Tuesday, June 7, 2016

No Holds Barred: It's all in the Jeans

My collection of SkinnyJeans™
By Blair Sabol

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the entire denim explosion – I just can’t wear jeans. Never could. Never would. But that’s like saying you don’t speak English. And at times, I wonder about that.

So, no question, the denim fashion explosion is everywhere; denim stilettos, denim nail gels, denim tuxedos, and denim doggie collars — from faded to dark indigo. We are “awash” in all sorts of “denim-wash” fabric. And stylistically ... who can keep up? You have culottes, boot cut, straight leg, flare, crop, chop, boyfriend, trouser, high cut, low cut, “no cut.” We’ve come a long way from our Calvins or Jordache or even Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. Isn’t it all designer jeans nowadays?
Except, lately, the fabrication has expanded to stretch and suddenly you have “jeggings” — which I believe is the worst trend of all contributing to the epidemic of the “muffin top” explosion — on absolutely everyone who wears them.

In the real old days – Levis, Wranglers and Lees were worn as alternative dressing. Roughhouse gear! I remember in the ‘60s and ‘70s we all went to the Gap (now “hurting” though still alive in jeans sales), or boutiques like Different Drummer and bought scratchy, ill-fitting, low wasted bell bottoms. That and a fringed vest got you into the Fillmore East on a Saturday Night. It was the uniform!
But now, we are LOST in a sea of too many looks and not enough real style.

I think the way you wear your jeans is all given away by your backside. I have followed more “bad asses” (both men and women) down a New York City street to know. The shape was too tight or too loose and many of them were $350 True Religion/Theory brands. Jeans are now a huge business. But the Instagrammed public has not been well served. Maybe our culture needs a jeans “therapist” or a personal denim “consultant/trainer.”
I have struggled for years on the pants front. Only Kate Hepburn could really wear trousers and make them look incredible (she would never have worn jeans, thank God). Then, ten years ago, I got into yoga pants, and that was my savior. But even yoga pants (and now there are horrific “yoga jeans”...) have the same problem of cutting it all “too close” in the crotch area which created the awful telltale issue of “camel toe.” So now women have to cover up their waist and crotch with ill-fitting tunic tops and that adds to the slovenliness.
A year ago, I decided I had to find “my own” pair of jeans. But what a Jeans Journey to Hell that became. I went to Nordstrom and spent two hours trying on every brand, even the popular NYDJ (Not Your Daughters Jeans). I liked the name and they had an array of every cut and color. None of them fit. They were all hurtful to my waist, hips, and thighs. I lost all feeling in my belly. I was told that Oprah loves NYDJ — for the light stretch. But I also know that Oprah doesn’t leave home without her full body Spanx.

I quickly learned that nobody can really wear straight-legged jeans. Even if you are 12 years old. Everybody’s thighs look Herculean. Only Ken Downing, the creative director of Neiman Marcus, can wear skintight jeans. He told me that “I only wear Yves St. Laurent and I don’t eat for a week!” But a narrow boot cut is more forgiving and a better scale for everyone. “Crop” is tricky, because who really has great ankles (Hillary could never do it with her famous “cankles” — therefore she sticks to wide-leg styles) and no one looks good in that Pee Wee Herman “shrunken” pant look.
Neiman Marcus Creative Director Ken Downing presenting at a Store event in his skinny jeans.
Ken Downing modeling his Yves St. Laurent skinny jeans backstage and onstage at Neiman Marcus Fashion Show.
AG Jeans are now popular and pricey ($250) with their “sloucher” styles — though it can border on “mommy jeans” with the high elastic-looking waist (which can still give you a “covered” muffin top) and bigger leg. They call it a more “vintage style.”

But what isn’t “vintage” nowadays? I saw Robert Redford wearing ripped-knee jeans and I was horrified for him. What is an 80-year-old icon doing in “distressed” threadbare pants? He may be “vintage” himself, but why complicate the situation? Thank God he wasn’t wearing the latest paint splattered or floral appliqued versions!
Not torn, but a little too worn and baggy.
I also learned that jeans can be rough and heavy or light and thin. You can have them “worn” or “retro” or frayed-hem, “booty-enhancing” or “Slim Jim” with no pockets.

