The Phenomenon of Bare Ankles in Winter

“Amidst the cold, the rain and the occasional wet snow covering the ground, there they are, taunting or haunting us. Bare ankles in Winter.”

“Don’t mind him, crossing the road at a red light. He’s got his ankles out, he’s a cool dude.” – my dad, highly sarcastic, expressing his road rage towards what could only be described in the fashion world as a ‘classic f*ckboy’ crossing the road and not giving two flying ones about almost being run over (I’m serious, he didn’t even flinch) in January, when it was cold as shit.

When you’re born and raised in Central Europe common sense dictates that when Winter rolls around (and in a lot of cases that happens early on, in November – or at least it used to, before we screwed up the climate and now it happens in February, dragging well into March) you bundle up. And by bundle up I mean you grab the thickest coat you can find with three layers of sweaters underneath, tights under your jeans and warm boots. Inevitably making you feel like the Michelin man. But hey, you can make it look fashionable – have you noticed the big coat obsession taking over the World lately? – and still be warm, avoiding runny noses and God forbid, pneumonia.

Fashion sense, however, dictates that skin is mandatory. Whether this trend arises from the ‘olden days’ when showing a little leg was sexy bordering on scandalous or simply from being a daredevil, risking arthritis when you’re older or serious illness right now, is yet to be determined. Not to be a hypocrite, I too hop on the bandwagon when spring rolls around. Sun’s out, ankles out, ladies. But it’s purely out of convenience – rolling up my jeans makes them look like actual skinny jeans (which when you’re a size 40 and up are impossible to find without the bottoms flaring out instead of fitting to your leg) and shows off my high-top sneakers. My friend also pointed out that low socks are more comfortable than high ones because of the compression. A solid argument.

I’m not delusional, in the warmer months, I’m probably part of the big crowd which serves as the laughing stock for those who don’t particularly like to see that specific part of the body exposed. Instagram’s featuring sneaky pictures of slivers of skin shining just between the hem of a dark jean and top of a chunky sneaker (a trend to be questioned at another time) have sprung like mushrooms after rain. I’ll admit, they’re pretty funny, especially when capturing this particular trend during Winter. Amidst the cold, the rain and the occasional wet snow covering the ground, there they are, taunting or haunting us. Bare ankles in Winter. What I’ve noticed recently though, is that in Winter, this trend seems to be popular mostly with the male portion of our population. Jeans so skinny they’ll likely be the cause of a decrease in their ability to reproduce go hand in hand with brand sneakers and exposed ankles. I’ve risen the debate among my male friends recently, asking them why they think guys do it. One of them pointed out the lack of exposed underwear (low riding jeans, a trend that came from prisons where it was a sign that inmates were willing to have sexual intercourse) and how bare ankles seem to have taken its place, another said that if you watch carefully, it’s only a certain demographic that does it, implying it’s an age thing rather than a fashion statement. One of them bravely decided to try it, rolling up his pants. It only lasted for a hot minute before he declared that he feels exposed and vulnerable. When confronting a guy with bare ankles the answer was “because it looks cool”.

My dudes, my ladies, it might look cool in Summer if you know how to properly style it but I assure you that in Winter the only way it looks cool is the synonym to cold. It looks like your mom never taught you how to dress yourself and it looks like you really want a one week stay in the hotel Hospital, all expenses paid curtesy of the flu.

But perhaps a more prominent question than why to bare your ankles in Winter is: what’s next? The early 2000s have seen us through the bellybutton era, crop tops gave us the slice of midriff, we’ve been through the cold shoulder mania – is the next big thing high socks and Bermuda shorts, baring the knee? Perhaps a bit of toe on an otherwise fully covered bod? Which part of skin is the next in line to see the light of day after being neglected for too long? And will the trend continue into the Fall/Winter season as well? More importantly: is it going to look cool enough to risk catching a cold for it in the name of fashion – and if it isn’t, is it even a trend?

Maja Podojsteršek

Graphic design: Ana Žnidaršič