07 August 2007

How to rock a pair of colored skinnies

tell me what you think about the colored skinny jeans for fall. i think you mentioned you bought a red pair? what will you wear with them? what kind of shirts does one wear with brightly colored skinny jeans? and will you wear them with heels? as a very short, in shape but not stick thin, girl i just had the courage to buy my first pair of skinnies, but they're in gunmetal grey. i wonder if the bright colors would not work on my short curvy size. oh, and i live in NY so it's a little easier to get away with things here.

Before I make any recommendations, I think it's important for everyone interested in investing in a pair of brightly colored skinny jeans to understand two immutable facts, the first of which is that no matter what you do up-top, this look will never be anything more formal than what I like to call, "edgy casual." Sure, there are gradations within this category, with a retro t-shirt and flats on one end of the spectrum, a classy-sexy blouse and stilettos on the other and Rachel Bilson's fringed-boot and transition-tee look (above, right) falling somewhere in the middle, but unless you work in a trendy hair salon, a bar, a contemporary clothing boutique or a very liberally-run Manhattan PR firm, you must come to terms with the fact that your skinny jeans, if red, blue, green, purple, teal, yellow, or even typically pedestrian white, will never grace your place of work during business hours.

The second point is the more contentious of the two and involves my oft-encouraged notion of honest body self-evaluation.

Dark trousers, whether they be wool, linen, corduroy or denim are everybody's best friend for the simple reason that they encumber both you and outsiders from being able to view below-the-belt imperfections. Cellulite? Paunch? Lumpy bum? No problem, just slip on the black pants or dark wash jeans and problem (relatively) solved.

Brightly colored skinny jeans are an entirely different story. By definition, the skinny style is meant to be tight -- not fitted, not sorta-snug, but tight. When you add in the dimension of shocking color, the tightness requirement leaps up a notch to painted-on tight. If left even a bit baggy, the hip look for which you were aiming falls squarely into "Is she wearing tapered jeans?" territory, which is every stylish young woman's Mom-jeans nightmare.

So, to the reader who in yesterday's "your-legs-aren't-that-good"-free-for-all left the above comment/question, if you're curvy in a Penelope Cruz kind of way, then yes, I'd say go for it all the way. If, however, you find yourself choosing skirts, shorts and pants based on how well they minimize the size of your thighs or bottom, I would step away from the colored skinny denim altogether. A person who wears bright purple or (ahem) bright red jeans is a person who invites reactions, and if you aren't completely confident in how you look in what are essentially a pair of super-tight leggings, then there's no need to indulge in this trend.

And now, onto the recommendations.

If your super-skinnies are bright, clearly, the best way to achieve a polished look is to temper the tightness and attention-grabbing color with waistline-blousey silhouettes in neutrals like these in nude, navy, black, white, black and white, muted metallic, ivory and grey. Or, as I have done in recent weeks, pair your denim with a neutral cowl-neck tunic and cinch it loosely with an understated wide belt. With a more casual, urban ensemble like Fergie's (above, middle), you can add other dashes of complementary color (I wouldn't recommend too much of this, but to each their own), but if you're goal is upmarket chic, I suggest the former.

As for shoes, anything goes. Well, not flip-flops, wedges or espadrilles, but only because I personally think they're unpleasant to look at. When I wear my red Rich & Skinnys, I gravitate toward sky-high and simple, both in style and color, but boots, pumps, sandals, flats, slim trainers -- they all have the potential to work well.

I'm usually loath to use the "confidence is your best accessory!" chestnut, but in this case, with jeans this bright and this tight, I will endorse that sentiment but with a slight amendment:

When wearing colored skinny jeans, confidence in how tight your ass is and how killer your legs look is not just your best but most necessary accessory.


knew you as hannie, too said...

I would SO love to get a pair of the yellow ones, but I 100% agree with your advice on making sure your body can "take" them. Mine, in its current state, can't, so I'll just put that $176 toward something more figure flattering.

Anonymous said...


If your legs have to be concealed at any juncture, then I guess there is no better sheath than a pair of skin-tight jeans. What a siren you would be clad in red!!

Fondly, a distant (very distant) admirer ;-)

Anonymous said...

