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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Pair shares tips for finding, wearing denim

By Melissa May White
Special to The Advertiser

Liliha resident Tiare Schiller, left, and Adrienne Barnes of Kaimuki model their skinny jeans at Bubbies ice cream parlor on University Avenue. The stylish pair recently shopped around in Honolulu stores in search of the ultimate skinny jeans. Among the trends they found is that black is back for denim.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Adrienne Barnes and Tiare Schiller used their newfound expertise to provide these helpful hints for would-be skinny-jeans aficionadas:

Get the stretch: Most styles contain 2 percent Lycra or elastin for stretch. This, combined with a lowered waistline (hitting about 3 inches below the navel) makes them much more forgiving than their 1980s counterparts.

To bunch or not to bunch? Bunching around the ankle modernizes the look and adds height. A tapered ankle looks elegant, particularly on the long-legged. The cuffs can also be tucked into boots or folded.

Black is back: Black denim is back in a big way, in both matte and faded washes. The newest incarnation is a light gray. The best blues are deep indigo washes with very little fading.

Hold the bling: Embellishments are either absent or understated. Look for interest in the pocket details and front and inseam stitching. Zippered ankles are also a hit.

Amp up the volume: Wear skinnies with a little volume on top for balance. A hip-length top, tunic, or lightweight sweater with a belt makes a perfect accompaniment.

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J Brand Slim Fit 12-inch Pencil Leg ($165), Shasa Emporium, Kahala Mall (735-5122). "The design is simple and flattering, not over-engineered." Adrienne Barnes

Old Navy Special Edition Skinny Ultra Low Jeans ($39.50), Old Navy, Ala Moana Center (951-8526). "I like the zipper detail at the ankle. You can let them bunch for a slouchier fit or roll up the cuff." Tiare Schiller

Killah Twiddle Trousers ($129), Miss Sixty, Ala Moana Center (946-6800). "These hit perfectly at the ankle, and the fading is well-placed." T.S.

Siwy Hannah Slim Crop Jean ($194), Bamboo Sky (941-0033). "The wide pocket placement and curved back yoke seam enhances the derriere, which can be good or bad!" A.B.

Chip & Pepper ($198), Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center (951-8887). "The fit is phenomenal, and I like the subtle embellishment on the left thigh. These would be my going-out jeans." A.B.

Miss Sixty J-Lot ($199), Miss Sixty. "The details are what make these really special, from the zippered ankles to the stud details and wing-shaped button closure." A.B.

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Anyone who's read a magazine, frequented a Honolulu nightclub, or visited a mall lately knows skinny jeans are back.

Their resurrection can evoke nostalgia or dread. Members of either camp might think: Is this a return to the days when 30 minutes and a pair of grip pliers were required to squeeze into jeans?

Cue Adrienne Barnes, an environmental scientist, and Tiare Schiller, a clothing designer, two stylish twentysomethings who recently plundered Honolulu stores in the hope of demystifying the modern skinny jean, and yes, finding the perfect pair.

Barnes and Schiller's styles are formulated from distinct, yet equally sophisticated, recipes.

Paying the price

Barnes builds her wardrobe from polished pieces with clean, tailored lines, offsetting them with colorful statement pieces. Her penchant for eclectic, well-constructed pieces often comes with a price tag. She budgets about $200 when shopping for jeans, but she also adeptly combines pricier pieces with vintage finds, particularly graphic 1960s pieces from her mother's closet.

With skinny jeans, Barnes knows exactly what she is after: "I'm attracted to dark, uniform washes with clean finishing around the pockets and seams. I'm not into overdone embellishments, wear or fading. I'm looking for a longer style with just the right amount of bunching at the ankle to wear with a pair of boots or heels."

She cites Kate Moss and the 1980s as her influences. "I always think of early Calvin Klein ads with Brooke Shields. They portrayed denim as feminine and sexy."

On the cover, Barnes models her favorite skinnies, indigo-hued Wrangler Lillington jeans ($160) from Neiman Marcus, paired with a Ralph Lauren belted shirt-dress and Amalfi leopard-print heels. "The design is so flattering that you don't always need to cover the waistline with a hip-grazing top," she said.

Fashion on a budget

Schiller often frequents thrift and vintage shops, searching for pieces to add to her closet or re-work for her clothing line, Fiume. She describes her style as "simple but inventive," mixing pieces from the 1960s and 1980s. She often chooses a subdued palette to showcase one standout piece.

Schiller's mantra is fashion on a budget: "I rarely pay more than $30 for a piece of clothing; I just don't think it's necessary."

Her ideal pair of skinny jeans has ample stretch and bunches slightly at the knee, the length tapering to the ankle. "I do lots of walking and biking, so I plan to wear them with flats."

Her primary influence is "Harajuku street style," although for skinny jeans, she said, "I consider Audrey Hepburn the agent provocateur of skinny pants."

Schiller found her perfect pair of gray Levi's 504 Slouchy Skinny Jeans at Sears in Ala Moana Center ($34.99). On the cover, she models them with a vintage top and slouchy leather boots found at a thrift store.

"The funky patch pockets on these Levi's add design interest," she said. "And best of all, I didn't have to compromise my budget!"