Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Shopping For Jeans

I've been thinking ( 0r rather, reminiscing ) about jeans, which I must confess is something I've not done much before. The following is what has surfaced .

My friend Pete, at the age of 15, first introduced me to the concept of the Levis 501 ( or was it 601?) and the cold bath 'shrink to fit' ritual. I was amazed. And impressed ( and he had the first Who album).
I never followed suit. I obviously wasn't serious enough. I think my first jeans were Lee. And then a couple of modish short-lived brands. And then some Wranglers. At one stage some OshKosh dungarees ( well, I was running a wholefood cafe).
In the mid 70's , when I rediscovered clothes that fitted I came across Fiorucci  jeans. And they did sizes to every inch; not just 30, 32, 34, but 30, 31, 32. Best fitting jeans I ever owned.
Then I remember some Pepe jeans fitted well. But the rest is all a bit of a  blur of indifferently fitting Levis, Wranglers, Lee Cooper. I sort of took my eye off the sartorial ball ( otherwise known as reaching middle-age).
A few years ago I started to make a bit more of an effort and came across some Paul Smith velvet jeans. They didn't fit as well as the Fioruccis , and my sons weren't entirely convinced of their appropriateness, but I liked them. And then some Valentino black denim ( but I had to remove the back pocket label- just a  bit too flash for my liking)
Currently my badly fitting Levis are consigned to gardening duty. But I do have two pairs of jeans that fit, and I'm happy to wear.
I am told that 7 For All Mankind were a fashionable label last year, which is when I bought them. I was visiting friends in the USA and said that I wanted some new jeans. A modest ambition. So the charming Ms T took me to Barneys LA. Well, that's what I call shopping. The terribly nice young assistant asked what I was looking for. They appeared to have countless brands and styles. I said I wanted dark blue denim, straight leg, and no extraneous ornamentation.He delivered six pairs for me to try. I chose the ones that I felt fitted best, which was confirmed by my shopping companion. It was only then that I looked at the label ( and the price). They have subsequently prompted the occasional compliment.
My second pair were purchased more recently, from Uniqlo, the Japanese retail brand with a couple of branches in London. A completely different experience, close to being challenging, and certainly quite hard work. Primarily because this is a youthful shop. But it's quite utilitarian in design so one doesn't feel that it is a completely alienating environment. They have  a wide range of styles, but, of course no help from the assistants.  I persevered , and came away with a well fitting pair of straight leg jeans with no contrived fading or rips. They also have no branding, which for me is a plus. And, another plus, they were very cheap.


Shryh said...

I never wore jeans and earnestly believed that my figure was too chunky to look good in jeans (despite owning a pair of dark bootcut Levis) until I bought my first pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans in college nearly 6 years ago. They were snug, the tightest piece of clothing I owned, but for the first time in my life I did not look terrible in something that hugged my body so closely. Those jeans made me feel much better about myself, and I've never looked back since. I don't own a lot of designer clothing or shoes, but I refuse to skimp on jeans. I now wear Paige and J Brand, but credit goes to my first pair of 7s for restoring some self-confidence.

metscan said...

In the early 90´s I had 2 pairs of jeans by Calvin Klein. I used them to the very end. They were normal waisted, straight,but narrowed slightly downwards and were ankle length with no stretch. Since then I haven´t had a pair of jeans so perfect. I hate the low waisted ones you have to pull up all the time. 7 for all mankind seem ok, but with the stretch they very quickly drop down. Why is it so hard to find suitable jeans? At the moment I am wearing Diesels but they also seem to loosen too fast. I´d like to get those faded CK:s back!

materfamilias said...

I have a similar litany of jeans in my past, but never took them very seriously until several years ago when my daughters took me in hand -- My first great jeans were a pair of Citizens for Humanity in a dark wash. I've since replaced them with another pair of the exact same model (Ingrid) and also added a pair of 7 for all Mankind trouser jeans, a pair of Earnest plain dark slight-flare, a pair of Fidelity (a Vancouver-based line). I used to think it was outrageous to pay so much for jeans, but as shryh says, I love the way they fit on me, making me feel confident, and I think I get more payback -- more wears per penny -- from my jeans than from anything else in my closet.