A Problem with Trousers – Late Arrivals & First Impressions

The best excuse in Lisbon nowadays is traffic, which serves for any situation: work, dinners, a night out, a meeting with a lawyer, dates. It was exactly in this last scenario that I used it, well-written and assertive, without a period at the end so as not to seem too dry or institutional, directly from one iPhone to another: “I’m running late, there’s impossible traffic.”

I arrived 20 minutes late, exactly in the limbo between fashionable and rude, especially when the meeting was with someone I had never met, only talked to on a social network that started with a like exchange, jumped to the message box, and ended up on WhatsApp. I arrived afraid, embarrassed, half carried away by the rush to get in, and between greeting or not, I ended up sitting immediately, and not leaving any room for hugs or handshakes.

Physically, he was just like in the photos, shorter, thinner, with short hair and huge eyes that reminded me of a praying mantis, he had a chef’s moustache, one of those we see on dodgy pizza boxes, but it gave him a look of a 21st-century Portuguese. He made films, wrote some stuff, and studied some other things; he was the perfect threshold between someone who could go to Madame Butterfly at São Carlos or just hang out drinking beers by the riverside in Belém. Unpretentious enough, with a skin tone that could only be from an island, someone who knew cities like London or Rome like the back of his hand, but without the concern of posting everything on Instagram. He was discreet.

One, two, three dishes later, I immediately realised he had a good appetite, but didn’t drink that much, the bait was thrown and it seemed to me that he had taken it. Split the bill, we pointed without looking at the door, got up, and that’s when something worse than a stomach ache at a Taylor Swift concert enveloped me: he was wearing skinny jeans.

The true terror of our times, the permanent press of the pants or the Skechers of the shoes were there, in front of me, on the guy who five minutes ago I thought was between Gulbenkian and a night at Lux, who had huge eyes and a little moustache, the one who insisted on paying the bill and I realised he wasn’t just saying this, he wanted to. He was wearing skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans are the stepmothers of today’s trends, they are that unwanted cousin who shows up to see the aunt who is bedridden and always ends up staying for dinner, they are the bottled sangrias that didn’t make it to the fridge, they are all the “regular” cigarettes we smoked and now realise how bad they smell (after switching to electronic ones), they are the cringe of adults who don’t know how to use social media or have an overly formed opinion about everything and everyone, they are the Zorro generation that seems to want to have tea to treat wounds instead of putting a band-aid on them.

Skinny jeans squeeze our feelings and elongate our ridicule. Usually made of denim, which we can consider the codfish of fabrics, for being 100% versatile and having seen, in over 200 years, trends and seasons of tears and laughter, nothing ever compares to skinny jeans, but I believe that to talk about them it is necessary to give them a context, as History is a line of conquests and errors, with skinny jeans being left in the ‘mistakes box’, because fashion never makes mistakes, it just sometimes has accidents.

These types of trousers date back to the 18th century, developed two hundred years later, in the 20th century, but it was in the 21st century, in the hands of Hedi Slimane, the master of skinny jeans, that they reached their massification, greatly leveraged by the ‘emo and commercial punk’ movement that started around 2006 and was reflected in bands like The Strokes, Paramore, Tokyo Hotel, or even Avril Lavigne. This trend was so fantastic that Bon Iver himself has a song, from his 2008 album, called Skinny Love. Could he be a lover of skinny jeans?

At a time when wallets were shrinking due to a global crisis that had bankrupted Lehman Brothers Bank and seemed to have no end, this trend that clung to our legs like the Portuguese, years later, clung to the word Troika, only began to see its downfall many seasons later with the beginning of the divorce process between fashion and skinny jeans.

Regarding cutting ties, some evils come for good and that was the pandemic that forced us to stay at home, to find solutions for a life violently interrupted in a world that was trying to get closer and faster. The rules imposed by governments, the demand to confine ourselves to purely domestic life and make our world out of it, was hard work, it was difficult and as always for major changes, we need to wear comfortable clothes, and so discreetly the term ‘comfy’ began to air out our wardrobes, it was an antibiotic for legs that had been exposed to years of constraints by skinny jeans, which longed for wide cuts, baggy or cargo. The revolution had erupted and the divorce was done.

Four years into the pandemic, with two of “returning to normality” whatever that means, we continue to fight against them, we will fight skinny jeans to the last hem, until we feel that the April 25th against this type of trousers was 100% successful, but until then, we continue to fight and going back to the beginning of our conversation, I leave you with a piece of advice: always meet first at the restaurant’s door because you never know if your date will have a problem with their trousers.