The blue jean is seen as one of the most foundational + functional pieces in menswear and it’s a great follow-up to the tee. Both durable & comfortable, this all-American staple started out as worker’s wear and lived long enough to become fashionable! Something that never would have been imaginable to the miners and laborers who first wore them a century and a half ago. The story of the denim jean really is a metaphor for the American dream!
In each post, I’ll be making the case for why the article of clothing deserves to be a staple in your closet. I’ll be recommending my favorite style as well as offering different price points & options as well! There aren’t many things more American out there than a pair of blue jeans.
While many of y’all are have gone through dozens of jeans in your lifetime, my goal with this series is to try to help you simplify your closet and life. I’d recommend having a limit of 3 pairs of blue jeans. You’ll need a pair of true-blue jeans that you can rock year-round, then get a pair of black or grey for the winter and a very light wash or white for the summer months. You’ll be well-equipped for anything that might come your way!
“The most recognizable, classic jeans as we’ve come to know them – made from indigo-dyed denim with pockets and sturdy riveting suitable for workwear – were patented in 1873 by Jacob Davis, a tailor, and Levi Strauss, owner of a wholesale fabric house in San Francisco. The copper rivets used to reinforce the pockets were appreciated by miners and other laborers, who complained about frequent pocket rips. Strauss and Davis initially made jeans in two types of fabric, brown duck and blue denim, but the creation of the denim 501 styles in 1890 helped the latter fabric take off.
Hollywood helped romanticize the blue jean in the 1920s and 1930s by putting the trousers on handsome cowboy types played by the likes of John Wayne and Gary Cooper. Yet, it wasn’t until the 1950s that jeans came to be associated with rebellious, anti-establishment youth. Marlon Brando and James Dean popularized the image of the denim-clad teenage idol with huge sex appeal; rock’n’roll stars helped cement the style as cool; hippies and anti-war protestors wore jeans in the 1960s and early 1970s as a way to show support for the working class; while feminists and women’s lib organizers chose blue jeans as a way to demonstrate gender equity.
Over the decades, the types and styles of jeans became stratified among groups and subgroups: hip-hop styles of the early 1990s were characterized by oversized, low-slung baggy jeans; intellectuals and hipsters turned to dark denim as a way to get back to the style’s roots; pop stars favored Diesel’s sandblasted and whiskered styles; aficionados paid high prices for vintage Levi’s and hand-dyed Japanese indigo. Today, almost all luxury labels and high-fashion designers have sent jeans down the runway; and they’re available at both ends of the price spectrum, in a multitude of styles: wide, skinny, high-waisted, low, light, dark, or colored.”*
Abercrombie ~ $79
Again, I can only speak to the pairs of jeans that fit me and which I’ve had the most success with. When it comes to style types, comfort, and affordability… Abercrombie nails it. They have 8 different fits, and each fit has about a dozen styles.. so they’ve got you COVERED. I go with their ‘Athletic Skinny’ as it’s a skinny jean but with more room in the thigh and tapered toward the ankle. They just fit me well! Built-in stretch provides comfort and flexibility. Now I have other pairs that I love, but almost anytime somebody comments on my jeans I laugh because it’s always a pair from Abercrombie!
Rogue Territory ~$295
Raw denim is simply unwashed denim that remains untreated. It’s denim in its purest form. It’s usually quite stiff and yes… these are the jeans that you wash by sticking in the freezer (to kill the bacteria!). Rogue Territory has been a favorite of mine for years. Their Stanton (14oz.) is a slim-straight jean that, over time, fits me so well and is probably my most comfortable jean to date! I rocked the heck out of my Rouge Territorys and they lasted years. If you’re going raw: Raw denim will stretch up to 1″ total in the waist once you begin breaking them in. They’ll become super-comfortable over time, molding to you! Check out their Size Guide before you buy! You can expect a good amount of indigo bleeding in the first few weeks of wear. Avoid light-colored surfaces as indigo will transfer. Raw denim might not for everybody – especially with that price tag – but raw denim is an investment and a pair of raw denim will last you years!
- Levi’s ~ $70. Can’t forget the original! A close second is the classic & iconic inventor of the jean pant! Their 511 Slim Fit Flex Jeans style is the fit that me like a glove. They’re slim in the thigh with a straight fit down to the ankle — which means you can wear them with just about any shoe.
- AG Jeans ~ $225. Their ‘Tellis’ is the style that fits me best. It’s a modern slim denim with a fitted upper block and tapered leg opening.
- BLDWN ~ $200. another option for raw denim lovers, this Kansas City shop put KC on the map for denim-lovers everywhere. They’re currently undergoing a re-brand, and their site is down until Feb 2021. Be looking out for them when they make their return!
- Wrangler ~ $40. If you’re from Texas or the south for that matter, you probably grew up with wranglers. The light (almost white!) wash was the only pair to be seen in throughout high school. Their Cowboy Cut Slim Fit jeans have a great fit as they feature a slim silhouette through the seat, thigh, and knee.
What are your favorite pair of jeans?! In this series, I’ll be deconstructing the essential staples in your closet to better acquaint you with the foundational must-haves. They are simple, but crucial for building any outfit. I’ll be covering topics like sneakers, loafers, essential accessories, and more! Let me know if there’s a topic you’d like me to cover as well! My goal is that by the end of 2021, you are set up for success with the best staples out there!
* via Vogue France