"Skinny jeans" on 40-year-old
June 30, 2007 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Do "skinny jeans" look silly on a 40+ year-old?

I realize I may have lost perspective so I am asking the advice of you fashion-conscious folks...

I am now 41, have kids and spend most of the time with them at the park, pool etc. I want to look nice, stylish, but not tacky or like I'm trying to be a teenager again. Are those "skinny jeans" okay for me? Should I concentrate more on dress pants and skirts and bouses than jeans and tee-shirts?

I have an okay figure, and I like the feeling of the spandexy pants but I do feel they're a little more suggestive than the jeans we wore ("back in the day...").

Thanks for your help!
posted by MiffyCLB to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Only where skinny jeans if you're skinny. That's the main rule. Otherwise, it's a case by case basis.
posted by milarepa at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

There are flare/wide-legged jeans that have that same spandex-y material but look good on ANYBODY--just look for the word "stretch" on the label.

As long as you're not wearing mom jeans, you'll look hip and cool by comparison.
posted by rhoticity at 7:06 PM on June 30, 2007

You may want to avoid the really tight, skinny jeans but a pair of quality, nice-fitting dark jeans is timeless. Don't confuse well-fitting with super-tight jeans.

Browse through the archives at The Sartorialist and you'll find tons of pics of men looking great in non-hipster jeans.
posted by junesix at 7:06 PM on June 30, 2007

My daughter, source of all fashion knowledge at my house, thinks I look good in skinny jeans, and I am a fair piece over 40 (not to mention 30 pounds overweight).
posted by nax at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2007

Yeah, you pretty much need to have skinny legs; more specifically, those with a large butt/hips/thighs are really done no favors with those pants. However, it really can't hurt to go try a few different styles on; I'd wear flats (I find those look best with skinny jeans), and a nice cardigan sweater set. Good luck!
posted by sarahsynonymous at 7:09 PM on June 30, 2007

No way. Dress the way you like it.

I am 40 and with kids and for what it is all worth I was wearing today skinny black jeans and a cool halter top, electric blue. Took the kids out to lunch. The outfit improved my crappy attitude immensely. And that is enough for me.

If you have ample hips, go for the longer tops.

Then again, I never care what they say.
posted by carmina at 7:09 PM on June 30, 2007

As a 40-something guy, I say they are fine on women "of a certain age," in general.

My detailed opinion: Anything that fits well is fine, if you have the figure. If they are obviously tight, then I think it starts to look like you are trying to be your own daughter. We tend to excuse indiscretions of the young. But at 40 it should look like you know better.

On the bigger picture, not just jeans: I appreciate a woman of my generation who wears modern clothing that suits her personality and can carry it off. If it's too trendy, then it looks too young.

For example, I probably dress younger than most guys my age, and it seems to suit me. BUT... if I went out and got this season's trendy hoodie with studs and skulls (or whatever), I would look ridiculous. Toning it back a bit can allow you to dress young without looking like you are trying to fool others or yourself.
posted by The Deej at 7:12 PM on June 30, 2007

If you are a size 8 or under, go for it.
posted by pieoverdone at 7:13 PM on June 30, 2007

Whoops, sorry about the gender mix-up. Skinny jeans - go for it!
posted by junesix at 7:13 PM on June 30, 2007

From watching Trini & Susannah on What Not To Wear on BBC, I learned to look for jeans that have more of a flared leg and sit slightly lower on my waist, that they are far more flattering for my figure and more age appropriate. A slightly flared leg (not talking bell bottoms here) will lengthen and flatter your legs & give you nice curves. Unless you're an 18 year old with a stick body, tapered or tight jeans (especially ones with short hems) often make people look stumpier and heavier, and they definitely don't elongate your body.

All I can say is that there is a HUGE difference in how much I wince when I see photos of myself in jeans before I learned that & since. I look much better now.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:19 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Skinny jeans will only look good if you're waif-thin and the rest of your outfit/hairstyle/etc. are stylish to match.

If you have skinny legs but are heavier on top, the jeans are only going to amplify the size of your upper body and you will look pretty bad. Wearing a longer top over big hips will have the same effect.
posted by puritycontrol at 7:20 PM on June 30, 2007

Here are visual examples of what I was trying to say:
These = Really comfortable & look hot. Can even look dressy.
These = Not so comfortable. Cut off circulation and possibly look better on Kate Moss.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm going to assume here you are female. :)
posted by bytemover at 7:38 PM on June 30, 2007

This is just my opinion, but I think "skinny jeans" look stupid on everyone, size 2, size 6, size 10, and anywhere in between or above.

Didn't tapered legs go out of a style for a reason? YES!

