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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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A Gen-Zer’s take on skinny jeans

The denim war is upon us

For weeks, I’ve chuckled as the Washington Post and overzealous TikTokers have warned me to prepare for battle.

Armed to the teeth with safety pins and measuring tapes, these creators have told me, “We ride at dawn to ensure jeans’ rise-heights around the world don’t fall beneath 11 inches.”

And I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the supposed war brewing between Millennials and Gen-Zers over which cuts of jeans are falling out of style. That is, until I opened my closet one day and shuddered at a pair of Levi’s skinnies I’d bought mere months before.

Thinking back, it was a gradual descent. I began dabbling in different cuts of leggings after spotting a photo of Emma Chamberlain sporting some flared Lulus on Instagram, which I suppose opened my eyes to the world outside of skinny jeans that I’d avoided for so long.

A staunch dark-wash skinny jeggings wearer in high school, I would probably scoff at the light-wash straight-leg denim I now sport nearly every day. And I am acutely aware of the distaste I would have had for the bell-bottoms I ordered earlier this week.

But, alas, I too have fallen victim to the cyclicality of fashion trends.

And it’s that same cyclicality that is seemingly the current cause of the conflict.

While I think the majority of Millenials and Gen-Zers are either totally unaware of the fashion revolution we’re living through, or think of it as a light-hearted joke, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t seen some unsettlingly serious TikToks ridiculing the other side for their clothing preferences. And the ammunition has surpassed just jeans.

A few years ago, I swapped out the then-signature side-part I wore in my hair for a sleek middle-part. And while I used to roll my eyes at the Justice-inspired, Y2K-style tiny tops I saw featured in early 2000s movies like “Mean Girls” or “Legally Blonde,” I now sport my own when the Buffalo weather warrants it.

Even my use of the “laughing/crying emoji,” which Gen Zers recently deemed uncool, has dwindled over the years, not out of malice for the Millennials who spawned it, but because… I just didn’t feel like using it anymore.

I will probably keep a pair of skinny jeans or two in my closet for when they inevitably fall back into style, but for now, I’m exploring the world that wider-leg jeans have to offer.

And maybe it’ll even save me a few dollars when I don’t have to replace my American Eagle jeggings every other month. It’s not very economical when the crotch inevitably gets a hole in them after three washes. 

Trends ebb and flow with years, not with generations, and it seems the 2020s are dabbling in the styles of each previous decade; from the blown out feathered hairstyles of the 70s to the fit-and-flare circle skirts of the 50s. But unfortunately, I don’t think low-rise skinny jeans are quite ready to make their comeback.

I’ve seen TikTok moms joke that “if you ever feel unsafe, find a mom, we’re the ones with the skinny jeans and middle parts.” But I’ve also seen unnervingly bitter Millennials chastise their younger generation for our rejection of their trends, much like the public discourse I grew up watching between Millenials and Baby Boomers. 

Conflict between generations is natural, and while we saw Millennials and Gen-Z teaming up to defeat the Baby Boomers for a time, it seems our time to disagree has come. 

And honestly, I’d rather we fight about jeans than health care. 

Reilly Mullen is the editor in chief and can be reached at  

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Reilly Mullen is the editor-in-chief at The Spectrum. She is a senior majoring in political science with a journalism certificate. She enjoys Dunkin’ iced lattes and Scrabble. A former web, features, news and managing editor, she is a columnist at heart but has covered everything from UB Football to breaking news. 



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