Fat, thin, tall, short, I think everyone should just wear what they want. And to be honest, I think you should shut up with all your self-righteous "shouldn'ts" and "can'ts". You have some nerve (and ego) to think you're the be all end all in telling women what to wear.

At the end of the day, you're some "analyst" hack behind a desk, not a supermodel. Get over yourself.

Maxie said...

Whatever, anonymous 3:46. Obviously Johanna is not BANNING people from wearing things-- it's just a suggestion-- it's the point of the whole blog. The reader who asked this question wanted to know her opinion, and she's just giving it. The truth is some people look better when they avoid things that are tight/wrong cut/too short...whatever.

I just don't understand what's up with all the haters commenting on this blog lately. Why the hell do they even read it if they hate it so much. They need to get a freakin' hobby, or better yet, a life.

Anonymous said...

From one commentator to another: who gives a fuck about the fat and the short!

Darwin's theory ultimately concludes that their respective gene pools will flounder in the aisles of Dress Barn!

Instead of engaging in ad hominem attacks, provoked by this young, emerging writer's unalloyed advocacy of contemporary women's fashion and aesthetics, why not better use the time to nibble on, and find consolation in, another large box of baked goods from Dunkin' Donuts!

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:46--Yep, nothing's more annoying than someone telling you what to do, right? Like, say, telling what you should and shouldn't write on your own blog.

If you want "every outfit I see looks great!" go read every other fashion blog in this city.

dara said...

Anonymous 4:09 hit the nail on the head. I may not agree with all of Johanna's critiques (most but not all), but I at least respect that she takes a side and defends it. All the other DC fashion blogs fawn or stay neutral. I keep reading ASJINE because I like reading J's breakdowns and analyses of the good, bad and worse. There's nothing else out there like it. Not in DC anyway.

brown rowergirl said...

I know I shouldn't, but I am laughing with guilty pleasure at anonymous 4:07's comment...

Anonymous said...

Originality always makes one enemies. But it's more fun.

Oscar Wilde said it best: "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."

bff in chicago said...

If there was ever a girl who loved herself, it was our Johanna.

On anyone else, I couldn't stand it, but on you, well, I couldn't stand not to see it.

Mwah, babe.

Johanna said...

Well, golly-gee, look at all the commotion going on here!


I love you to bits, but I think that is the right choice, especially given that yellow - aside from white - is the least forgiving color of skinny denim out there.

Anon 3:40-

"Distant (very distant) admirer," eh? Correct me if I'm wrong, but K St. isn't *that* far, is it? Tee-hee :-)

Anon 3:46-

Whoah, whoah, whoah. I'm not sure if I've ever proffered a single "can't" during my ASJiNE tenure, but even if I have, like Maxie says in my defense (thanks, sweetie), I'm not the one zipping you up and pushing you out the door in the morning. That's all on you. Sure, I have pretty rigid views on what body types should and shouldn't try to pull off certain silhouettes, but that advice is really only for those who care about looking as figure-flattering as possible. If you don't care, then you're right, go ahead and wear whatever you want!


Couldn't have said it better myself!

Anon 4:04-

Someone knows my humor well...but truth be told, I was eating half of half a DD blueberry cake donut as I read that. The irony!

Anon 3:46-

Excellent point! I want to see more opinion pieces, too.


I'm glad you appreciate my comprehensive breakdowns of Kim Kardashian's bustier-style rompers and the merits of throwing every last Croc into a trash heap out in the 'burbs. I don't write outlines for every post for nothin'!

Anon 4:59-

If that's true, I'm gonna have a long life filled with a hell of a lot of romance :-)

Mmmmmm, me...


And a big muwah back to you, "Miss Modesty."


manhattan_darling said...

The purple ones are to die for! And I agree with you, certain women should not wear certain clothes. It's just not pleasant for anyone, wearer included.

Anonymous said...

Look at you with all your British-speak lately..."Mum" yesterday, "trainers" today -- what's next?

And who is serving as your inspiration?

sarahsouth said...

that was entertaining. i love when your entries rack up over a dozen comments

Anonymous said...

The beauty of clothing and makeup is that you can enhance your assets and hide your flaws. Women who master this ALWAYS look good. when people tell me that I don't have any trouble spots, I know that it's just because I know how to hide them!

so keep it up with the good advice. people don't have to accept it if they don't want to.