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3 Photos Of Me Looking Less Than My Best In Skinny Jeans

You all asked for proof that skinny jeans are not my thing and here you go. You’ve seen bootcut, you’ve seen straight leg, here go skinnies.

Gang, it’s not about the avoirdupois, it’s the geometry of my bones. Well, it’s mostly not about the avoirdupois. I’m at peace with my figure. It’s not what it used to be, sure, but genetics, disciplined eating, and moderate activity keep me within boundaries for health and societally accepted shape.

However,  I think it’s possible to like your body well enough, and still prefer the silhouette certain kinds of clothes give you. And in my case, narrow hips and shortish legs mean that, after my shoulders, upper thighs are the broadest part of my body. Hence, what I refer to as the Bowling Pin Effect. Skinny jeans bring it on.

Witness a classic skinnies look. High-neck tee, J. Crew ankle matchstick denim, old pointy-toe ballet flats.


Not my favorite. Would look great on those of you long of leg, short of waist, or narrow of shoulder.

Let’s say I wanted to wear a slightly longer top. How about an Ann Mashburn button front and some Jeffrey Campbell platforms for leg-lengthening?


Nope. The hem dips where it should rise, and vice versa.

But surely there’s a way! How about a long Bompard cashmere tunic? Technically a sweater dress, but hey, belt it! Lord knows why I have a black grommeted belt in my drawer, but I do. Pull on the Isabel Marant Dickers.


A bit better. I don’t generally care for over-belting, as it provokes fussing and fidgeting, not to mention clothes riding up or riding down incorrectly. For example, the way the sweater is caught up above my bustline? That’s bound to happen over and over. Still, this outfit was good enough that I left it on for a while. And guess what I realized.

Skinny jeans are skinny because they are Tight. A brilliant observation, right? That’s a lot of tough fabric constraining some generally softer parts. Sturdy Gals can take their sturdiness only so far.

And there we have it. I’ll be over here with Rachel Zoe waiting for my favorite trouser trends to return. But if skinnies work for your silhouette, I recommend you stay the course, even through the inevitable Trough of Disillusionment. This is not a post on self-dislike; it is more evidence that everyone ought to trust their sartorial gut.

114 Responses

    1. I agree completely with Kathy and Sandra. This is a great look on you. I think the jeans could be slightly longer and I would not wear them with shoes #2.

  1. The trouser cut jeans look great on you! I think you should wear what makes you look fab rather than wear trendier styles that make you look less than fab.

  2. Very seriously – your legs do not look at all like bowling pins and I actually think the jeans look great. Maybe you just need to wear them for a while to adjust to the silhouette which , IMO, flatters your slender frame. Of course, maybe you just don’t like the look on yourself, which is totally reasonable, but I don’t think you’ve got a too-skinny-leg thing happening. PS: I actually like look 1 the best.

  3. I think you definitely have the figure to wear skinnies. Maybe the issue you’re having with the first two looks is the shoes. The Dickers appear to extend the length of your leg, while the others do not. Love the last look on you!

  4. What ARE you talking about? They all look great on you. Being a bit hard on yourself I think, but we all tend to do that.

  5. You look fine in all three photos, but I think it’s not how you want to look. Photo 3 is best because the height of the heels elongates you and gives you more of the tall, skinny look you and the rest of us border-line petites wish we had. You’ve got your head on straight because you are happy with your self and are just trying to find the best looks…for you!

    1. Exactly. I think it’s a case of silhouette preference, not body dislike. Don’t know how straight my head is on:) but I think this turns out to be a case of everyone’s got different tastes.

  6. I agree with you on the bowling pin look. Since you usually look fantastic and choose/wear your clothes extremely well, I don’t feel bad in saying that I don’t like the skinny-jean look on you at all. I think it emphasizes your upper thigh and gives it a slightly “saddlebag” look, while making your shoulders look narrower. But then maybe I notice because I have that same upper-thigh effect and am not fond of it on myself. I simply avoid emphasizing it (as do you).

  7. Are you kidding? The only one where you don’t look great is the pulled-out shirt one, and that would look sloppy on anyone.