Are you beginning to see the insanity of this whole jeans dilemma?

Catherine Hart, founder and designer of SkinnyJeans, modeling her DayWash Boot-cut jeans.
Enter Catherine Hart, the founder and designer of SkinnyJeans™ (that really is the name of her brand, hence the trademark). Her personal story is as complex and unique as her product.

Twenty years ago, she was a successful business lawyer in LA and was consumed with how to look good in a courtroom. She eventually moved to New York and became a “recovering lawyer,” consumed with the problem of re-designing “Designer Jeans,” and perhaps even a decent bra. She gave up on the bra idea, but was obsessed with better fitting jeans.

“I kept looking at myself in the mirror in jeans, and all I saw was bad fabrication. My thighs looked like stumps and my hips looked huge.” Catherine is a gorgeously well preserved 6 foot blonde. “Having zero experience in the fashion world in 2003, I felt I was onto something with the concept of a 'slimming denim' — I felt I could arrange the fabric, wash, pattern and fit to get the best results.”

She got the name SkinnyJeans™ from a line in Sex in the City. “Miranda only wanted to wear jeans that make her look skinny and she had a pair that she called 'my skinny jeans.’” Catherine immediately registered the domain name (www.skinnyjeans.com) and the trademark.
Miranda showing off her skinny jeans.
She was off and running doing all her own investigation with “girdling denim” (the old way of saying “stretch denim” — not jeggings!!) She visited a ton of mills in the US to get the right fabrication. She had zero money or contacts. Eventually, she landed on her particular style of boot-cut skinny jeans, and straight-cut. But her real talent was in the “photoshopping” of her washes to visually create that longer leaner leg. It is a complicated process, but once you try them on, you’ll understand, and believe.

Me in my “Beach Wash” SkinnyJeans.
“I re-sized the back pocket to give a perkier butt, I have a front belly panel to hold you in and not cut you at the waist — no stomach pooch spillage.” This is a Goldilocks and the Three Bears process — not too high, not too low. Hart performed a feat of engineering on the jeans concept.

Hart changed the actual jeans “real-estate” (fit in the front) by moving inseams and outseams closer, and “tricking up” the washes to look distressed in all the right places. Now her “Slimming Wash Pattern” is copyrighted and worn by everyone from Oprah (minus the Spanx) to Kathy Lee and Hoda, to Tyra Banks. In Style, Shape and Lucky have hailed her as the great jeans re-inventor.

I originally found her modeling and selling her SkinnyJeans™ on QVC at midnight. I phoned in an order and figured it would be another horrific trial and error. Her “Beach Wash” boot-cut arrived and I wore them for 4 days straight (I almost did yoga in them — but they are NOT leggings.) No waist buckling, no ripples along the back of my thighs or ass, no knee bunching and I didn’t feel like I was asphyxiating myself in a body-shaper. Yet my legs did look longer and leaner. It was alchemy!!

I finally met Catherine Hart for a drink in New York last April and she gave me her whole Jeans 101 “master-class” at my hotel bar. After she left — three women came up to me (they had overheard and saw us in her boot-cuts) and wanted to know where they could get them I suddenly realized — finding the right pair of jeans is like scoring in a drug deal!
Catherine giving a master class on SkinnyJeans on QVC.
No muffin top and no pooch!
Knee bends? Not a problem!
After we met, I went on her website and ordered more in her “Game Day Colors.” She coordinated the exact colors of every college and pro sports team to her straight or boot-cut style. Game day is a more perfect jean because the fabric is ultra soft, comfortable, and easy. By the way, her entire line is for men and women and range from $99 to $188 depending on style.
Catherine's Game Day Colors.
People are shocked I finally found “My Jeans.” I don’t care about the “photoshopping” or the “sanding” — all I know is the fabric is light, it fits, I can bend over without “plumber ass-crack” showing, no muffin-top and NO camel toe. I say Catherine Hart got me through the jeans trauma and drama.

She might just be a genius — but for sure she is the “genie” of the jeans explosion.

God Bless Her!
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