Back when I bought the jeans featured here, I had written a rant or two against the then (and still) prevalent hipster practice of buying gourmet denim, wearing it every day, with everything, and never washing it. The internet is rife with blogs and websites dedicated solely to nerdly discussions of how not to clean your pants, but I'm not having it. I like clean pants. So here's a brief rundown of what happens to them after two years of regular occasional wear, and regular washing:
photo: not mine, heisted from the internet.
In digging back two years into this blog, I'm actually embarrassed at the photos I saw fit to print here. This photo shows much more clearly what my Wrangler 13MWZ Original Cowboy Cut jeans looked like when I bought them. Rigid as wood, very dark in that distinctive grey tinted navy we call indigo. Straight legs, rivets and all, I wore them "raw" for a few weeks. There are few things as uncomfortable as new raw jeans, but there is a special (perceived) self satisfaction that comes with putting up with uncomfortably hard to wear pants. I've gotten over that since, but I still have the jeans.One year in, they looked like this.I'll admit, at this point they had reached a kind of too bright blueberry hue, but I stuck with them. For one, they were beginning to be soft and comfortable in a way that only well worn jeans that belong to only you can. For another, I knew they'd eventually reach that excellent shade of light blue that can only be achieved with wearing and washing your own jeans. That, and I'm cheap, and new jeans are the last thing I care to worry about.
Today, two years and likely one hundred washed later, they're only getting better. The color is nearing what I consider to be the perfect fade. There's cool looking wear patterns on the knees. They're stiff when they're freshly cleaned, but given a minute or two, they conform to my shape and become perfectly comfortable in that way that only your own old jeans can. Unlike they're unwashed counterparts, they feel fresh and clean, instead of grimy and shiny with filth. Honestly, I've heard it so many times and read it so many times and even believed it a long time ago myself, but I just don't see the appeal in not washing your pants. Authenticity be damned, as I remember it, this what jeans always looked like when I was a kid, and any 19th century coal miner would have been glad at the chance to have some clean pants. Not washing your jeans in the interest of well curated heritage Americana is so much hipster revisionist thinking.
The older I get, I find that my take on how to wear jeans has changed over the years and begun to settle into a new norm.I read recently that part of being well dressed means being dressed for the occasion. I spend the earlier part of most days dropping off/picking up kids at school, grocery shopping, and hunting in filthy thrift shops, so I actually wear dungarees frequently. Gone are the days of pairing them with punk t-shirts and Adidas sneakers. Gone too are the days of wearing them with jacket and tie, though occasionally they do wind up combined with a tweed sports coat. These days a soft old oxford and a crew neck sweater do the trick. Bean boots, Bean mocs, penny loafers, pebble grain oxfords, and every now and then brown suede split toes are all good, adult choices for footwear. I even manage to take it up notch from time to time, go for the Continental look:
It's possible that a silk ascot will always be a pretentious and silly thing on an American, but worn just peeking out of a cotton crew neck, and worn with jeans, it may just be almost acceptable...almost.
A Donegal tweed cap ($1.99, thrift store), cashmere scarf in Black Watch tartan ($3.99, thrift store), brown leather wool lined gloves ($2.00, thrift store) and Barbour "Liddesdale" quilted jacket ($7.99, thrift store), and classic vintage Ray-Ban Wayfarers (generous gift) are all perfectly casual enough to wear with jeans, but finished and grown-up enough to make you feel like, you know, a grown up, or something.
I predict that washed and faded look will be coming back soon, along with pleated pants and properly fitted jackets. Not that I care much for fashion, but they've been feeding us tight/short/skinny/don't-wash-your-jeans for too long now. Time for an about face so they can force people to abandon everything and buy a bunch of new stuff.
Worn, old, comfortable, clean jeans are a real classic, and classics never die.