I recently entered the Vogue New Talent Competition, a contest for aspiring fashion writers under the age of 25. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone like me to tentatively place an ankle-booted toe in the door at Vogue House, London. I’m still holding thumbs that I miraculously (even though I’m not British and am merely in possession of a UK ancestral visa) make it to the illustrious top 10.
The top 10 appear before a panel of judges (including British Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman) and are whittled down to one lucky, lucky, lucky (and talented) individual. The contest has produced some of the world’s finest fashion creatives. The best part? The winner gets to take up a month-long paid internship at Vogue in London. And £1000 prize money (Topshop, babyyyy!) But it is, of course, the internship that I have my heart set on.
Candidates were asked to write three pieces for submission – 800 words on a personal memory; a 500 word feature article (fashion or culture related) and a 500 word polemic or opinion piece. Two of my pieces were elaborations on two of my most favourite blog posts thus far, The New Critics and Leatherette)… the other, the feature article, was a lighter, more snappy piece on a trend that we’re seeing evolve this Winter – the wide leg trouser. This is the piece that I am sharing with you today:
For some time now, we’ve been obsessed with skinniness. Sleek shapes and straight lines – the opposite of fullness. We compare our legs to those of our friends, applying a beady eye in search of that rare gap between the thighs. Narrow enough ankles, some might moan, are hard to come by. And a perfectly shaped derriere? The holy grail.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I was talking about every woman’s’ lifelong fixation – her weight – but I’m actually talking about a different kind of yardstick. And it’s one that is currently experiencing a refreshing fashion revival:
The wide leg trouser.
The past few years have been dominated by a quest to find the skinniest pair of skinnies. Spurred on by Kate and Alexa’s glorious ankles and barely-there behinds, we’ve seen shapely women pour themselves into pants meant for much slighter patrons. Studded, bleached and bejewelled versions added insult to injury, as girls not shaped for the skinny were left feeling that they’d have to suck it up or be left out in the (untrendy) cold. Bootlegs, palazzos and straight legs would simply no longer do. It was skinny or scram.
Slowly but surely, the more non-conformist of those among us have started to experiment again: a peg leg here and a carrot leg there. Flirting with the flare, one might say. Others still clung to their skinnies, and even took to wearing leggings as pants, a no-no for many. What were we to do? Being naturally predisposed towards things that are svelte and simple. But there’s nothing simple about concealing curves in a pair of skinnies, is there?
The return of the wide leg trouser marks an important revival for women everywhere; a reclamation of roominess and a statement in the name of shape. Not since the days of Farrah Fawcett cruising the streets on a banana board in billowing blue jeans have we seen such a liberation of the trouser leg. Okay, so maybe there was a brief homage to the palazzo pant in the mid 1990’s, but most will agree that it was an aberration, fuelled by The Spice Girls and misguided boy bands alike.
This season’s wide leg is much more Birkin or Fawcett. It’s about freedom, confidence and feeling comfortable. The skinny, whether it suited you or not, was a self-conscious declaration of sexiness. The wide leg is its cooler, more carefree successor. Wide legs conjure images of Jane and Serge, striding down the street, eyes squinted in smile, Je t’aime moi non plus lilting on the breeze. Wide legs are 70’s career women crossing courtyards in matching wool waistcoats, and hitching free-love girls, bra-less and blithe.
Whichever image you choose as your inspiration for the season, just know that it is your right to go wide. It’s time to embrace the liberty that the wide leg provides; to say screw the skinny and go big, while we’re at it.