Denimology: 5 Steps Towards Finding The Perfect Jeans

03.03.10 8 years ago 17 Comments

Buying jeans used to be easy. I let my mom pick them out. Ever since I matured and aged past middle school, it’s been a part of shopping that’s befuddled me and now it’s even worse with the changing style trends. First there was boot cut (never was a fan), next low rise (you pitching or catching?), then baggy and now skinny. Oh, I almost forgot selvage denim craze, the enormous amount of brands & washes available, all of which can leave your head spinning. No one wants to end up making the same fashion faux pax as Obama,  donning those terrible high-waist, acid-washed mom jeans.  Yet, we don’t want to agonize over what we’re going to wear either.  To simplify the process, here are 5 simple tips to help shop and care for the right pair of jeans.

Never is it okay to wear your girlfriend’s jeans.

1. Consider The Occasion

It took me a while to accept this fact of life: There isn’t one perfect pair of jeans for everything. The jeans I wear on Saturday mornings to wash the car generally aren’t the same ones that I wear to work on casual Friday or out to the bar. So accept that there are a variety of styles and fits for different occasions and choose with that in mind. The jeans (you want to be haughty? let’s call them “denim”) that I pair with a nice sportcoat or alone with an oxford dress shirt are very subtle and conservative in style. The ones I buy for weekends are more relaxed in fit and a tad bit baggier, but not excessive. No matter what I buy, I prefer that the jeans work for multiple scenarios and occasions because those former work jeans will soon be my Saturday jeans anyway.

Stonewashed, rip-torn gauchos? Don’t be like Mike.

2. Stick To The Classics

This can be tough in the day where everything has embroidery, buttons, new age rinses, different distresses and colors. But I’m not for fashion; I’m an advocate of style.  Fashion trends change with the seasons, coming and going at the whim of waif European men who smoke skinny cigarettes and choose not to have sex with the models in front of them. However, men of a certain age don’t change their style much. I say skip all those different buttons and adornments. Stick with an original blue jean (timeless), a slightly faded jean (versatile) or dark denim (more fashionable these days but still beautiful and timeless).

These are not the best of both worlds.

3. Finding A Fit

Boot cut, straight fit, relaxed, slim and loose. There’s enough names applied to jeans to make your head spin. The truth is that most of these monikers are created by the designers to describe the same fit. One of your better bets is to know somewhat how you want the jeans to fit and try on a few pairs. Want them loose in the thighs? Lower in the waist to sit below your beer gut? No matter how nice a pair of jeans looks on the rack, they’re no good if they don’t fit your body type or they’re too tight in the waist, crotch or legs.

As a general rule, I would probably avoid boot cut…unless you wear cowboy boots. Also, since jeans will shrink a little, buy the inseam a little long.

Tony Romo’s good jeans/Tony Romo’s bad bad jeans

4. Wear’em!

A few keys things here. Again, block out some time. Take your wife, significant other or your sister. If those aren’t options, asking a gorgeous sales associate always is because they’re there and they’re paid to assist you. Bring the belt you wear the most and slide it on to see if there’s enough loops to support it and your cell phone. Now, mimic your normal wearing conditions, to a degree. This doesn’t mean engage in flag football drills in the store. Instead, stuff normal items like your keys and wallet in your pocket. Cop a squat in a chair. Got enough room without feeling like you’re going to Incredible Hulk any of the seams in the front or rear?  Also, try on the jeans with the shoes that you wear most often or the ones you plan to wear with them.

Yeah, it takes some time and patience but if you do this a couple of times you won’t have to do it many more. I memorize which brands and styles work for what I want and just try them on for sizing now.

5. Once You’ve Taken Them Home…

I always wash my jeans before wearing them, even preshrunk ones. I may be alone in this but I hate getting the blue dye on the tops of my sneakers. Plus, it takes away some of the stiffness. As well, I don’t dry my jeans in the dryer, instead allowing them to air dry. After they’re nearly dry, I’ll put them in the dryer (low heat!) to knock out some of the wrinkles. If and when you do wash them, turn them inside out & use cold water so as to help them retain their color.

There you go. Jeans are sort of like cars. As men, we don’t buy them often and we want them to be durable, discreet to a degree and low maintenance as possible so we can worry about the other, more important things in life. Like, our fantasy sports leagues, 401k’s and stocking a liquor cabinet, not necessarily in that order.

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