Today, the Times deplores men's "mom jeans." My initial thought was, who cares? Then I saw that professional I'm-Not-Even-Trying-Anymore crank Liz Jones had declared that she "can't stand men who wear baseball caps," so, probably her. But, seriously, non-crazies:
Of course, we all know the middle-aged man jeans to which Guy Trebay, the Times style writer, refers. My boyfriend calls these "dad-rock" jeans (specifically referring to a pair of $20 Lees he wears 90% of the time) and the resulting, roomy-yet-neatly-cinched posterior view as "dad-rock ass." My own dad, it's true, does rock these, (if "rock" can be applied to wearing something with a Purina Dog Chow tee-shirt and a Snuggie) when not in an ancient and ill-advised pair that dates to the late 70s. Yes, many men's jeans are bad - either conspicuously lame or conspicuously effortful, and this is confusing to many of us women, to whom it seems like men, with their lack of curves, should just be able to throw on a pair of 501s.
But really, who minds? Obviously, Liz Jones, because she needs a column every week and because in any case she seems to have strong, arbitrary and angry views about most human-being-related phenomena, including men. But as to the rest of us: do we really mind what jeans guys wear? Or anything else, for that matter? Like Liz Jones, do we have pet peeves that can't be overcome? Now, in saying this, I feel distinctions must be made between "indicators" and "prejudices." I might, for instance, see a guy in one of those blue shirts with the white collar and think "I would probably not date that guy" but a) I am trying to get over this sort of thinking (my now-fiance wore a full waterproof "rain suit" on our first date, just after I started to be aggressively open-minded) and b)I could probably stand to learn a little something about bond-trading or whatever and c) that guy actually wouldn't be into me so it's moot and d)this implies no particular disapprobation for the garment itself, which is kind of pleasing in a Dresden-ish sort of way.
Are people obsessed with men's jeans because there's something dissonant about the contrast between their workaday antecedents and today's pricey foppery? Maybe, even if it is a double-standard. It's bad enough in women, on whom it's forced by the plethora of choices and the actual necessity of finding out what "works." But a man inexplicably burdening himself with this is confusing, and what we don't understand, we fear. There was a particularly peculiar piece in the Financial Times' "How to Spend It" insert (look, it comes with the subscription and it's worth it for the guilty pleasure of "Perfect Weekend") a few months ago on one dandy coming to terms with wearing denim. It was, essentially, a four page essay on a middle-aged man discovering designer jeans and amassing a large and expensive denim wardrobe. It was horrible, and it was compelling. Not merely because of the time, effort and money put into the enterprise, but because, well, dads wear dad-rock jeans! A fixation on pockets and washes is not one of the gifts of youth I'd bequeath on my worst enemy.
Pursuant of this, I asked my dad where his jeans came from. "Don't know. Your mother buys them," he said. I really think this is the angle the Times missed.