“I haven’t worn jeans for two years, this is what I wear instead”

Posted by
Billie Bhatia
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Jeans are a universal wardrobe staple, but two years ago I decided to ditch them, here’s why. 

It’s hard to imagine a time in my life where jeans were at the centre of my wardrobe. In a professional capacity you can find me regularly waxing lyrical about how every woman needs a pair of straight-leg medium blue washed denim jeans, but the truth is I haven’t heeded my own advice for the best part of two years.

For most people, you would be hard-pressed to go a week without slipping your feet through a pair of jeans, wriggling them up your legs, and doing that little jump step when they are over your bum to settle the waist band in exactly the right position. I was that person. Not just on occasions, I was that person every day. Throughout my early twenties I had a uniform of sorts: jeans that weren’t quite skinny jeans but weren’t quite straight leg, a roll neck (in the summer this was swapped out for an oversized shirt) and a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths. Like every other person in the fashion industry, ex-Celine creative director, Phoebe Philo was my style icon. 

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It wasn’t the most exciting look, but it allowed me to quietly blend into the background and that was all I wanted from my wardrobe. Sure, there were some days where the struggle to get my jeans on had me battling the zipper as a writhed around on my bed like a flailing seal, but what else was I going to wear?

As a plus-size woman trying to put my most-stylish foot forward without drawing much attention to myself, my options were limited. Or at least I thought they were. Jeans seemed like the sensible and obvious option, they were a classic staple and almost every plus-size brand had an offering of these to shop from. Being comfortable wasn’t my biggest priority, dressing like everyone else was, so it didn’t matter too much to me that my jeans dug into my stomach and gaped at the back. I got over the fact they sagged at my knees and the colour faded with every wash. That wasn’t important, what was important was they were my best chance of fitting in. 

The year is 2016 and I have yet to ditch the denim.

After years of accepting this discomfort as part of my daily routine, I broke with my style rules for fashion week. (An aside: everyone breaks with their rules for fashion week, often to little success. But there is this inescapable pressure to transform yourself into something you have never been before that terrorises every fashion editor every single season. More on that another time.) 

In a bold and unchartered move, I decided to wear a tube skirt – a black one with a slit up the side and a lace trim – to London Fashion Week. In what I considered to be a wild turn of events, I had voluntarily put on a form-fititng item of clothing to not only be seen in public in but to wear in front of hundreds of ready and waiting photographers. In an even wilder turn of event, the skirt was so comfortable it bolstered my confidence more than I could have ever imagined.

The skirt’s elasticated waist meant I wasn’t left with red lines across my body at the end of the day, its fitted nature gave me a shape I wasn’t repulsed by and when teamed with one of my oversized rollnecks, the overall look was surprisingly stylish. A revelation.

A few months later and I had changed the way I dressed completely. My eight pairs of jeans (I am nothing if not a repeat buyer) now lay at the bottom of my wardrobe buried under every tube skirt with a slit up the side (an essential addition) I could find. In need of more jeans substitutes I hunted down ‘fun’ trousers – almost all of which sported an elasticated waistband too – a leather pair, a snakeskin pair of flares, trousers with giant bell bottoms, ones with ruffle hem, and pleated trousers. A few tailored pairs also made the cut, but they were wide-legged and room to counter the fitted waist.     

Then came the chuck-on-dress. Now, a firm favourite. Sensational really, a chuck-on dress is a single item of clothing that you quite literally throw over your head. There are no fastening, no annoying zips or ties, no shimmying or flailing required to get it over your body. You don’t need to consider what to wear with it! A one stop shop of effortless style. With similar ferocity to my tube skirt consumption, I snapped up every throw on dress that came in my size: midi dresses, maxis, smock styles, cottagecore prairie iterations and floral printed offerings.

You might think this attitude towards jeans rest solely on the fact I am a plus-size woman, but this is not the case. Gemma Crisp, Stylist’s email content director has the opposite body shape to me and shares the same sentiment. “I gave up on jeans about 4-5 years ago - at 5ft3 with very short legs, I finally came to the realisation that they just don’t suit me. I’d tried ankle-skimming skinnies, I’d tried floor-grazing flares, I’d tried high-waisted, low-waisted, stretch, no stretch. Me and jeans just weren’t to be. So I stopped throwing my money away on pairs that ended up piled at the back of my shelves and instead turned my attention to trousers - and found so much more variety. In my wardrobe you’ll find black slim-cut with a tuxedo stripe, drop-crotch covered in navy blue sequins, burgundy leather with zipped ankles… and that’s just the start. Jeans are officially dead to me now.”

Gemma chooses fun skirts and trousers over jeans.

Now, with a two-year hiatus, I can’t imagine wearing jeans. Our love affair (or rather toleration for each other) is over and I can’t say I’m all that sad about it. Instead, I’ll be adding these to my basket now and forever more. 

  • H&M


    A chuck on dress works for all occasion not just day-time picnics and strolls around the park. Try H&M+’s pink floral dress for your next evening out. 

    Shop dress, £34.99, H&M+

  • MM6

    mm6 leather trousers

    An investment buy, these MM6 leather trousers will become a wardrobe staple. Wears yours now with a crips white T-shirt and in the winter with a chunky knitted jumper. 

    Shop trousers, £315, MM6 

  • Topshop

    Topshop skirt

    I swear by a side-split tube skirt for both casual and dressed up occasions. In the day you’ll find my wearing this with oversized sweatshirt and in the evening with an off-the-shoulder top. 

    Shop skirt, £29.99, Topshop 

  • River Island

    River Island

    Add a splash of colour to your summer wardrobe via River Island’s easy-to-wear dress. Team yours with trainers and a basket bag. 

    Shop dress, £40, River Island

  • Asos Curve

    Asos Curve

    Asos Curve is regularly my go-to for all non jeans related clothing. These pleated trousers are the perfect transitional piece to team now with a roomy white shirt and in months to come with an oversized grey rollneck. 

    Shop trousers, £22, Asos Curve

  • Mango

    For an effortless look try head to toe neutrals. I’ll be wearing mine with layers of gold necklaces. 

    Shop skirt, £49.99, Mango 

Images: Courtesy of brands / Instagram 

Lead image: Moeez Ali / Gemma Crisp