Leave the Leggings for Levi’s: Finding the Perfect Fit

Forever in blue jeans? Not so much.

I don’t like jeans.

Call me unpatriotic, but when Levi Strauss invented the blue jean, I don’t think comfort was at the front of his mind. Being a history concentrator, I’m going to bring some historical perspective into this. When Straus conceived of his good old Levi’s during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, his reasons were purely practical: to provide sturdy protection for the legs of gold miners. These days, the closest contact with gold I have is the sprinkling of edible gold leaf on my chocolate molten cake from Finale. So I wonder: with pencil, not dirt pick, in hand, are jeans a relic of the past?

A bold assertion, followed by a question, that raises doubts about my sanity, I realize. But allow me to qualify my statement. I like boyfriend jeans. I like your boyfriend’s jeans. But I don’t like these-are-so-tight-that-I-can’t-breathe-let-alone-move jeans. And trust me, I have more than my own fair share.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m still bitter about a past jeans-related incident when, as a happy little kindergartner skipping around in elastic waist banded leggings, I snuck into my older sister’s room to try on her new pair of super-slim-fit jeans from the Gap. Long story short, the jeans didn’t fit. An unfortunate combination of baby fat and stiff denim left me sulking in my stretchy spandex.

Fifteen years later, I’m still wearing leggings. In fact, in my rebellious refusal to wear jeans at all last year, spandex became my second skin. It wasn’t too long before my obsession began spiraling to unhealthy extremes. When my friend came out wearing leggings and a long sweater last Halloween and proudly announced he had dressed up as me, I knew it was bad. When everyone immediately recognized the inspiration for his costume (or the subject of his mockery), I knew it was really bad. When I thought I had found the answer to life’s problems in a pair of leggings—leggings that looked like jeans, I had become delusional. My friends and family had to intervene, tugging the spandex from my grasping hands and threatening to burn them. I sat crumbled and defeated on the floor, wondering what I would do in a leggings-less life.

To my surprise, the possibilities were wide. So wide that I decided to ditch my skintight spandex and get lost in a pair of wide-leg pants. Wide-leg trousers offer the solution to all of my issues with skinny jeans: One, you can breathe; two, you can move. That’s all I really ask from a pair of pants.

Now, let me clarify that these aren’t the days of JNCOs—days when we pre-teen girls would do anything to have a drop of Backstreet Boy sweat fall on us at a concert, when we wore baggy jeans, belly-baring t-shirts, and had Tamogatchis hanging from our pockets. Wide-leg trousers have been walking down runways for years, but only recently have a sizeable number of ready-wear models been showing up in stores. When worn with a pair of heels, these pants offer an exaggerated, yet sophisticated silhouette. And hey, if you think in terms of price per yardage, you’re getting more for your money. In the current economic downturn, we—responsible consumers of flighty fashion trends—must look for ways to save.

Begrudgingly, I must admit that a good pair of jeans is the most flattering pant on any body type, which is why I am currently suffocating myself in a pair of skinny jeans. But since when has fashion changed from being a mode of expression to a mode of oppression?

—Staff writer Victoria D. Sung can be reached at