    1. I completely agree with Beth! I actually adore the first two looks on you – your legs are lovely and shapely, and the look gives you a ballerina delicacy. I personally find the slouchy sweat a bit aging on you, compared to how much I liked the first two? And the beige shoes are to die for! What are they?

  8. You look marvelous! The sandals in the middle shot don’t really lengthen the leg, as they are chunky-ish, but the other 2 shots are fab!

    PS – the sweater will get hung up on your bustline regardless of the belt, ’cause that’s what sweaters do.

  9. You’re a beautiful, stylish real woman not a model AND definitely not a bowling pin! The Audrey Hepburn look in number one works for me. Respectfully, I disagree with the leg lengthening effect of the J. Campbell platforms.

  10. I like your look in 1 & 3, but its no good if you’re not comfortable. I recently bought a pair of skinnies to wear in Vegas, where I can be Someone Else ;-)

  11. Not a fan of skinny jeans. Straight legs are as far as I’ll go. For the very same reason that leggings are not pants – it is the rare few (ballerinas, models) who can pull this look off without looking like a fashion victim/lemming. Be original. Sturdy girls know that jeans which provide nothing but a wedgie are hardly worth wearing.

    1. I agree! As great as Lisa looks in all of the photos she posts, I really admire her for posting these. They ARE less than great, for exactly the reason you cite: skinny jeans only work for models and ballerinas (and that’s only if there is minimal musculature in the thigh area). Straight legs, on the other hand, can create a gorgeous silhouette.

  12. I agree with you. Not about the bowling pin, but that the look doesn’t work well. Of course I’m not a trend follower so that is a factor. However, it just strikes me as a look the Lisa we’re used to seeing wouldn’t wear. Anyway, if we don’t learn anything in life we should at least learn to wear what we are happy in.

  13. look 1 is bloody fantastic. textbook urban casual, and my art department would snap you up immediately. (i completely understand that they don’t feel like your style to you, but they’re empirically great.)

  14. Look 2 isn’t so hot – but I love look 1!!

    When we have short legs we need to wears shoes that create an illusion. For me the big chunky shoes are a no-no.

  15. Well, I think you look great. #2 is not awesome, but it’s just not a good outfit. #1 and #3 are amongst your better looks.

    This post also made me think about something – when we criticize ourselves, we criticize others too. Because that’s what I look like in skinny pants, and I wear them a lot and feel good in them. But this post and some of the comments make me think, oh bowling pins, oh saddlebags. Which is not to say that a) I can’t hold my own opinions, or b) everybody has to like how I look in my pants. Nonetheless, it is a little disconcerting to read such critiques.

    1. I think you should be heartened by the overwhelming approval for the looks. There’s clearly nothing broadly unattractive – it’s just not my favorite silhouette. A few others feel as I do, but we’re in the minority. And who knows where the preference comes from!?!

  16. Lisa – You are WAY hard on yourself and I hope you now feel better after these positive comments. My question is: why don’t you wear brighter colors which would draw the eye up? Then the skinnies would be more background than foreground if you catch my drift. In any case, you look great and for sure better than 99% of the women our age!

    1. Well, thank you for the compliment. You will probably laugh when I tell you that I like bright colors even less than skinny jeans:).

  17. I agree about them being “a lot of tough fabric constraining some generally softer parts”. You crack me up.
    I also have broad shoulders, narrow hips and short legs. Skinnies are not my best look and the comfort factor ruin them for me.
    Great post!! Thanks for indulging your readers and illustrating your point by showing us.

    1. ;) Notice how I didn’t take these photos on the streets of San Francisco? Just couldn’t go beyond the patio…

  18. You should wear what you feel best in, but you can definitely wear skinny jeans if you want to. Look #1 is great, and the boots in #3 look terrific. It’s just hard for me to see anyone indulge in that kind of body dysmorphia…

    1. I promise it’s not body dysmorphia. I like my body. I just don’t like the silhouette that skinny jeans create. I even switched the bowling pin graphic so it wasn’t an arrow pointing at my upper thigh, so as to moderate the tone. Guess I didn’t go far enough:).

