Even through the last several years, as Hollywood’s leading men became progressively preoccupied with fashion, Robert Pattinson is still a sartorial hobgoblin. While he might throw on a hunky-goth ensemble for a movie premiere or a tweed skirt if he’s contractually obligated to sit front row at a Dior show (he’s been the face of Dior Homme since 2013), the actor’s day-to-day wardrobe is trollishly normal, increasingly daddish, and perhaps even intentionally detached. He tends to emit a “when they go high, we go low” attitude towards fashion trends: If the fellas are clamoring for five-inch inseams, RPatz is wearing goofily baggy cargo shorts.

While visiting an upmarket cafe-grocery in Los Angeles this week, Pattinson wore what most would consider to be an unremarkable outfit: a tan corduroy jacket, a graphic T-shirt, and jeans, which he accessorized with a logoless trucker hat and Adidas trainers. (Even RPatz’s sneaker preferences skew low-key.) But for those who have been eyeing the proverbial weathervane to catch even the slightest shifts in the pants-trend forecast, you may notice how closely the hems of RPatz’s pants hew to his ankles—how directly the denim fabric skims the actor’s calves and thighs. Like seeing a long-lost friend (or foe), could they be…a pair of true slim-fit jeans?

To be sure, an isolated instance of Robert Pattinson taking himself out to lunch in a pair of skinny-ish jeans does not a reverse-trend make. More realistically, the familiar sight of a 37-year-old man in slim-fit denim feels like an affirmation that most men who came of age in the tapered-pants era (which is to say: guys currently in their 30s and 40s) never totally stopped wearing them to begin with.

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Robert Pattinson in 2009, wearing an outfit he might still wear today.

James Devaney

In a recent New York Times Magazine article about the return of big pants, writer Jonah Weiner noted how, for the better part of the 21st century, slim-fit pants felt like “a structural fact of existence”—an intrinsically constrictive silhouette that became “common currency across generations, demographics and body types.” The dimming of the tapered-leg trouser as the premiere menswear silhouette dipped significantly around 2020, in alignment with the broader soft-clothes implications of pandemic lockdown; jeans became ampler, slouchier, and more flared. But now, Weiner conceded, “some people think skinny is bound to make a swift comeback—slim pants were surprisingly well-represented on designer runways in January.”

It’s likely that Pattinson’s slim jeans, rather than being a bellwether for a full-on skinny-fit revival, are an indication that whatever style of pants was cool when you were 25 will remain cool to you forever. Generations from now, we may well see 35-year-old Zoomers stubbornly stepping out in mile-wide denim even as their Gen Alpha counterparts have fully embraced some unforeseeably diabolical new form of skin-tight dungarees.

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