This just in: The international love affair with skin tight denim continues, despite the fact that there are certain things you can't do in skinny jeans. Apparently, high on that list is squatting — specifically, squatting for long periods of time while helping your friend unpack boxes. Which I guess means a lot of people just found yet another reason to flake out on helping their friends move (for shame, people). But just how restrictive are our skinny jeans? I took to the streets, my living room, and the trees to find out.
First, let's discuss jean type. Obviously, skinny jeans are not one size fits all, or even one style fits all. So in order to tackle this little experiment from the most straightforward point of view, I chose a pair of simple, full denim skinny jeans with a slightly loose ankle. They're what I would consider mid-level skinny jeans. Neither my tightest jeggings, nor my most comfortably worn-in light denim skinny jeans. I wanted something both durable and realistically restricting (which I sincerely hoped wouldn't backfire and land me in the hospital), in order to push the jeans to their limits (hopefully without tearing a pair of skinny jeans I actually like).
Most of us have given this a go in skinny jeans at one point or another, although usually not by choice. And depending on the tightness of your jeans and how your body is shaped, it's not always such a bad experience. But like any jeans, skinny jeans don't allow for much circulation, or ventilation, and they're especially prone to causing chafing between your thighs when it comes to running.
The verdict? Doable, but not entirely enjoyable. I'd much prefer athletic shorts or yoga pants during my next run — at least that way I won't be drenched within the first lap and my legs will be able to breathe.
2. Sitting Cross Legged
Everyone has a favorite way to sit. For me, and many others, that go-to is criss-cross apple sauce (or any of the other less politically correct nicknames that sitting cross-legged has garnered over the years). If you're in well-worn skinny jeans, sitting this way isn't usually a problem. But cross into the realm of skintight jeggings and genuine denim skinny jeans (especially if they're new), and things can get a little dicey.
As you can see, I made it happen without too much trouble, but I had to sit on a bit of an incline, and it's definitely not the comfiest or tightest of crosses. Verdict? I do sit that way in skinny jeans, but much less than when I'm wearing bootcuts or flairs, or yoga pants for that matter. It works, but not at optimum levels of comfort.
3. Doing Yoga
Although yoga pants have encountered all sorts of controversy over the years, they're supremely comfortable. Frankly, I can't really fathom why you wouldn't want to wear them. (So what if they accentuate your bum? It's a bum. Everybody's got one.) However, if a moment came along in which you were so moved to do yoga you couldn't be stopped, and all you had were your skinny jeans, wouldn't you like to know if it was possible?
Well, let me save you the trouble of wondering. Yes, it is possible. For many standing asanas, skinny jeans will get you by. But if you really want to get the full benefit out of your practice, or expect to experience full mobility (especially during floor poses), skinny jeans are not recommended.
Here again we come up against the issue of restricted blood flow (and proper blood flow is pretty essential to a successful yoga routine) and limited movement. Not to mention how you hold yoga poses for extended periods of time, and wearing skinny jeans can cause a whole lot of discomfort and detrimental pinching of nerves and arteries in that process. The verdict is: not worth it.
Again, most of us aren't going to attempt to head to our kickboxing classes in skinny jeans — that's just kind of silly. Why bother when we have perfectly good workout pants and athletic shorts? But what if you had to put your kick boxing skills to the test at the spur of the moment? And what if, you guessed it, you happened to be wearing skinny jeans?
Other than the uncomfortable heat factor caused by your jeans' absolute lack of ventilation, kickboxing is surprisingly easy to achieve in skinny jeans, at least from a basic workout standpoint. (I'm not sure that I'd want to go up against an opponent who had full mobility though.) Since much of your action involves bent knees and quick movement, the skinny jeans don't hinder you too much. Until you start to really sweat, that is. Then things get sticky, and mobility decreases, because your pants bind to your skin, effectively turning you into a kickboxing sausage.
So what's the verdict? If you want to sneak in some quick cardio without changing after your day, OK. But don't expect your skinny jeans to stay in top shape if you make a habit of it. And do expect to sweat. A lot.
As far as activities with specialized pants go, biking is kind of king. And skinny jeans actually meet one of the essential requirements for bike pants — they're cut slim enough to stay clear of the gears and wheels of your bicycle. What they don't offer is a flexible waist band, stretchy fabric, or breathability. So after riding around in skinny jeans (something I've done on many occasions), I can attest to the fact that it's a totally viable practice, especially for short commutes.
However, if you're going to bike for any real distance, or for the purpose of an intense workout, put on some shorts or bike pants. You'll feel much more comfortable. And, as I discovered with my mid-rise skinny jeans, you'll be less likely to give anyone behind you a sneak peek of your upper bum as you ride past.
6. Climbing A Tree
OK, so maybe climbing trees isn't part of everyone's daily routine anymore. But reclining on a shady tree branch with book in hand isn't such a bad way to spend a sunny summer afternoon. And some of us just like knowing we can still climb trees. I for one, being that sort, couldn't turn down the opportunity to prove that I still had tree-climbing chops, even in skinny jeans. And as it turns out, they're not so bad for the task.
They're restrictive, so you have to find a tree with accommodating branches, because one thing that is difficult in skinny jeans is pulling off a full trunk shimmy. But once you get past the fact that you'll either be showing a plumber crack to the world or consistently hiking up your jeans, this is totally doable. My only wish is that the one tree in my neighborhood suitable for climbing was less full of ants. Sigh.
7. Napping In The Sun
Clearly, there was little question here, but hopefully this will illustrate my point. In case you haven't noticed, nearly everything I've attempted has been possible in skinny jeans, at least to some extent. The catch is whether or not you're willing to experience some discomfort and sacrifice practicality. So, after a long day of trying varying tasks in skin tight denim, I thought I'd give some relaxation and comfort a try. And you know what? Skinny jeans are fine, just fine, when it comes to kicking back and enjoying the sun.
Unless it's 90 degrees out. Which it is. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to head inside and find some shorts.
Images: Jen Schildgen