The people have spoken. During the first Instagram poll 42% of participants asked me to review stretchy denim, which lost out to a tale of petty revenge. The second resulted in 46% again wanting to hear my thoughts on pliable jeans, but being thwarted by those who preferred I review white chocolate. I know math – that’s a total of a whopping 88% of you who desperately want this denim review. So here goes.
It’s appropriate that I’m writing this review at a Starbucks in Wilmington, DE on the Riverfront. I grew up less than a mile from here, on 2nd and Connell St. – the place that shaped my young mind. It was here where I adopted the nebulous “code” I detailed in a previous blog entry (Embracing white people stuff) – a code that, in short, demanded that I not participate in any bitchass activities (things that ran counter to my peers’ perception of manliness). Of course, I can’t consult my younger self to inquire about his feelings on stretchy jeans, but I feel fairly certain that he’d say something like: “Nah, that’s gay.” However, after years (decades, even) of soul-searching, I’ve matured, resolved the latent (to active) homophobia I’ve discovered in retrospect, and become generally more open to trying new experiences.
Oh, and one other pertinent change occurred since then: weight gain. Now, I’d venture to assume that most folks who know me would not describe me as overweight and some might even call me “slim,” though I’d disagree with that charge – and I don’t think of myself as being overweight either. That said, however, upon closer examination you might find that I’m a deceptively curvaceous individual – not fat by any means, but bottom-thick… a gentleman of tasteful abundance in the rear areas… well-proportioned, as is my father’s lineage.
And with those changes in my voluptuity and mental fabric, I’ve come to the following conclusion on the aforementioned physical fabric: THIS SHIT IS AMAZING!
I know DuPont poisoned a bunch of people or something but that is a topic for another time. I’ve got to thank them for inventing Elastane (Spandex) in 1959, thus paving the way for this marvel I speak of today. Then, in 1978 visionary designer, Peter Golding, had the thought “I like the look of jeans but I really wish I could see a bit more of the butt-crack indentation they’re obscuring – tastefully, tho.” His solution was to add just a *splash of Spandex (or Lycra) to the cotton and polyester in his denim mixture. The result was an utter wonder of a textile which fused all the style of denim with some of the comfort of sweat pants minus the shame of sweat pants.
*The amount of Elastane in stretchy denim varies but in general can be grouped into three categories:
- 1% Elastane: Increased mobility
- 2% Elastane: Tighter-fitting, very comfortable to sit and move around in
- 3-4% Elastane: Can I borrow that Susan B. Anthony dollar in your right pocket? Yes, the one from 1980, next to the buffalo nickel. Also, why do you have so many rare coins in your pocket? Never mind. Just the dollar please… and that Jackie Robinson trading card next to it as well.
I have to admit that there was some degree of internal struggle when I decided to make the leap from the prison of rigid denim to the open pastural freedom of stretchy jeans. I remember my first time trying on a pair. I was in an Express store. I’d found the perfect wash; a deep midnight-ocean of a blue – a few starry flecks mirrored those peeking through the cloudy sky above that same night. I lifted them from the shelf and considered them for a moment. The fabric felt a little different than I was used to – a bit smoother, perhaps. Softer? I tugged them gently in my clinched fists. They flexed and deftly sprang back to form. I checked the label: Slim Stretch. Gasp! My instinctive horror quelled after a moment; “Why not give them a try?” I thought.
I found the solitude I required in a dressing room; the jeans cuffed under my bicep in shame until I was safely out of view. I plunged my right leg into the corresponding chasm, expecting my foot to slide right through to the exit of the tunnel like so many times before. Much to my surprise, the jeans trapped my leg like Spider-Man’s web clinging to a petty thug he discarded from a rooftop. So, I gathered up the slack a bit like a lady putting on pantyhose (strike one) and managed to get each leg through. Then, as I pulled the waist up over the crest of my buttocks, I instinctively (and through necessity) did a little hip shimmy-shake thing to work the jeans into place (strike two). It just didn’t feel quite right. Was the material supposed to be right up against my package like that? I’d never felt such a sensation from a non-underwear garment.
I could hear my younger self: “Are you kidding me right now!? You got us out here lookin’ a damn mess, homie. If you wanted something from the ladies’ section why didn’t you just go straight there? …Purple Rain, lookin’ ni**a. …’Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’, lookin’ ni**a. …Eddie Murphy ‘Raw’ and ‘Delirious’ lookin’ ni**a….”
I must’ve been in that dressing room for a good 25 minutes, just staring at the tightness of the pants upon me. But then a strange thing happened as the jeans I’d worn into the dressing room slipped from the bench onto the floor. I bent down to pick them up and the stretchy jeans moved with me – guiding the flexion of my joints, like a supportive parent, almost as if to say, “You can do this. I’m here for you. Together, we can accomplish whatever you put your mind to. Trust in me.”
There was no weird bunching of material – no over-exposure of my hind parts – no flood effect at the ankle (also known as the High Sally). For the first time as a plentifully fleshed individual, I felt as if my pants were working with me, rather than in opposition. A single tear rolled from my right eye as I lifted my chin with pride and gazed toward the heavens where those who’d struggled far more than I had too found their peace. “Freedom,” I said through a smile. “Freedom.”
Why are people dooming themselves to a life of discomfort? There’s a better way! I think that when many guys hear stretchy denim, they think, skinny jeans, and that’s not always the case. You can find yourself a good pair of jeans with just a sprinkle of Elastane for seasoning that will give you the slack you desire while also being there to hold you gently and warmly in your times of need. You deserve a friend like that. Uncouple your thoughts about stretchy denim with the stock footage in your brain of Cosmo Kramer in Seinfeld, episode 133, struggling to walk in his painted-on dungarees.
Instead, pair your thoughts of stretchy denim with Tony Stark in his lair, perfecting the Iron Man suit. You think Tony is only thinking about weaponry and defense? No sir. He’s also making sure that suit bends and flexes where he needs it to, in support of his manly curves and bits. No shot Iron Man has that level of confidence without supreme rump, ball and extremity comfort. You don’t have to go full Spider-Man and drape yourself from head to toe with Spandex. Just a tasteful application will give you the powers you desire. “Jarvis, increase Elastane in the right knee sector by 0.35%” …”As you wish, sir.”
If I’ve learned anything in my lifetime, it’s that, while you don’t necessarily need to constantly change your beliefs, you’re better served by being open to receiving the information which might lead to such a change and with that information you can best choose your own path. I’m here to tell you that stretchy denim is the path of comfort, leisure and style. Open your mind.
Verdict: 10 out of 10