Friday, May 13, 2011


The other day I caught Hitchcock’s Rear Window on the telly, which was fabulous for many reasons, not least the chance to
ogle Grace Kelly’s outfits. In one scene, she slips off a ladylike green jacket
with bracelet length sleeves to reveal a backless white halter-top and a sexy
expanse of Rivera-tanned skin. Then she nips into the kitchen to warm some brandy. Now that’s style to admire.

But it’s not all plane fashion sailing. The film’s final scene loses the
costume plot. The drama is over; the murderous neighbour has been caught,
and Grace’s character Lisa is at last able to relax at home with her man,
Jimmy Stewart (who, as wheelchair bound photographer L.B. Jeffries, spends
the whole picture in his striped pajamas). It is time to regroup, calm down,
or in contemporary parlance: chillax. But what to wear to do so? PJs, like our
Jimmy? Not Grace.

A peignoir perhaps? With a marabou trim? Or a couture evening gown, but with
her high heels kicked elegantly under the sofa? Grace/Lisa is reading a copy
of Harper’s Bazaar, which seems absolutely believable. She is reclining regally
in a window seat (believable too - for this was 1954 and within a year she
would be Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco). She is wearing a red
shirt and jeans. JEANS! Outrageous! Implausible! Frankly it’s just plain silly.

Now I know Grace is acting, and that as an actor it is her job to pretend, but
it all ended with me feeling rather duped. Grace would no more don denim than
she would burlap. Grace represents supreme chic – as denim is its sworn enemy.

Jeans can be many things: tough, rebellious, comfortable, the appropriate attire
for cowboys at rodeos, the favoured attire of middle-aged women doing the garden,
the dressed down choice of marketing managers and art directors. These days jeans
are ubiquitous, but they are not chic.

I know because I’ve tried every shape of jean known to womankind, and I’ve never looked like Grace in Rear Window. Jeans are evil. There, I’ve said it. Laugh!
Heckle! Write to complain. I don’t care. I speak the truth.

Boot cut jeans make me look like an escapee from a 1990s sitcom. Skinnies, like a
baby seal. Boyfriend jeans make me look like a sack of potatoes.
Or a potato farmer. Or, worst of all, a woman who has eaten too many potatoes, most of them smothered with mayonnaise, and now packing that most unwelcome accessory: the muffin top. Jeans are the enemy. And no amount of ironing them down the middle will render them a valid alternative to tailored pants.

Deep down we all know this, just as we known the calamity of stepping out with
frayed hems, or worse still paying extra for them. Those carefully distressed
designer jeans from Japan serve only one purpose: to make skateboarders laugh at
us in parks.

If you’re 18 with a hot body, go for your life. Cut off your denims and wear them
with a bikini top. Giggle at the mums squeezed into Sass and Bides and the dads trying to look cool in their slogan-strewn Ksubis. Enjoy it while it lasts. But
if you’re a grown up, perhaps it’s time to consider growing up, and buying a smart frock. Grace Kelly no more wore jeans than she washed up those brandy balloons when Hitchcock called “Cut!”


  1. I think I have been chuckling so hard all the way through this impassioned essay that I may need to go and get myself a warmed brandy to settle down.

    Just beautifully said!

  2. Ha! This is a great post ... and I must admit that costuming issue never occurred to me before ... I wonder if that means that I'm beyond all sense of stylistic help? ;)

    You are completely right about jeans ... I love them for certain things, but they are never going to be as elegant or chic as a gorgeous frock.