When we think about the 1980s, we immediately remember the worst, most over the top, painful looks that were donned. News that this year's trends are harkening back to that decade might send some people directly to Burkas-R-Us, but now is the time to forget all the stiff, teased insanity of '80s looks and remember what was good.
Imagine having the wisdom that you attain in your 40s and the fabulous skin and "bod" you had in your 20s, and you'll understand what's hot for spring and summer denim this year.
Buyers from Memphis' superior selection of specialty shops have recently returned from markets with the best that designers have to offer, and they say we can expect higher rises, skinny and wide-leg options, and a range of washes from subdued tones to a mix of very vibrant colors.
Your belly button may have to have to wait until bikini season to unveil itself, as designers are moving away from midriff-baring waistlines to jeans with a higher rise. Stores that cater to a missy clientele (in between junior's and women's sizes), like Muse, on South Main, where the David Kahn brand is a staple, are welcoming this trend. Lynda Thompson of Oak Hall, on Poplar at Shady Grove, says missy customers might also like the denim available from Indigo Palms and Cambio.
However, young hipsters may be reluctant to raise their rises, and Memphis stores will continue to sell the lower waistlines. "We will have the higher rises available for that fashion-savvy customer in some fashion pieces such as skirts or trousers and a wide-leg jean, but tweens will probably not be wearing it," explains Amanda Adams of Sachi, in the Laurelwood Collection.
Whether you like to wear them with a simple flat (as Lisa Doss of Muse recommends) or a stiletto (the preference of Tadd Feazell of Lux, in Cooper-Young), skinny jeans will maintain their popularity this spring and summer. They will, however, have some competition from wider "trouser" legs that are available from numerous denim designers. "The wide-leg jean is possibly the biggest shift for spring denim," Sachi's Adams says. "We are very excited about getting in our Level 99 wide-leg jean, which has already been featured in Lucky magazine and in People's StyleWatch. It is very flattering and a good alternative to the skinny leg hanging in everyone's closet right now."
Regardless of the shape that suits you, there's sure to be a denim color to fit your every mood. You'll find clean beach looks like Citizens of Humanity's Nautical White and Blue Hawaii denim available in a variety of wide legs, bootcuts, flares, shorts, and miniskirts, but you'll also see utilitarian grays and charcoals. Diesel's "White Striped Workers" wash is meant to evoke both ruggedness and sensuality; if the denim doesn't convey that enough on its own, here's the characterization of the wash on the Diesel Web site: "Long days working in a hard, ascetic land often provoke nocturnal escapades in order to fulfill some fantasy or another ... ."
If these subtle tones seem a bit washed out for your taste, an array of colorful denim is also on the horizon for this summer. Kyra Condo of Isabella, in Laurelwood, is particularly excited about their offering of the freshly launched Rich and Skinny label founded by denim gurus Michael Glasser (Seven, Citizens) and Joie Rucker (Joie). The beautiful hues of these skinny jeans should come with complimentary sunglasses. Their playful names will make you want one in every color, from Motley Blue to Dexatrim Pink.
The one word everyone seems to be using to describe this season's denim is "clean." The flash and sparkle of embellishments have been replaced by emphasis on fit and wash. For women who want "just a little something different," Bonnie Renschler of Oak Hall likes 1921's option with a contrast whip stitch and a surplus back pocket. The surplus back pocket, she explains, "was started by True Religion and then picked up by Hudson and now 1921. Although a lot of women [might] think this pocket will make them look bigger in their derriere region, it is actually a slimming feature."
In a continuation of denim's playful and pretty side, fashion magazines have been lauding the updated overalls and rompers many designers have available. Although these might be more appropriate for someone in their 20s or younger, it is a look that embodies the carefree nature of spring and summer, and, when paired with the right accessories, is more Elle than Elly May.
In addition to the general appearance and style of denim, designers are also providing more options for the materials and processes that go into making a pair of jeans. Will Levy of Oak Hall explains that linen blend and twill jeans are a great choice for summer and notes that Diesel's cotton/linen-blend option is particularly good. Furthermore, if you're a jeans guy who needs to own a pair of khakis, Levy says Mason's khakis will be the most pleasing.
Jeans with a philosophy are also a big sell these days. Nudie jeans are sold in dark, unwashed form, and, as you wear them, you "create your own whiskering," Levy says. Nudie suggests waiting six months before washing so that these jeans can be "formed by you into a second skin -- personal and naked." Nudie, like other eco-conscious designers, is also making headway with organic denim that is made with less water and harmful chemicals and in factories where workers receive fair wages and decent working conditions.
Variety is the name of the denim game this spring, and the numerous options available certainly correspond to how Lux's Feazell describes the fashions he saw at the markets he recently attended in New York and Las Vegas: Current fashion is "free of mimics" and allows "everybody to be an individual."