Don't be a victim to terrible trends. Get some nice tailored, trouser-style jeans, like those Miss Lynnster suggests except without all the whiskering/weathering.

This comment brought to you by the Coalition Against Tapered Pants.
posted by tastybrains at 7:47 PM on June 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

Thanks, what great help! Deej, thanks for the male perspective too. I think I'll look for the slightly tapered ones that sit lower - it seems like that shape would suit me. I guess I'll have to try on a few pair to get a feel for it but at least I am no longer concerned that being over 40 means ruling anything out :).
posted by MiffyCLB at 7:50 PM on June 30, 2007

Go for it. I developed a huge crush on a 40-something woman in skinny jeans just the other day!

I know that lady denim obsessives tend to rate A.P.C.'s skinny jeans highly, especially the 'New Cure' type, which are stretchy.
posted by jack_mo at 8:03 PM on June 30, 2007

I would suggest that context is everything here. If you're wearing skinny jeans along with other outfit accouterments that are typically teenager-ish, and your hair is teenager-ish, and your accessories are teenager-ish, you will look like a 40-something person trying to look like a teenager.

But if the jeans look good in context with your other things, and you have the figure for it, go for it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:13 PM on June 30, 2007

I'm sure they'll look great. Just be really, really skinny.
posted by battlecj at 8:37 PM on June 30, 2007

Peg-legged trousers looked silly in the 80s and they look silly today, in my opinion. Buy clothes that won't go out of style in six months. That doesn't mean you can't wear jeans! Just get a nice straight-legged pair.
posted by frobozz at 8:56 PM on June 30, 2007

You're welcome, Miffy. Just make sure you wear what you feel comfortable in, without tugging and pulling and adjusting. If you feel comfortable you will look comfortable. If you look and feel comfortable, you will feel confident. Confidence = sexy.
posted by The Deej at 8:57 PM on June 30, 2007

I'd say being 40 alone is not reason enough to nix the skinny jeans. Some 40 year olds these days look damn good. Just make sure they work for you (see other people's suggestions). To me the biggest mistake is wearing a skinny shirt with the skinny jeans -- you need a long, and preferably flowy (while still fitted) shirt. Which presents a bigger problem...when you buy the skinny jeans, you may find yourself tempted to buy a whole bunch of other things to go with the skinny jeans -- shoes, tops, etc. Just be prepared for that.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 8:58 PM on June 30, 2007

Skinny jeans look bad on anyone with a "pear shape"- 10, 16, 40 years old. Rule of tumb: The larger your rear, the wider your pant leg.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:22 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Skinny jeans are on their way out of style though..
the boyfriend cut or wide leg are coming back in.. probably easier to wear. I don't think age has anything to do with it - try on a lot of jeans and a lot of brands and see what looks good and feels like it suits you.

(for the super skinny and fashionable high waisted jeans would be the thing.. the right kind of vintage 80's pegged/high waist jeans are selling like mad on ebay right now, believe it or not!)
posted by citron at 10:11 PM on June 30, 2007

If you've got the body, by all means rock the skinny jean (although do note, those more in the know on this board are perhaps rightly warning that they are on their way out). I think there is a line between trendy/fashionable and violating age appropriate dressing rules, usually best solved by putting pieces of trendy stuff together with other, more age appropriate clothing, shoes and accessories. So maybe - skinny jeans sans the trapeze top and slouchy boots? Maybe pair them with a blazer/cardigan/button down and flats? There are options. And I commend you for thinking twice about this before moving forward. Having hit 30, I have started having similiar moments myself, most recently learning the hard way that no one over 5'4" or 150 should wear a baby doll dress after 30. Good luck!
posted by smallstatic at 10:21 PM on June 30, 2007

I don't think being 40 should affect the skinny jean choice--Audrey Hepburn, perennial wearer of skinny jeans, was not a teenager when she wore and looked good in them.

BUT, Audrey Hepburn was built like Audrey Hepburn. Skinny, no hips, flat everywhere. So if you don't have hips or saddlebags or a stomach or thighs, put those jeans on and wear 'em if you like the look. But if you do, for the love of God, find a style of jean built for curves as miss lynster pointed out.
posted by schroedinger at 10:34 PM on June 30, 2007

I have seen 40-ish women on the streets of Seattle who looked wonderful in their skinny jeans, but all of them were short and very skinny-- pixieish, in other words.

Sailor-cut pants seem to be coming into style now, and they are blistering hot. That's what I'd buy, if I were you.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:19 PM on June 30, 2007

Just because you're 40 doesnt mean you cant wear tight stretch jeans but the skinny leg jeans do look kinda silly unless you're wearing a boot over the top - and even then thats no guarentee of looking good. My rule of thumb is - if you cant get an ankle boot *under* them - you cant wear them with shoes.
The picture further up with the skinny jeans and bad shoes just makes me think of peggy bundy.

