A sea change is occurring. I’m not talking about the kids going back to school, although you may have noticed the tides turning while shopping for the young ones. You may be long past graduation but, today, you’re getting a lesson in fashion.
The thesis is simple but a revelation to any female who’s recently struggled while shopping for a pair of jeans: the tyranny of skinny jeans is over. The tourniquet-tight silhouette has dominated for about a decade but finally, this fall, our legs will be able to breathe easy once again.
It took about 10 years — an absolute eon in the fashion world — for skinny’s reign of terror to come to an end. And, while skinny’s not been banished completely, style-savvy shoppers now at least have a new option.
Admittedly, skinny jeans are great for showing off footwear and flowing tunics. But they often left little to be desired in the confidence department. For those of us with quads and calves that won’t quit, they were a challenge to even pull on, let alone feel comfortable in once donned. When they debuted about a decade ago, the style’s “stumpifying” effect on legs was shocking; the all-over tightness, emotionally — and often physically — uncomfortable.
But the eye and the heart adjust as they always do. As a trend spreads, fit and selection improve. Designers perfect proportions, and tops loosen to counteract the constriction. And eventually, the mind surrenders, realizing that the only style of pants available to the sartorially inclined woman is skinny.
But the mind is also fickle, possibly as fickle as fashion itself. Clothing may wear out and require replacement, but the bulk of clothing purchases are based on desire (just ask those kids who sweltered in their new fall duds yesterday). Most women’s closets have reached the tipping point of skinny pants; how else can one explain the surfeit of lovely dresses seen and worn this summer?
Skinny jeans were a revolution in the fashion world. Other than heavy metal groupies in the ’80s and possibly the punks of the ’70s, the style was new to the eye. But fashion doesn’t often dictate an entirely novel aesthetic, so it is little surprise that in the stampede to replace skinny, those of us of a certain age will be familiar with what is being sold as “new.”
Question time: if fashion is reaction, what is the opposite of the skinny look?
Answer: bell bottoms, now known as flares.
This is the second time I’ve seen flares, traditionally known as bell bottoms, become trendy in my relatively short life. But my low-rise dungarees from the early 2000s won’t do. Now, the look is distinctly from the 1970s, with a high, defined waist — all the better for showing off a cropped top (last seen in the mid-’90s, if you’re keeping track).
And now, a bit of a math lesson, or possibly art… a study in proportion, at least. Women who were most anxious about skinny jeans will likely welcome the flared silhouette. The waist will go back on display, and flares are designed to wear heels underneath, lengthening legs.
Your final lesson? Everything old eventually becomes new again in the fashion world. And we have about a decade to see what’s new next time around.
What does also surprise me is the surfeit of tomatoes at this time of year. I’ve been overwhelmed with them and, in keeping with the logic that they are best stored on the counter, they must be used quickly.
Here’s one of my own creations to make the most of tomato season.
1 sheet butter puff pastry, thawed but cold
3 cups tomatoes (preferably heirloom)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Italian herbs
Salt and pepper
¼ cup feta or chevre, crumbled
Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll pastry sheet, and use its parchment paper to line a cookie sheet, then place pastry on top.
Line another cookie sheet with paper towels, and thinly slice tomatoes. Place slices on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper; set aside.
In a very small saucepan, warm garlic, honey, olive oil, vinegar, herbs and a dash of salt and pepper over medium-low heat until combined, then allow to simmer and reduce slightly. Remove from heat. With a pastry brush, brush a small amount over surface of pastry, leaving a two-inch border. Layer all ingredients, minding the border, until all ingredients are used.
Pull pastry border up over edge of tomato mixture, pleating as you pull. Clean pastry brush and beat egg; coat any visible pastry with egg.
Bake in centre of oven; begin checking at 20 minutes to ensure pastry is golden but not burned. Let stand for five minutes before serving. Serves six as a side.