  19. See, the deal is, none of those garments clinging to your [divine] legs qualify as Jeans. Those are denim leggings. Those are denim tights. But I have laughed so hard at how you put “bowling pin” in those bubble labels that I may have even laughed off one whole pound, so thank you for that, but you are so wrong about looking like a bowling pin. However I do finally think I understand why you prefer boot cuts, it’s that one long unbroken line, hip to ankle, with no fabric clinging to you at any point. xo

  20. If you don’t like the look, you don’t like it, and there are so many other choices.
    BUT you look good in the skinnies — my favourite photo is the top one, actually, but it might be that I like the attitude in that stance. I think it’s also because the casual dark slim top fits the vibe of the jeans, as do the shoes. (although I love the Dickers as well)

  21. You are too hard on yourself. I think all three look amazing, especially one and three. I think the problem is *this* pair of skinny jeans. You need some that are just the tiniest bit longer; maybe you can get a tall and have them hemmed to your proper length?

    1. I agree, they could be longer. I’d give J.Brand 811’s a try. It’s nice when they have a touch of “slouch” at the ankle.

    2. They all look fine, but yes, maybe if they were longer instead of hesitating above the ankle.

  22. I see what you mean – no criticism implied.

    Why wear something that makes an otherwise fine figure look out of proportion, even if the exaggeration is mostly in your own eyes?

    Maybe you can give them to your daughter.

    1. I think I’ll take them back to J. Crew and get another button-front shirt:).

  23. Actually #1 and “3 from the waist downwards makes you look sexy!
    Maybe a different type of top/ sweater?

  24. I hear you. I have the unpopular opinion that skinnies really are for the skinny. Just because they come in your size doesn’t mean the style complements your figure. I think the style looks best on the woman with no hip and is lean, slimmed leggged. I’m not that woman and while I know how to pair tops that look good with the skinny, the truth is, the fit doesn’t work with my no hip but very muscular thigh, short build.

    Why do some of us still think that because a trend is cute and looks great on the model that all we need is the right size? Seriously?

    I don’t think you’re being critical. I think you made a honest, gut observation. I applaud that.

  25. OK, first off, I should admit that I just don’t like skinny jeans. Never have. They look a graceless compromise, as though someone was trying to produce leggings but didn’t have access to any knit fabric.

    I don’t even like them on women who actually qualify as “skinny.” As for the women who are asking waaaay too much of their spandex? Ugh.

    When I see super-snug skinnies, I don’t think “sexy,” I think “yeast infection.”

    I also dislike cropped pants and deliberately–too-short skimmers (or whatever the hell they’re called.) And I’m short-waisted and long-legged and I think they make me look stumpy.

    I think your straight legs — with flats — and your bootcuts — with heels — are really all the jeans you need, anyway. You look fabulous in them!

  26. So I like you in the skinnies. In the first photo, you look like I do, much of the time (minus the high neck). And yes, I am not a fan of my greater trochanter : anterior superior iliac spine ratio (or, what you would call the bowling pin effect), and for a long time I hid in bootlegs, even though all that extra fabric around my foot would get wet in winter, and dusty in summer, and made me feel a bit frumpy. But then I thought, embrace your body shape! It is, after all, the one you have. And now I wear Made in Heaven Paris cropped skinnies, with just enough stretch to make them comfy. And yes, I do not look like a gazelle, but then I am 5’2″, and nor do I look like K-Middy, Queen of Sensible. Which, as a Sturdy Age Thirty, is something I’m trying to avoid :-)
    Of course, being Sturdy, my final thought is, if they don’t make you happy, don’t wear them! But I think you look lovely, as usual.

  27. Wow, so many comments. Have to admit I’m not a skinny jean fan, think they don’t look that good on many women. Aside from how you think you look in them, as a fellow sturdy my reaction is – if you’re uncomfortable then why wear them? It ain’t worth it.

  28. Truth is… it’s a hipper, younger look that you’re not used to. Your look tends to be more conservative and classic. Skinnies (aka leggings) grate on your history and knowledge of fashion. Walk around any college campus and it’s the ONLY thing you’ll see on the women. Trousers would seem old fashioned.

