Style

We Can Let Skinny Jeans Die, But Please, Not The Side Part

The author circa 2012 with far-left side part and probably wearing skinny jeans. Photo: Courtesy of Theresa Massony.

Gen Zers have waged a seemingly never-ending battle against classic staples of millennial style, with the former delivering devastating blow after devastating blow. Although, the latest attacks — and by "attacks" I mean somehow-much-worse TikTok drags — might just be the most brutal. In a series of videos, Gen Z has declared side parts and skinny jeans dead. Done. Categorically uncool. To which I say, "D*mn. Are side parts and skinny jeans really that awful?"

Apparently so. In some videos, Gen Zers have joked they would choose literal, permanent death over wearing skinny jeans. Hyperbole or not, that's a strong take for fitted denim and a little extra side bang action. What makes either style so abhorrent? Is it the extra-emphasized butt? The apparently disgusting right side of my forehead? IMHO, neither skinny jeans nor side parts possess any one quality that makes them sickening in the bad way. They're just, frankly, old and a little tired, not unlike millennials themselves in the eyes of Gen Z, whether we'd like to admit it or not.

As the youngest millennials verge closer to their 30s — which, I should clarify, is not a bad thing and does not make one ancient — we understandably lose some of our sway in fashion and beauty trends to that of the generation currently coming of age. After all, Gen Z is quickly becoming the cohort to pack a wild punch in terms of spending power, with more and more brands bending over backward to win their dollars and adoration. It's also worth noting that fashion's cyclical nature has most recently unearthed classic tenets of '90s and early 2000s style. Sadly, this means that the skinny jeans and dramatic side parts of the early 2010s have simply reached their period of dramatic decline, and it might be a while before these trends experience their inevitable renaissance.

Such is the circle of fashion and beauty life. And I get it. Maybe this is a hot take, but did we all really — like, really — have a good time with skinny jeans? As a fat person, every part of the straight-up painful skinny jean experience — from shopping for them to putting them on to wearing them to taking them off — started hopeful and ended with me asking myself why the f*ck I put myself through that. I searched and searched for a magical butt to appear the moment I slid my skinny jeans on, like everyone said. Do you know what I saw? My still-concave butt covered by some baggy denim. I tried to reap the lauded benefit of easily tucking your skinny jeans into tall boots. Then, I thought, What's the point? So few brands even make tall boots for wider calves. Truth be told, I already have a drawer full of comfy, flexible, ultra-form-fitting bottoms. They're called leggings.

Don't come for me. I understand my disdain for skinny jeans is largely specific. I also know the baggier denim adored by Gen Zers aren't perfect alternatives either, particularly because fat bodies in baggy clothes are still so ruthlessly, unfairly judged. But after almost a year of forced isolation, introspection, and re-examination of everything I've ever known thanks to a raging global pandemic, forgive me if I'm ready to rid my closet of anything that makes me the slightest bit uncomfortable.

Quid pro quo, Gen Z. Quid pro quo. I agree we lay the skinny jeans to rest... in exchange for keeping side parts alive. A side part never hurt anyone. Full stop. Even the most dramatic side parts living only in the depths of an abandoned MySpace photo album, while embarrassing, didn't cut off your circulation. They cover pesky forehead pimples. They cover the side of my face I'm not exactly in love with. They can be messy and still look cute. They serve volume. Overall, side parts are easy — for multiple hairlines and face shapes. Perhaps that's why the old and tired among us (read: me) love them so much.

Middle parts, while beautiful, are a finicky beast to tackle. They take care, finessing, a little more styling in the mornings than I physically have the strength or the patience for. Too much volume, and you look like Prince Charming in Shrek. Too little volume, and you're a young colonial boy. Try to convert from a side part to a middle part, and you're quite literally left with either side of your head looking like the before and after shots for a volumizing shampoo, respectively. Put simply, the margin for error is large. And god damnit, after a year letting go of everything I've ever known, I'm not letting go of my side part.