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It’s in your Jeans

By Stan Mukoro
“I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.”      –Yves Saint Laurent

There’s something nostalgic about a good pair of jeans. The consistent nature of my favorite pair is something that I appreciate. They aren’t just pants but a wardrobe staple. Jeans are like a hodge-podge of our life experiences. Like an old loyal friend, they don’t change even though the fashion statement around them does.

When I lived in London, traditional business attire was my daily uniform. Even today, I cannot conduct any business unless I am dressed the part. Dressing in anything less was unheard of until a dear friend of mine convinced me that there was life beyond shirts with slacks and I needed to relax a bit and loosen up. My first date with denim was a pair of board-stiff, shrink-to-fit original 501s by Levi’s. Our introduction was love at first sight and was a major rite of wardrobe passage.

The omnipresence of jeans shows they are no longer a mark of rebellion but rather how people identify themselves. This denim mania has created a retail phenomenon earning designers all over the world billions of dollars and producing jeans each with some kind of individualistic, unique selling point. Jeans fashion is vital and able to change constantly and combine individuality with the spirit of the times. There are as many designs as there are legs to wear them at work, at play and everywhere in between.

Jeans have longevity
Jeans have longevity

When it comes to denim, buying brands you trust is always advisable. However, if you rely on name recognition alone, you will surely miss out. Long a Levi’s fan because of the classic look and consistency in quality and price, even this brand has reinvented themselves to keep up with the “blue jean-eration”. The 501s were my old standard but my Capital E’s are my current standard. While I will forever love my Levi’s in a sentimental kind of way, other tried, tested and true designers I recommend include: True Religion, 7 for All Mankind, William Rast, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Citizens of Humanity, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, DSquared, Cheap Monday, Andrew McKenzie, Yohji Yamamoto and Tom Ford.

Determining how much you should spend on jeans is between you and your wallet. The only advice I will offer is to avoid buying trendy jeans, especially if they are expensive. It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot if they will be out of style in year’s time or less. If you wear jeans regularly, splurging on a classic, higher end pair is not unreasonable. On the other hand, it is also ok to opt for a cheaper pair if you only intend to wear them occasionally.

The wrong pair of jeans can be disastrous but the right pair can transform your physique. When shopping, fit (how the jeans sit on your body), cut (the shape of the jeans) and wash (the color and finish of the jeans) are what to consider. Fit categories include: slim, regular, relaxed and loose. Boot cut, high rise, low rise, skinny, wide or straight leg are the different cuts. The most common washes are stone, dark, distressed and dirty. Mastering how to combine fit, cut and wash helps you find the ideal jeans for your body so you end up with a pair that look like they were custom made for you. For example, men with lean body types can choose between slim or regular-fit jeans that are boot cut, skinny or straight leg in any wash. Men with heavier body types should go for the relaxed-fit with a boot cut or wide leg in a dark, stone or dirty wash.

how to combine fit, cut and wash helps you find the ideal jeans for your body so you end up with a pair that look like they were custom made for you. For example, men with lean body types can choose between slim or regular-fit jeans that are boot cut, skinny or straight leg in any wash. Men with heavier body types should go for the relaxed-fit with a boot cut or wide leg in a dark, stone or dirty wash.

Lords in Los Angeles and Jean Shop in New York are two stores I’ve frequented when traveling that offer an exciting variety of jeans. Both retailers are very impressive on many levels and help bring a fresh perspective to jeans and the versatility of them. Obscure and cool would best describe the selections in both places. A trip to either place with plenty of money to spend is most certainly an experience that will fuel any fashion fetish.
The original denim was 100% cotton serge material but now it is blended with other materials to give us different types and colors. Raw denim is denim in its purest form and very durable. It is dark in color, stiff and requires a couple of wears to break it in. The premium type of denim is selvage denim and only the finest jeans are made of it. Clean edges that don’t unravel and tight weaving are characteristics of this type. Selvage denim is more expensive than raw denim and becomes uniquely better with age and wear.

Jeans have longevity. If cared for properly, they can last for many years. Typically, we outgrow them before they fall apart. Make sure the length of your jeans is appropriate for the shoes your wear most often. Hemming is a quick, inexpensive service that prevents ruining your jeans. I advise washing or dry-cleaning jeans a few times a year, only if absolutely necessary, to enhance the natural distressing process and prevent fading.

From the beginning as work wear to being universally accepted as leisure wear to its evolution into designer fashion, no other article of clothing can match the love of jeans from all cultures around the world. Jeans are the epitome of fashion, making them a wardrobe must-have. The abundance of styles and brands can be mind blowing. Remember, all jeans are not created equal. Make sure you have casual jeans as well as dressier pairs. No matter if you are sliding them on with your navy blazer or a classic white T-shirt, as long as they are the right style and fit – it’s hard to go wrong with the perfect pair.

*Stan Mukoro is an image consultant living in Atlanta, Georgia.
Contact info for questions and answers: ssmukoro@gmail.com
Weekly tip: To rid jeans of an unpleasant odor, fold them, put them in a Ziploc bag and place them in the freezer for several hours.


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