Bad Economy = Tight and Tapered Jeans

This is just a random fashion observation I’ve made recently concerning the tightness of jeans in relation to the overall condition of the economy.

Maybe Alyx from LOLFed will point out where I’m wrong (she knows this stuff), but here’s what I’ve seen:

Joey Ramone

Lates 70’s to Early 80’s
The first era of tight and tapered blue jeans I can remember was the late 70’s and early 80’s.  This was a time of major inflation battles as well as a nasty environment for unemployment.  It was also a time of tight jeans.

Picture Joey Ramone or the cast of Family Ties, ankles of their jeans tight enough to be cutting off the circulation.  Other examples would be the rise of Jordache Jeans during that era (supertight) as well as the silhouette of the Levi’s 501 jeans back then (they’ve since been updated).

Z Cavaricci Pants

1990 to 1992
Following the 1982 peak in unemployment, things went along pretty smoothly until 1987, a year in which the stock market famously crashed.  The economy was not terrible, however, until we got into the savings and loan crisis which was at its worst in the 1990-1991 time frame.  Incidentally, this coincided with the rise of the uber-tapered Z Cavaricci pant, an item of clothing so hideous, it almost defies description, but I will try.

Z Cavariccis took over many regions of the country in the early 90’s and had a cut similar to the genie trousers made famous by MC Hammer.  They were high-waisted, featured the brand’s name on the fly (I’m serious), ultra-baggy throughout the thigh and most importantly, they tapered at a mind-bogglingly extreme angle to the ankle.  As if this weren’t enough, as I recall, they were meant to be rolled even tighter at the bottoms.  Your legs looked like two ice cream cones standing next to each other if you pulled this off satisfactorily.  Thankfully, Grunge came along to wipe these things off the map.

Inaddition to MC Hammer, this tapered jean look could also be seen on Vanilla Ice, the New Kids On The Block and every cheeseball I went to junior high school with.

2001 to 2002
The recession of 2001-2002 seemed to be primarily a corporate one, and in my opinion, unemployment never really got carried away enough to have had a big impact on fashion.  Wide-legged or bootcut jeans continued to sell, and nothing memorably tapered or tight made its way into the stores.  I’m referring to this slowdown as the exception that proves the rule.  Because it’s my site and that’s how I get down.

Kanye in Tight Jeans

2008 – ?
This latest recession (that we’re still enjoying) has been the scene of an explosion in tight jeans and other pants.  Go to a mall in a somewhat cosmopolitan area, you will not see a single female under the age of 35 not wearing the semmingly government-issued uniform of tight leggings punctuated by giant boots.  This does not bother me, but here’s what does…ostensibly straight males wearing the skinniest, tightest jeans ever manufactured on earth.

More often that not, these ultra-tight jeans can be seen sagging below the knee, possibly hanging from a white leather belt.  What’s even more notable is that this style has been picked up in the Hip Hop world, previously the Ground Zero for baggy everything for decades.  The fact that this trend, which originated with the Williamsburg hipster crowd, hit the mainstream in 2008, exactly as the credit crisis began to work its destructive magic on the economy, is too coincidental to be coincidence.

We’re seeing this look on the emo kids (unsurprising) as well as rappers Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Lupe Fisaco.  Tupac and Biggie are rolling in their graves.


I’m hoping the economy improves in 2010 for many reasons, including the belief that the skinny jean trend will fade away like a bad dream once our adolescent males have something better to do than sit around dreaming of ways they can look like chicks.

Until then, just like during the lean years between 1979-1982 and 1990 to 1992, we may be in for a bit more of the latest skinny jean era.  Avert your eyes.

Read Also:

Fashion Meets Finance: Gold is THE Trend (TRB)

Return of the Flannel Shirt: Recession Kids Get Their Grunge On (TRB)

Tags: , , , ,

This content, which contains security-related opinions and/or information, is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in any manner as professional advice, or an endorsement of any practices, products or services. There can be no guarantees or assurances that the views expressed here will be applicable for any particular facts or circumstances, and should not be relied upon in any manner. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment.

The commentary in this “post” (including any related blog, podcasts, videos, and social media) reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Ritholtz Wealth Management employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded the views of Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. or its respective affiliates or as a description of advisory services provided by Ritholtz Wealth Management or performance returns of any Ritholtz Wealth Management Investments client.

References to any securities or digital assets, or performance data, are for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others.

Wealthcast Media, an affiliate of Ritholtz Wealth Management, receives payment from various entities for advertisements in affiliated podcasts, blogs and emails. Inclusion of such advertisements does not constitute or imply endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation thereof, or any affiliation therewith, by the Content Creator or by Ritholtz Wealth Management or any of its employees. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. For additional advertisement disclaimers see here:

Please see disclosures here.

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web
  1. Unicc commented on Jan 30

    … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here to that Topic: […]