Bright Young Skinny Things

What’s the skinny on skinny jeans for men?

Photo by Rob Sydor /

In nature, colors communicate: Red means danger and avian mates are selected based on the hue of their feathers. In fact, when it comes to birds, the males almost always display brighter plumage and greater ornamentation than their female counterparts; think ducks, peacocks and birds of paradise. Charles Darwin concluded that sexual dichromatism (the color differences between sexes in species) is caused by an evolutionary-honed female preference for bright colors in males.

So, what about us men? What statements do we make with our clothing? Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in young men; men are not only wearing their pants tight, fitted or “skinny,” but they come in purple, yellow and red — colors once considered off limits to males of older generations. I decided to try this out for myself.

Consciously or unconsciously, fashion choices are often based on sex appeal. So first I thought I’d ask women what they think about the skinny pants-in-many-colors trend in the opposite gender. Alysen Kaser is a “thirty-something.” She works near the UO campus and sees men wearing skinny jeans almost daily. “I think fashion trends recycle through the years,” Kaser says, “and right now the pop of color we are seeing more of — neon — is reminiscent of 1980s fashion.”

“Colored denim has spread into men’s fashion,” says Janelle Derven, the manager at Buffalo Exchange on 5th Avenue in Eugene. “Bright colors are very popular for this spring, and men’s wear is becoming a lot more playful, even with the basics.”

“Personally, I think men look best in what they’re confident in,” Derven adds. “The way you feel in your clothes plays a big role in the way you appear to others. I appreciate it when a guy tries to incorporate current trends into his wardrobe, but it’s not for everyone!”

Referring to slim-fit jeans, Kaser says, “Leaving a little up to the imagination goes a long way. Skin tight, spandex-enhanced stretchy denim on a man is not my thing. Plus, they look really uncomfortable.”

Claire Dickerson, a UO sophomore, likes the trend. “It’s kind of an edgy look: maybe mysterious, interesting, intimidating, a little ‘bad boy,’” she says, adding that a guy who wears skinny jeans might “give you good music advice.” Duly noted.

Kaser, Dickerson and Derven all agree that skinny jeans are a young man’s look. I ask Kaser if, at 36, I’m too old to wear them. “YES!” responds Kaser. “The skinny jean ‘man’ should be younger than 30,” Kaser says, “with a really skinny body type. If you don’t fit into those categories — it’s a no-go, dudes!”

Never one to take no for an answer, I set out to try some skinny jeans for myself. I found the perfect canary yellow pair at Buffalo Exchange. Are skinny jeans the look for me? You be the judge.