend that everybody else gives up on the idea, too. We must all liberate ourselves – if not from all jeans then at least, Jesus Christ, from the ones that mean we can't sit in chairs normally. 

Elfy Scott is an executive editor at Mamamia. 

Feature image: TikTok/@females/Instagram/@girls

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