Jeans: The layman’s pants. Daisy dukes. Bell bottoms. The Canadian tuxedo. High rise. Acid wash. Boot cut. Ripped. Frayed. Mom. Skinny. Denim. It’s a fabric that’s as versatile as it is constant. You can practically see denim’s decades-long, Rocky-style montage charting its ever-shifting success.
Every couple of years or so, jeans undergo some new transformation, making the old seem new, the out feel in. Denim is a relatively democratic staple in anyone’s wardrobe, but there is a malleability to the fabric that keeps it fresh, no matter the time of year or flaky trend.
In terms of “wearability,” jeans have historically been considered casual, low-key, not-to-be-worn-to-dinner-or-grandma’s, but, slowly, the tides are turning in denim’s favor.
“I definitely think the style has become more elevated. I mean, you can walk into any regular store and there are so many different styles of jeans,” said senior Kate Melia, a student who has watched Miami’s denim trend change over her four years on-and-off-campus.
As of late, both in Oxford and beyond, denim is becoming — if possible — even more multifaceted, both in looks and in purpose. The fabric can now be worn to many corporate nine-to-fives, as well as expanding in terms of style. There really seems to be no end to what denim can do.
At Miami specifically, students reserve jeans for social outings, opting to save the trendy threads for the weekend or evenings out. Where athleisure dominates campus and class five days of the week, Thursday and Friday nights, as well as Saturdays, feel solely reserved for denim.
“I feel like when I was a freshman here, everyone just wore basic skinny jeans,” Melia said. “Plain or ripped, but that’s all anyone wore every time we’d go out. But now, people are wearing cuter jeans: embroidered, mom jeans, looser jeans. There’s a lot of different fits now, whereas freshman year it was all skinny.”
Catherine Caniglia, who graduated from Miami in 2016, said that during her time in college, everyone wore skinny jeans.
“Only skinny,” she added. “High rise didn’t really become a huge thing until probably my junior or senior year.”
Looking around, it does feel like there has been a subtle sort of renaissance in denim, a new acceptance for the kooky shapes and designs that weren’t in vogue five years ago. Embroidery had (is maybe still having?) a moment. The ‘90s-inspired mom jean said, “hey, honey” from the back of the closet. Even a rediscovered love for the disheveled, loose fit boy jean has suddenly stolen the spotlight.
Caniglia, who first came to Miami in 2012, said when she stepped on campus, there was still more of a balanced ratio to what people were wearing on campus, especially girls.
“[I’d say] 50:50 Lululemon to jeans ratio for class,” she said. “I would say it depended on the girl.”
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Compare that with today, eight years later, where virtually every gal and guy sports a pair of black leggings and trendy sneakers. Plus, the high-rise black skinny jean (there’s a mouthful), which hit its peak around 2015-2017, has already had its moment, all in under five years.
“When we first got here, I feel like everyone thought they had to wear a skirt or a dress,”
Melia humorously reminisced of her first week in Oxford. “Oh, I literally wore a velvet black dress and some heels. What was I doing?” she laughed.
It’s simpler now.
“I love loose fit jeans,” she said. “And now, people wear cute jeans and a nicer top rather than wearing a skirt and a sweater or a skirt and booties.”
“You can make jeans look cute,” Melia added. The “no matter what” feels attached. It really is a fabric that does it all, that manages to remain classic in spite of all of its multiplicity.
So, take that, country clubs of America, corporate dictators and Thanksgiving dinners hosted by Boomers. Jeans are back, and better than ever.
Oh wait, they never really left.