    I find that skinnies can also have a “costumey” vibe to them — especially as in #3 with boots and tunic — renaissance, fantasy, robin hood, androgynous warrior princess, dancer, swashbuckler, elfish. I happen to like that sort of thing and the way it makes me feel.

    Everyone has their own image and persona to portray! it’s not just about “style” or “fashion”… I think fashion trends happen because of something going on in the collective psyche and social atmosphere. Like big shoulder pads in the 40s and the 80s when women were competing with men for strength in the workplace.

    1. So this is interesting. What do we think the zeitgeist is for skinny jeans? The swashbuckle? Worn with round toe ballet flats they always seem girlish to me…

  29. Just because the fashion gods have ruled that skinny jeans are currently more stylish than other shapes (although I’m thinking that they may have moved on as we speak), I’ve never felt I was required to capitulate to unseen forces. If you like the look when you see yourself in the mirror, then go for them; if you don’t, then ignore comments about how much more fashionable you’d be if you wore them. Most remarks distill down to “I like wearing them, so you ought to as well”. Hold out, Lisa, for what YOU like when you look into the mirror–it’s your legs that need to be squeezed into those skinnies!

  30. Dearest Lisa, you have a fantastic figure! Perhaps you don’t feel (rather than look) your best in skinny jeans simply because this style is not reflection of your clothing personality. You know who you are not. Just because you can wear it (beautifully!) does not mean you should wear it.

  31. Please don’t shoot the messenger!these are so ‘non you’in both meanings of the word…..skinnies don’t favour anyone regardless of their figures plus they look uncomfortable.Your straight leg trouser’s suit your Miss Sturdy gel looks. Judith

  32. I don’t look good in them either and I prefer the look of a trouser jean. I think a woman should dress her body for her best look and not bow down to the fashion gods!

  33. call me crazy but i prefer you in these than in your regular jeans. i did not read a single comment before me so i’m wondering what everyone else thinks. these just look more polished and slimming to me.

  34. You don’t have to wear skinny jeans if you don’t want to, and neither do I. It has nothing to do with being hard on yourself. If you don’t like a look, you don’t like it. And I’m on your side about skinny jeans. Give me a nice mini-bootcut any day.

  35. I think that issue is the styling, not the shape of the jeans.
    You look great in the first photo and third photo because the shoes and tops work well with the jeans. In the second photo the shoes throw off the look, IMO.
    You have an amazing figure, rock it in some skinny jeans!

  36. I think photo one looks great, actually. Much better than how I rock my skinnies. Not that I’m the jeans yard stick but you look great, Lsa!

    SSG xxx

  37. I have to disagree with you. You look terrific in those jeans. Wear them…. :-)

  38. Lisa, you know I love you; you’re one of my all-time favorite bloggers. But, please – I really AM shaped like a bowling pin (or maybe the Liberty Bell is more accurate). You look wonderful in those jeans. You have gorgeous legs.

    Wear the jeans proudly.

  39. You •can* wear them but the second photo shows why you don’t. Isn’t the range of opinion fascinating? What one woman bemoans another envies.

    If you want almost-skinny, you could have straight-legs taken in; a good tailor can make them as narrow as you want, to the millimeter. It always surprises me that more women don’t do that, men have for ages.

    1. The range of opinion is absolutely fascinating. If we’ve learned anything it should be that the range of aesthetics is broad, broad, broad.

  40. Nice pins, dear–and they’re NOT bowling pins!I’m a fan of looks 1 and 3.

    I love Duchesse’s idea of having straight-legs tailored. I have a 34″ inseam and don’t wear skinnies, not because I don’t like the look (I do, with a longer top that covers the upholstery), but because I can’t stand how the too-tight fabric squinches up and ripples and won’t hang straight along the side seams once you move. This issue bothers me enough that I will opt for fine-wale corduroy leggings instead. My stems are tender flowers that don’t want to be strangled.

  41. Well, the consensus (rapidly scanned) seems to be that you look great.

    I think it’s a matter of personal preference re style rather your body. I’d do longer boots OVER the jeans, but that’s my preference. I’d say you definitely have the legs to carry that off without looking in the least bit truncated.

