Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The pendulum swings . . .

Jess in the New Look

I think it was about three years ago that, during a phone conversation with Ian Katz, then the Guardian's features editor, he said to me: 'Black trousers are over.'

Now Mr Katz, since elevated to overall editor of the Saturday edition, while a truly great newspaper editor and the man who rang me up one day and asked me if I'd like to go over to Paris to 'bring back some brainy ruminations on the collections', with his Camper shoes and party shirt, is not the first person I'd turn to to fashion advice. And not the person from whom I'd welcome hearing the news that black trousers were over.

But no, he said, we have a piece from Jess going in. Jess Cartner-Morley is the Guardian's fashion editor and duly, a couple of days later, there it was. Black trousers are finished. How, dear readers, I scoffed. Because the absolute staple of every girl's wardrobe was a pair of perfectly fitting (ha!) black trousers. And one had no idea what one was going to wear instead.

Yet six months later, I realised I hadn't worn a pair of black trousers in months. Something in fashion had shifted and I was going along with it. So for that reason I tend to believe what Jess says. Volume (which she at first called 'poufy') - she announced the arrival of that. And so it went.

But now Jess tells us that black trousers are back.

Pay very careful attention:

This year, the dress is finally losing its hold over fashion. Next season's must-have is not a cocktail dress, but an evening blouse. And now is the time to find the trousers to wear it with.

The new-look trouser sits proudly high on the waist. The slightly slouchy, flat-fronted trouser of five years ago - which British women adored for its its ability to make even pear-shaped hips look boyishly slim - is nowhere to be seen. The new style is more determinedly feminine, with a waistband that is in nodding distance of your actual waist. Think 1977 rather than 1997.

If you haven't gone in for fashion-trousers for a while, the first trying-on session can be a little alarming. The style is lengthening to the leg and rather elegant, but decidedly unforgiving on the waist, hips and tummy. Comrades, do not panic. Wear a blouse or bold T-shirt that draws attention to your top half, rather than a plain vest or knit, so you won't feel quite so self-conscious. And cast your mind back to the first time you wore a pair of skinny jeans - if you managed to reconcile yourself to those in the end, these are going to be a breeze.

No, I didn't manage to . . .

And the time in my life for tucking-in, is over.


Anastasia said...

Explain again why I should not only buy but even wear a piece of garment that looks extremely unflattering on me and no matter what else I wear will draw attention to my "waist" and a belly Rubens would have loved but no one else does today, especially not fashion.

Anonymous said...

I love wearing trousers and never stopped. The right shape and style suit me really well - and that includes ones that sit on the waist, so I'm delighted I'll be able to find them in the shops again. They have more or less disappeared in the past few years. I also wear dresses sometimes but prefer trousers with different kinds of tops because of the different looks you can create. But surely the point is that we all like different things and suit different things and we should all be able to find what we want in the shops. As it is, fashion dictates what is available so there is always someone who struggles to find clothes they like and that look good on them.
I think the only things we all look terrible in (at least if you are over 25) are smocks! At least they seem to have had their day.

Deja Pseu said...

Black trousers are a constant staple in my wardrobe. The best ones I've found recently are Banana Republic "Jackson curvy" fit. The lightweight stretch wool can be dressed up or down, are quite comfortable and look polished. Being short-waisted, tucking-in was rarely a good look for me, and I gave up on it a few years ago.

Duchesse said...

'They' can decree something over, but women simply will not give it up, if it looks good on them, and black pants are the top of the list.

Leggings are a more exotic example. Exiled in the late 90's but now back, especially among young women.

Kelly said...

I never did reconcile myself with skinny jeans. The closest I ever got was slim-fit straight-leg, and the only time I ever actually purchased skinny jeans (actually, just a week ago), was because they fit me well in my hips and thighs. I bought them for the sole purpose of cutting them to knee length and wearing with wedges (I got many compliments on them yesterday, by the way. I'm fairly sure that I would have gotten none if I'd left them skinny).

So my point is: I don't have to reconcile myself with something that's going to pronounce my gut, either.

Greying Pixie said...

I'm afraid I cannot agree with Jess on her descriptions of the two styles of trousers. I have loathed the low slung look from beginning to end and cannot agree that it makes large hips look boyish. In my opinion it is the fastest way to discover love-handles you never had and to shorten the leg of even the most elegant bluebell girl! And don't tell me that high heels can resolve this - they just result in short legged girls walking badly, love handles and bottom dragging along behind.

I rejoice at the rise of the waistband. My Comme des Garcons pinstripe trousers I bought in 1998, high in the waist, elegantly tapered, beautifully designed to skim the hips, define the waist, featuring loops, buttons and tailoring details found on Grandad's bespoke pair - how much more boyish can you get.

Rachael King said...

This is what I hate about fashion writing. It tells you to get something (even if it doesn't suit you), then a few months later it tells you not to be seen dead in the very thing it told you was so chic.

I also hate the way fashion works on your sub-conscious. You wear the perfect pair of trousers for three years and they look fabulous, flattering etc, then one day you pick them up and they don't look good on you anymore. Nothing has changed except the fashion. Grrrr.