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Men: Just Say No to Dad Jeans

In defense of skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors and other fashion items of our youth

By Peter Gerstenzang

Not long ago, I bumped into an old acquaintance once considered the coolest kid in town. Jimmy always looked like he got up hours before school started, then devised strategies of dress so well-planned and executed, it was like fashion’s version of the invasion of Normandy Beach.

dad jeans
Credit: Getty Images

His suede jacket was as perfectly distressed as Woody Allen, his Doc Martens were immaculate and he always had T-shirts featuring bands so hip no one had ever heard of them. Groups like Mary Tyler Morphine, Slint and Hostile Comb-Over. Then, there were his dungarees. They fit Jimmy so exquisitely I believed he slept with them on wet, so they molded around his legs overnight.

Imagine my horror when I recently bumped into my fashion hero. Aside from sneakers with Velcro laces, Jimmy had on dad jeans! The kind that are sky blue and as baggy and boxy as snow pants. We shook hands, but Jimmy was clearly embarrassed. The only creature I’ve ever seen look as humiliated was my neighbor’s dachshund Fritz, whose owners dressed the poor creature in lederhosen and an alpine hat one Christmas.

I vowed then and there that I would never suffer Jimmy’s fate.

Taking a Stand Against Dad Jeans

Many of us, ever since we first saw the guys in West Side Story, have  been in love with skintight  jeans. (Many of us also have tried to duplicate the choreography of The Jets only to accidentally knock the cat off the bed. But I digress.) We have eaten carefully and worked out. Is our reward in midlife supposed to be a pair of dungarees so big and loose, they look like an orthopedist recommended them after knee replacement surgery? I say: No way!

We haven’t exercised this much, skirted the carbs and avoided all those delicious desserts so we can look like a retired president who’s going to a Dave Matthews concert, have we? It’s time someone took a stand against all this self-imposed dorkiness. And I guess that someone is me.

As we grow older, we suffer so many losses. We lose hair, we lose teeth, we lose the ability to get out of a chair without groaning like a yak with osteoarthritis.

And there are folks who will tell you that, at a certain age, you need to lose certain articles of clothing. You have to 86 the leather jacket, they say, toss away those hip shades and stop wearing skinny jeans. You’re a grown-up now, they say. It doesn’t matter if those denims still fit and you look and feel sensational in them; it’s simply time to start acting your age. And by that, they mean: Start dressing like you’re going golfing with Perry Como.

Wisdom of the Ages


To play it safe, I checked some of the great writings in history to see if they had anything to say on the matter.

The Old Testament’s only real reference to clothes is you shouldn’t mix any woolen and linen garments. OK, easily done.

Next I looked at The Constitution. The First Amendment states that there should be nothing abridging the “freedom of speech” or the right to peacefully assemble. In other words, you can not only wear skinny jeans, but also get together with others who have similarly cool tastes. That’s another yes.

Finally, I consulted the bible of all things cool: Archie Comics. Jughead Jones wears his jeans as tight as the skin of a snare drum. And who’s hipper than Jughead?

The Time Is Now

Now, there may come a day when we will be forced to forego snug rock T-shirts, Chuck Taylor sneakers and jeans that look like we just had them painted on. Like if you need to make room for a catheter. But unless your jeans are aggravating your phlebitis, let’s have fun.

Men, we have skipped 5,000 desserts and run enough miles to take us to Switzerland. We earned these waists and legs — and the skinny jeans that cover them.

One caveat: There is one rule that applies to these dungarees we worked so hard for: They must be zipped. So put those pants on, examine your zipper and go out and rock!

Peter Gerstenzang is a humorist, video director and journalist. Read More
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