A-Z of Bad Style: A is for Applebottoms
…Or any brand of jeans really, but I’d already decided I wanted to talk about something else for J so I had to improvise. We don’t even really have Applebottoms here in the UK; I only know about them because of that Flo Rida song that was massive a few years ago:
Shawty had Applebottom jeans, boots with the fur,
The whole club was looking at her.
Why was everyone looking at Shawty, you ask? Probably because she was wearing UGG BOOTS and JEANS to a club. I wouldn’t even wear that to the funeral of someone I didn’t like. She probably looked like a right bender. Either that or we’ve all got it totally wrong; blokes actually don’t like it when girls wear tight-fitting dresses so short their vulva is practically hanging out, what they really like is slippers and cheap-ass denim. By most people’s standards that’s pretty scruffy dressing even for pegging it to Tesco in an emergency tampon situation, let alone the kind of nightclub frequented by moderately successful rap stars.
I digress. This week’s theme is jeans, oft-cited as the ultimate wardrobe essential, the classic style staple of almost everyone, regardless of gender, age or social standing. Everyone has a pair, even priests. Even teachers, which was always a bit of a mindfuck. I don’t think I ever got over the shock of seeing our revered headteacher, Mr Rosen (popularly known as the Goblin King because of his tiny stature and pointed ears), rocking up in a pair of 501s every mufti day.
Now, blokes have it easier because as far as I can tell there are only two kinds of jeans for men: ‘normal’, which are, you know, just normal, and ‘fucking stupid’, which I think are also known as ‘drop crotch’. Beloved by JLS and almost nobody else, drop crotch devotees presumably buy these jeans under the (incorrect) impression that trousers with the crotch hanging two feet below the waist will make their junk look so epically proportioned they have to buy specially-fitting trousers to accommodate it. In reality, these denim hammer-pants just make their advocates look like they’re taking style tips from Wenlock and/or Mandeville, the tiny-legged, terrifyingly phallic and permanently enraged London 2012 Olympic mascots.
(Edit: A chap on Twitter reminded me that I totally missed off dudes wearing skinny jeans. How could I forget!? Admittedly there is a certain type of guy who looks great in them, but I’m positive that we’re going to see a serious dip in the birth rate within a decade or two because of all the young men who’ve inadvertently savaged their balls wearing girls’ jeans. It can’t be good for them. I sort of imagine it to be like wrapping some squishy, uncooked sausage meat in cling film, jamming it into a very tiny box and then leaving it in direct sunlight to go all sweaty and misshapen and ming.)
So guys have it pretty good: if you want to look normal go for a regular fit, and if you want to look like a jacked-up stoat then go for the drop-crotch (and if you’ve got the arse – or lack thereof – for it, wear drainpipes). Easy. Girls, on the other hand, have an infinite galaxy of denim options to choose from, which makes shopping for jeans an arduous and harrowing ordeal. It can take weeks. There is definitely such thing as too much choice, and trying to find the perfect pair is as infuriating and time-consuming as finding a pair of school shoes was when you were ten. Gap currently does thirteen cuts of jeans (including jeggings, which are so unwaveringly nasty it should be an offence to wear them), Ralph Lauren offers eleven. Levis tried to simplify things by introducing ‘CurveID’ to categorise their products, but on closer inspection it’s just a way of categorising jeans according to how much room there is in the seat. The options are ‘Slight Curve’, ‘Demi Curve’ and ‘Bold Curve’. For the particularly voluptuous there is also a limited range called ‘Supreme Curve’. Predictably, all jeans are modelled by industry standard-sized models, which rather nullifies the point (and even complicates the issue even more).
Even when you’ve worked out where you fit in the Levi Strauss Grand Spectrum of Arse, you still have many, many different cuts to choose from: bootcut, straight, flared, vintage-flare, slim, skinny, super-skinny, high-waisted, cropped, jegging (vom) and boyfriend fit (also known to our transatlantic friends as ‘mom’ jeans). Once you’ve decided on a cut, you’ve then got to select from a rainbow of washes, some with extra details like distressing or whiskers (those faded horizontal stripes, typically on the thigh). If you are buying ‘fashion’ jeans from a store like TopShop or River Island, you will also have to sift through the choices in order to find a style that doesn’t have the brand’s logo emblazoned all over the arse in diamanté and sparkly thread. (Unless you like that sort of thing, I guess, although if a massive sequinned River Island logo is what you look for in a pair of jeans then you probably shouldn’t be responsible for buying your own clothes.) Either way, it’s a jungle out there.
Of course, I understand what retailers are trying to do. They are trying to make jeans that fit everyone’s bodies and tastes, an impossible task. In general, girls tend to be much more body-conscious than boys and more susceptible to trends. Our bodies are also more varied; the parameters between leg length and the sizes of calves, thighs, hips and waists are much more flexible, and the value of these variables have less of a correlation to one another than those of boys. By this I mean that a bloke with a smaller waist is more likely to be skinny all the way down (and vice versa), whereas girls can have slim legs but a big arse, or narrow hips but large thighs, or any one of the other, limitless combinations. Obviously there is not much I can do about this, so instead here are the best ways to tackle the problem:
1. Wait for someone to invent a program where you enter your actual measurements (yes, the real ones where you use a tape measure, not the ‘vanity size’ ones invented by unscrupulous retailers) to find the exact brand, style and size of jeans you should go for.
2. If you can’t wait, your only option is to attack jeans shopping with uncompromising efficiency and gusto. Sack off all your other appointments and social engagements and dedicate a whole day to schlepping around the local shops with your most reliable, tireless and brutally honest friend. Make a hit list before you go and plan your route, then get your trusty
bitch friend to take photos and make notes on every half-decent pair you try on. Don’t let yourself get distracted and be ruthless when they start to flag (I recommend investing in a small, non-debilitating tazer in case they try and make a break for it). At the end, with sore feet and faces streaky with mascara from the hot tears of frustration you’ll inevitably shed, sit down and assess your choices. Go back and purchase the best pair. Buy two.
If absolutely nothing was good for you then you need to go back and start again. Rinse and repeat tomorrow, or go to option three.
3. Admit defeat and buy a skirt instead.