My boyfriend wrinkles his face in disapproval, heavily sighs, and asks me if Vogue is playing a prank on me. I understand his concern: We are en route to grab a drink, and I am wearing what could be described as the high-waisted reincarnation of Insane Clown Posse–style rave trousers. The pants boast two panels of denim hanging off of the side seams, which, when pulled wide, make me appear like something akin to the Flying Nun. (When I fold them over the front part of the trouser, they look like a very modest skort.) I don’t look like I’m going for a drink, I look like I’m going to a rave where we sacrifice something. Welcome to “extreme denim.” The fall 2015 season was full of it, ranging from slash-happy Canadian tuxedo pieces by Marques ‘ Almeida to the warped and acid-splashed skirts and pants at Faustine Steinmetz. To top it off, even the beloved, once-defunct JNCO jean and its fat tubular flares are receiving a revival. And sure, all of these denim duds look stellar in the runway universe and in cheeky throwback photographs—as does everything—but how does this intentionally outré look translate to real life?
In hindsight, perhaps a Mets game was not the best place to test out my new wardrobe of extreme denim; and Citi Field, tucked away on a 7 line Flushing Meadows enclave in Queens, possibly not the best locale to reveal my choice of a large denim “caftan” from the label 69. When I put it on, I resembled E.T. with an ominous Father Yod flair—it’s cut like a perfect square and the hood has wrinkly alien features. My boyfriend begged me not to sport what he referred to as a “hooded sack.” But come the bottom of the ninth inning when the air became a bit crisp and the Miami Marlins were slowly creeping behind the Mets, I popped it right on. It was fine while sitting down. But once I stood up, I could see the narrowing of eyes, the smirks, and I could hear the chuckles—mainly from my boyfriend and the two middle-aged men who were sitting next to me. But, much like E.T. and Father Yod, I did not care. In my cocoon of lightweight denim, I transformed into something that is not typically me; I was more outgoing in the shell of sandblasted fabric, cheering and clapping—and I’m not even a Mets fan. Plus, I was warm, far warmer than my boyfriend who was shivering in a thin sweatshirt. Finally, the Mets won—and I very happily wore the look for 45 more minutes and via two subway transfers, all the way back to Manhattan.
Over the next few days, I tried out a few more extreme denim pieces in different situations. I wore my Mets-christened denim caftan on one rainy morning waiting for my train. Sure, I could hear the collective snickers of a group of teenagers—but what did they know? I was fully dry in this piece of lightwash armor. A few days later, I tried an oversize denim jacket by Eckhaus Latta over a pair of skinny black jeans and a striped Equipment button-down—a surprise winner throughout the office. “You look so chic!”, exclaimed my editor.
As my final experiment, I gave those same winged flares by Eckhaus Latta another try. A rainy morning meant a commute spent holding up my hems like a wedding train, but when I finally got to work, and put on a pair of heeled boots, I was good to go. The proportions were oddly super-flattering: the flares so large that my waist looked minuscule, the generous swathes of denim adding a dash of interesting quasi-formality to a regular light blue jean. Even the pair of black skinny jeans that I took along with me as a security blanket backup sat untouched by my desk. I began to make plans to take my new pants out for a night on the town: After all, extreme denim can make a person do extreme things.
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