Size matters. But if you don’t have it, just trick people into thinking you do with a little cleverly constructed fabric. That’s the promise of the new Body by Calvin Klein Jeans—retail price, $79.50—with their “body-defining fit for an enhanced profile.” With some padded-fly trickery, Body Jeans presumably gives guys the optical illusion of more horsepower underneath their hood.
As a loyal wearer of androgynous skinny jeans for five years now, I’m almost insulted that Calvin Klein thinks I can’t handle this situation on my own. Yes, I saw the ads in Union Square with a greased-up Eva Mendes and Jamie Dornan rubbing up against each other and calling attention to their, um, respective centers of gravity. I even saw Mr. Dornan’s embarrassingly large package. But I was skeptical. Even after a source at Calvin Klein said the product was doing “really well.”
It was off to the Calvin Klein Collection for some clarity.
I stormed through the glass doors on Madison Avenue like a man possessed. (Well, actually, a very kind doorman opened them for me.) Calvin Klein has spearheaded the battle of the bulge in its underwear department for years. But jeans are something different altogether. I pulled a pair off the shelf and laid them out by the window to get a better view.
“It definitely boosts things,” said David Cook, who works at Calvin Klein Collection. We stared at the jeans together like two forensic scientists. Mr. Cook explained to me that the jeans are geared to a younger set.
This makes sense. During the summer of 2009, hipster fashion—of which the skinny jean is perhaps the greatest symbol—became the property of the mainstream media. The New York Times discussed hipsters’ beer bellies. Time ran a you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me article about hipsters being “ripe for parody.” Even The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy piece about the plight of fashion-conscious men wearing tight pants.
The Calvin Klein Body Jeans, with its emphasis on male enhancement, suggests that the entire point of wearing ultra-tight pants is not sartorial trendsetting, but really to show the world whatcha workin’ with—part of a counterculture ethos left over from Robert Plant’s spray-painted-on jeans in the late ’60s.
I inspected the pants more closely: A dark wash, with wrinkles around the pockets, leading right to the crotch, an extra layer of fabric around the fly, creating a kind of
“Would you wear these?” I asked Mr. Cook.
“I lack a butt,” he said, and slapped his behind. “When I tried them on, it was like a cliff back there.”
He should have tried the women’s jeans, designed to enhance your tuchis instead of your schmeckel. But isn’t the entire point of the unisex skinny jean’s assimilation into mainstream fashion to assign the jeans a gender? No longer would men have to walk with great discretion through the women’s section to buy pants. They could just go to Calvin Klein, manhood intact.
Still skeptical, I headed to the cavernous halls of Macy’s. There was another picture of Mr. Dornan, greased up and giving me a hard time. I stared once again at the slogan: “An enhanced profile.”
“The first time I heard that, I thought it was a joke!” said Ray Lopez, a Macy’s sales attendee. “I was like, is that why they’re selling?”
Mr. Lopez confessed to buying a pair himself.
“When I first tried them on, it was like, ‘Whoa! Do other people notice this?’”
But that day, he was wearing some pretty baggy pants.
“You feel more confident,” Mr. Lopez said. “You have people who wear the skinny jean, and the only thing you see is the bulge. These work with the whole body.”
And then: “Would you like to try a pair?”
“Sure,” I said. An instrumental, smooth jazz version of the Beatles’ “Come Together” began playing on the speakers as I walked to the dressing room, clutching the Body Jeans like a secret.
They were a breakthrough! Such comfort, such support! And yes, my confidence was bigger! It looked bigger, at least.