  42. From these and from all your photos and writing here, I think it’s clear that you know what your appearance is and what it isn’t, so I won’t repeat all the accurate compliments you receive! I just want to say that I have so much respect for it when people can see things like this, and simply for aesthetics (not bad self image) decide not to wear a particular something. It is so beautiful to me when we can view our bodies in that way, as our much loved and appreciated vehicle or dwelling, honoring them through acceptance and not forcing either them or our spirits into things that do not best fit us. My own case with skinny jeans is a lean figure that won’t build muscle/shape into my calves and thighs no matter what I have ever done – stick legs combined with knobby knees like a 9 year old girl. :) It’s legitimate freedom and fashion philosophy to “wear whatever you like” no matter how it may honestly look on you, if it “makes you happy” – we seem to celebrate this so much in the world today – but it really inspires me when I encounter those who honor what is to me a principle of beauty, awareness, quality and decision as you do.

    1. Thank you. Life is full of times when you have to balance experimenting vs. respecting your own feelings and beliefs. Knowing when choices are driven by fear or mistaken beliefs, and when they are right. Skinny jeans are a metaphor, I suppose, of sorts.

  43. Lisa, you are way too hard on yourself and I MUCH prefer this style of jean on you compared to the boot leg jeans.

    I do agree with you that it is not fun to fidget with things like a belt over a tunic.

  44. Seriously… ? I think you look GREAT especially the last outfit. I think skinnies do take a bit of getting used to but honestly you can “rock them girlfriend” ! Have a great weekend. S x

  45. I empathise. I have broader shoulders, too and avoid any kind of tapered pant for reasons of visual balance. Flares and bootcuts are ok.

    I actually think the third picture would work if the tunic had a different, namely wider, neckline. As it is, the uninterrupted expanse of fabric between shoulder and neck emphasises the broad shoulders. A wider neckline would break up the space up and emphasise the “portrait area”. Maybe a scarf would do the trick.

    1. You are probably right. But scarves have an even higher “fidget quotient”:).

  46. I love the look in photo #1, and I think it’s very flattering on you.

    At the same time, you’ve earned the right to wear what makes you comfortable. I would encourage you to do as Duchesse suggests and have pants tailored to fit you. I’ve had a couple of many pairs of bootlegs tailored into straight-legs and I like them better that way. Since I moved to Spain, my gaze has changed, and I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable wearing clothes closer to the body, which is, in my opinion, generally more attractive than wearing things that are quite loose.

  47. Your legs are great! To my eye, skinny jeans look good on no one, including those who are gene’s have given them the silhouette to wear supposedly wear them well. Straight leg, boot cut and trouser jeans are my personal preference. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

  48. I’d actually say that the skinnies look fantastic on you.

    But it’s a silhouette that’s tricky in the mind. If you don’t feel good in them it will never be your best look and no one wants to walk around feeling self conscious and uncomfortable all day.

    1. Well, right. I mean, it’s not a moral victory to wear clothes one doesn’t like, unless the not liking were driven by the not liking of self:).

  49. Wow, you have a wonderful silhouette,

    (and I do Photoshop-retouch models’ photos for a living most of the time, which makes me hope I might have a clue about silhouettes..ummh…)

    outfit 1 & 3 look fashion editorial worthy to me, really beautiful silhouette you’ve been blessed with.

    As with all major silhouette style fashion changes, slim pants take effort and time to get used to…I’ve experienced the same ‘oh my good look at my thighs’ feeling… I eventually got to like this type of fashion although most of the time I soften it with the addition of a long top that covers enough to make me feel good. (as you also did in #3 which looks amazing

    Congratulations & thanks for sharing this with us:)

  50. I’ll echo the others and say I think you look great in these jeans, but I also hear you about not wanting your ladyparts squished into tight, stiff fabric.

    Wear what you love. I’m wearing a full skirt today. It’s not my best look – with the way I carry my weight, a narrower skirt looks better – but I like the pretty striped fabric and it feels like a summer skirt (which, as you know, we don’t get many opportunities to wear in SF) so damn it, I’m wearing it.

  51. You look fabulous in all of the photos but I completely understand the preference for a long unbroken line as I have that same preference.