If you have a good figure theres no reason not to wear tight jeans but they look better with an inch or so extra at the cuff. Personally I prefer a boot cut jean. Its a timeless style.
posted by missmagenta at 11:57 PM on June 30, 2007

My rule of thumb is - if you cant get an ankle boot *under* them - you cant wear them with shoes.

Wear them with flats. That's the popular way to do it.

As others have said, if you feel comfortable in them, go for it. Anyone looks bad completely dressed in trendy clothes, but if you like a certain piece, find a cut and brand you like. As long as it fits well, especially when it comes to jeans, you'll look just fine.

And no, you don't have to be super skinny or flat everywhere either.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:18 AM on July 1, 2007

age is neither a qualifier nor a disqualifier whatsoever. butt size is everything.
posted by bruce at 9:46 AM on July 1, 2007

And no, you don't have to be super skinny or flat everywhere either.

Yes, yes, you do. Otherwise we will be mocking you. Because you will look absurd. Just because other people are taste-challenged doesn't mean you are allowed to join them.
posted by dame at 10:26 AM on July 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

Ugh. Skinny jeans look good on no woman, not even supermodels. The only thing worse than skinny jeans is last year's dressy long shorts trend.
posted by footnote at 10:27 AM on July 1, 2007

Also, this year's skinny jeans aren't the classic Audrey Hepburn style -- the Audrey Hepburn style is looser, shorter, and much more flattering.
posted by footnote at 10:33 AM on July 1, 2007

I'm with Tastybrains, Footnote and any other naysayers on this one: skinny jeans look silly on anyone, regardless of age. I'm all for you wearing whatever you like at 40. I'm just against you being a sorry fashion vicitim at any age.

The day this ridiculously unflattering and mock-worthy trend goes away for good will be one of great joy and relief.
posted by RoseovSharon at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Footnote - thanks for the picture! It reminds me that if I try to bend over at the park in skinny jeans I'm going to have to "say yes to crack". I like the sailor-cut thought - sounds sophisticated and different.

Who needs "What Not to Wear" when they have MF? :)
posted by MiffyCLB at 2:28 PM on July 1, 2007

No to skinny jeans, and not just because of your age. I'm almost the same age as you, so let's take a trip down memory lane: do you remember the bike shorts trend? Now, do you remember how many people actually looked good in them?

I rest my case.
posted by sfkiddo at 4:18 PM on July 1, 2007

A few months ago I saw Jane Birkin in a hotel's bar, and she's 60, not 40 like you, and skinny jeans on her looked perfect. It's not about your age, it's about your thighs and butt and hips.

To give you an idea on how they're supposed to look, and on what kind of thigh-butt-hips combo: J brand (the best, imo) and Miss Sixty, both excellent brands (Js are edgier and tighter). If they don't work for you, it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you, it just means skinny jeans are not your thing. Vintage Levi's can be and usually are more flattering, and they're not particularly snug.
posted by Opera Chic at 4:34 PM on July 1, 2007

On another note, do people really spend $84 for used jeans with a huge hole in them? Or $158 for any jeans at all? Am I just out of touch? (I confess, the last time I bought jeans was the last time skinny was in, so we're talking at least 15 years. I go for the mileage.)
posted by nax at 4:40 PM on July 1, 2007

Yes, yes, you do. Otherwise we will be mocking you. Because you will look absurd.

No, you don't. As I said, it depends on the brand and cut. Different companies have their own interpretations, and a woman doesn't have to have a toothpicklike boyish figure to find a pair that she looks good in.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:13 PM on July 1, 2007

If she loks good in them and is not a toothpick, they are not skinny jeans: they may be straight legs that nod to the craze while not embracing it, but that is not the same thing.
posted by dame at 5:59 PM on July 1, 2007

The operative word in "skinny leg" jeans is skinny. Never has there been an article of clothing whose description so blatantly indicated who should be wearing it.
posted by schroedinger at 8:28 PM on July 1, 2007

cmgonzalez, please post pictures of people who are not skinny who look good wearing skinny-leg jeans.
posted by schroedinger at 8:28 PM on July 1, 2007

I want to look nice, stylish

Keep in mind that these two are often at odds with one another. If you want to look nice, pay attention to how you look in your clothes. You will often find that what is currently in style does not flatter your particular shape.
posted by yohko at 9:16 AM on July 2, 2007

The first answer is the best answer. If you aren't skinny, don't wear skinny jeans. Seriously.
posted by chunking express at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2007

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