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Trying to get the ‘skinny’ on ever-changing jeans choices

By Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

J. Crew’s new denim collection is really annoying. It took me a long time to accept Skinny as a pants style. But the J. Crew people have added Matchstick and Toothpick to the collection. What’s next … Dental Floss?

They advertise the Toothpick cut as “Our skinniest style and the pair we’re most likely to tear our closet apart looking for.” I’m sure. Because you can’t see them. In a closet full of regular size clothes, it’s the needle in the haystack. Hung sideways on a hanger, they completely disappear.

And when did marketing trade in fashion for fat grams? It’s not milk. If you’re going to label our clothes Skinny, Matchstick, Toothpick and Floss, you might as well use Whole, Reduced Fat, Low Fat and Skim. At least then I have options.

They also have the Boyfriend style … oh sorry, J. Crew calls it the Broken-In Boyfriend style. I guess that’s the jean that the Low Fat girls tried to pull on and then stretched and ripped into their present shape. I guess then you just cut them into shorts and call them the Napkin.

That’s what I like about Ann Taylor. Their styles are named after women. The Zoe, Marissa and Julie. Zoe’s waist and hips are the same size, Marissa’s hips are proportionate to her waist, and Julie has a small waist with curvy hips. Or is it Zoe who has the curvy hips and Marissa who has the same waist and hip size? Doesn’t matter. It’s not our business.

Nor is it our so-called broken-in boyfriend’s business. Because if he’s really broken in, he won’t care if the label in our jeans says Matchstick or Marissa. But for the sake of argument, I think Marissa helps maintain the mystery …

The Gap, however, is not interested in breaking it in, but rather breaking it down. Their styles are precise with no wiggle room: The Real Straight, Curvy, Sexy Boot, Always Skinny, Long & Lean, Perfect Boot, Curvy Boot, Curvy Skinny and Sexy Boyfriend.

I’d take Always Skinny and Sexy Boyfriend all day long. But I know life doesn’t work like that. And trust me – Zoe, Marissa and Julie don’t play that. If you’ve got them in your closet, Always Skinny doesn’t stand a chance. Why do you think people can’t find Toothpick?

So imagine my delight when I walk into Ann Taylor Loft and see the new Relaxed Skinny jean. Yes, by all means, let us please relax on all this skinny! I’m sure it’s code for standard or regular or human. But it allows us to keep the narrow-minded title of Skinny, which any of us who’ve ever had a baby or eaten a Frito, is just not.

And the best part? I can see them. My Relaxed Skinny jeans and the Fritos, I’ll always be able to find.

tcurtis@charlotteobserver.com
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