  52. You look amazing in these jeans! You are waaaaay too hard on yourself…..look at those pictures again and see the simply perfect body you have. Wear them and enjoy the compliments!

  53. Glad you posted on this subject, since skinnies are all the rage right now. But they just don’t suit any elegant/sexy/sturdy/or even artsy female over the age of oh, say, 47 — no matter how good one may look. (And you totally rocked ’em with the long black tunic, which is the most successful look with skinny-legged bottoms.) Bottom (!) line: boot cuts are best — they balance the hips and recollect, ever so subtly, our rockin’ 1970s. So never mind the current trend for skinnies; these, too, shall pass.

  54. Lisa, first I think you are being too self-critical as anyone looking at these would think you are slender. But having a similar build and being constantly told that I am skinny–I have lately been feeling “fat” in my own skinnies and have decided to chalk it up to being thoroughly over the trend. I’m thinking about switching to dresses and maxi dresses for summer. That might take my mind off my hips and butt not being as tiny as I might wish…we’ll see it goes as buying new clothes is not my favorite way to spend my time.

    xo Mary Jo

  55. I am barely 5’3″ and love to wear skinnies. Same colour top as pants makes for a great silhouette. And you look good in those skinnies, esp. photo #1. It often takes a while for the eye to adjust.

  56. You’re totally insane – we should all wish to look that good in skinny jeans! Look closely at the mirror, those are not bowling-pin hips lady!! You look fab, embrace it.

    1. I’m having trouble seeing the bowling pin, too. Lisa would have to have MY shoulders [very very narrow] for bowling pin to be accurate. Wouldn’t sponge bob square pants be more accurate?


    2. Ha! I did wonder how my shoulders played in the simile, and had decided they were the rack from which the pin was hanging:). Sponge Bob is a dear, however, and I’m happy to shift language.

  57. I think you look just fine in the skinnies. Not passable, but fine. If I were you, I’d wear them a lot, probably just a touch longer. And yes, they are a lot like leggings, and yes, imho you still look good. But that’s just me. Wear what you like and find flattering and comfortable (I know that you will; I’m probably just saying this to encourage myself to do the same).

  58. Two thumbs up! I think you look really hot!!! :) Don’t pull out your mom jeans. Keep it fresh.


  59. I totally understand that you dislike this silhouette BUT I can honestly say you look great to me in all 3 photos! I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with having thighs especially since they’re balanced perfectly with your shoulders. And you have fabulous legs! If you wore black skinnies plus black boots or heels, your legs would go on to infinity!
    I would have loved it if you tried a loose shirt or simple tunic/blouse (not knitted like here) so you don’t need to belt at all and it could be same the length you prefer in the last photo (my fav).

    I discovered this for myself by accident – a loose man’s chambray shirt over skinnies covers my middle and enough of the top of the legs perfectly. I don’t suit skinnies at all really and this is one of only 2 ways it can work even for me! Mind you I do not wear my skinnies tight at all. They’re just close fitting, never tight, tight.

  60. Mercy, I have the same problem but for different reasons. I liked your last solution. I did a Buck That Trend post about the same thing earlier this year. I’m with you on the trousers. My bottom half can’t bear the kind of skimming these give! Amen and amen, again!

  61. Seriously? I came here via a link from the Guardian with the promised link, ‘Photos Of Me Looking Less Than My Best In Skinny Jeans’. And I come to a beautiful woman looking great in skinny jeans!

  62. Thanks for the reference to the Trough of Disillusionment! I was curious enoug to click through to the Gartneer website with a curve and all. It tickled the economist in me! An apt application from technology to fashion…

  63. I like the third photo, but I guess I am like you and prefer what you call “straight jeans.” Though I was considering mine skinny jeans that are actually comfortable. I only got a pair of them that I actually wear a few months ago and I am really liking them. It took me so long because I know that I just will not wear uncomfortable jeans. I have another pair of skinny/straight ones that I got a couple of years ago, but have only worn them a handful of times when I knew I would only be wearing them briefly and mostly standing. On many occasions I have put them on, only to take them off a few minutes later in favor of a more comfortable pair. BUT my new pair of straight/skinny-ish jeans is one of my most comfortable. Comfortable and cute….ah…

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