The Dirt On Jeans

Jeans are tricky. I can’t think of anything we wear – or any consumer product, actually – that has evolved to such an extent without looking much different. That’s the tricky part. Like wine, all jeans kind of look the same; but the more exposed and educated you become the more there is to differentiate one from another. With jeans you have to know about fabric and fit to appreciate the differences between Army-Navy dungarees and what they call Premium Denim.

            Workmen’s pants are made of heavy, strong, and rigid cloth because they are designed to simply to cover the body, to provide protection in a work environment, and to last forever. They are blue because Levi Strauss who invented them favored indigo dye, which is strange because it is very caustic and not very color fast. Anyhow, as a result of being made of dense and inflexible material they have a baggy seat – the kind you might see some cleavage over – and no real discernable characteristics of fit whatsoever.

            The Premium Denim pants are made of technologically sophisticated cloth, spun, woven and dyed to be made into pants that fit in a way that conventional trousers never can. And “can” is the operative word. They should hug your butt as much as possible without feeling tight or looking stupid up front, and they should give a longer, leaner, more fit look to your legs and lower body. Some guys try to tout “Premium Denim for Man-Sized Men” but it’s almost an oxymoron if you’re out of proportion. Sorry to say, jeans can be a Level 2 or even a Level 3 thing, but not for every body. Better jeans may stretch a little, and they will certainly have been washed before you buy them to achieve a soft, lived-in feel. In fact, the wash technique and the resulting color and drape of the legs is the lion’s share of why they cost so much more.

I have seen really expensive jeans in stores with holes “worn” in them by laborers with forks and files and stuff. If you want to pay extra for that, I have a bridge we should discuss.

The tricky part has to do with the fact that even though you might take the time and trouble to learn all there is to know about Premium Denim, and you might have shelled out a couple hundred bucks for that pair of beauties, to Mr. Jones next door it still looks like you’ve got on an old pair of Levis.

FYI “Jean” is the name of the cloth, derived from the old English “jene fustian,” a name for a heavy cotton twill first found in Genoa, Italy. And if that’s not enough information, remember this: denim is a corruption of the French “de Nîmes,” the name they gave to the same fabric the Genoese thought they’d invented. Coke and Pepsi all over again. 

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