Ditch the Dad Jeans: A Man’s Guide to Blue Jeans

Jeans are an iconic american staple. Jeans and I have a funny history. As a kid I hated jeans and would only wear sweatpants. Then I found out I had to wear a pair of jeans for my school’s Grease-themed performance. I had no choice but to wear them. My mom took me to a second-hand store to get some. Through my silent protest I was trying on jeans and while my perceived denimless world was crumbling before me, I reached my hand in the pocket of the best pair I had tried on yet. I felt something in the pocket, something crumpled and paper-like. I pulled it out & it was an old $5 bill! I felt like It must be a sign from the gods! Denim and I belong together. I showed my mom the bill and tried to convince her to check the pockets of all the garments in the store, but she convinced me to keep the $5 and just go home. I wore the jeans out of the store.

Since that point I have always had jeans. But I don’t wear jeans as often as most. I prefer slacks, but dark jeans are pretty versatile. Even my best friend was surprised to find out I only own one pair of jeans. Whenever I buy a new pair of jeans I like them way more than my old, too worn, too stretched pair. They always fit way better and look much nicer. Right now I have one pair of dirty wash jeans and they are dark enough to look good dressed up or down.

Dad Jeans is what not to do:

dad jeans

I will try to help you avoid buying or wearing them, just follow my blue jeans guide and go from lame to GQ easily:

dad compare

History

The word “denim” comes from the name of a fabric that was first made in the city of Nîmes, France. It was originally called serge de Nîmes but the name was soon shortened to de Nim or “denim.” Denim has been used in the United States since the late 18th century. Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue jeans, although “jean” formerly denoted a different, lighter, cotton fabric. The contemporary use of the word “jean” comes from the French word for Genoa, Italy (Gênes in French), where the first denim trousers were made.

Jeans and denim started as a workman’s uniform essentially. Cowboys, factory workers and gold miners loved its durability on the job. In the 30’s a lot of cowboy movies depicted cowboys in denim and this is where popularity initially set forward fashion-wise for jeans. In the 40’s less jeans were produced for consumers due to WWII, but soldiers would wear their denim off-duty due to the comfort. After the war in the 50’s James Dean played the leading role in a movie called “Rebel Without A Cause” in jeans, which skyrocketed youth and “greaser” rebels to don the denim. Jeans stayed popular to teens and rebels in the 60’s and 70’s following along with the fashions in those decades. In the 80’s denim became designer. In the 90’s jeans were not as popular, as the parents of now-teens were still wearing jeans, so their children didn’t want to look like their parents and opted for other pant styles or very different jeans(JNCO’s anyone?).

What are Jeans?

Jeans are made of two fabrics, in a twill formation (diagonal stitching) with the outside dyed indigo and the inside usually white. Look at the inside of your jeans, they are a different color. This is what causes the fading you see in jeans. It is the indigo wearing out and more closely matching the inside fabric.

Now comes the “Wash.” Besides raw denim, all jeans are washed after they are dyed, and before they are sold. Raw denim has not been washed (My next pair of jeans will be raw denim and I will dedicate a complete post to that). “Stone Washed” is where the jeans are washed with stones (or more likely chemicals today) to make them look faded before they’ve ever been used. “Acid Washed” is what looks bleached, and is washed with chemicals. “Dirty Washed” is where the 2nd fabric is darker, usually a brown or a copper, so when the pants fade, they fade into a “dirty” color, as opposed to white. “Distressed” is where fake holes and wear and tear are made into the jeans.

Today

Today the market for jeans is huge. Americans bought $13.8 billion USD of men’s and women’s jeans in the year ended April 30, 2011, according to market-research firm NPD Group. I would even say the market is flooded with jeans. Any store has about 30 options of jeans to choose from including different cuts and washes. It is overwhelming to go anywhere to try to pic out a pair of jeans. So I will help you find the best pair of jeans for you.

1. The first thing to do is find your prefered fit, to do that read Pants 101 as it is covered there. I will reiterate here that the jeans you try on should be snug in the fitting room as today clothes stretch, not shrink. So try sizes smaller than you think you are and realize they will stretch one size up.

2. Now you know your cut, it’s time for colors. Remember this is just about blue jeans, but the shades run the gamut. I recommend the darkest blue they have. Darker blue jeans are more formal and go well with a tee, button up, or dress shirt. Also, your brown loafers will look killer with them. Also, a dirty wash will cause them to stay darker longer.

3. Now find the most snug fitting pair and you are good to go. See it’s easier than you thought!

What to avoid:

While we are trying to do the opposite of Dad Jeans, there is taking it too far or too “designer.” Remember with jeans you want simple but nice. Any design or originality should only be in the details, not plastered all over your trousers.

distress

1. Distressed – While jeans are meant to be worn out and eventually ripped to shreds, you are ripping yourself off by buying them that way. These are easy to see through not only because of the holes, but because of their placement too. If you’ve ever worn a pair of jeans till death, you would know that they wear out at the bottom of the front and back pockets until only the side and in seams end up holding them up, until they break and you are left with your favorite pants transformed into coochie-cutters. All I’m saying is: earn your stripes, don’t buy them. Plus, if one other person you know owns the same pair of distressed pants, you’ve been made and your pants made redundant.

butt design

2. Butt designs – I would only hope this is a given, but any design on your jeans is not for you. Designs on jeans are tacky and prove you are trying too hard, but instead of being creative, you try to buy your creativity. Above that, butt designs are for women. I guess it works if you are trying to show your ass off, but even then I would hope you could be subtle about it. Just leave all designs on jeans to women, real men wear real jeans. But if your goal is to cross-dress, get these!

BCS

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Pants for Muscular Men (Pants 101 amended)

In relation to my last post I had a friend text me: “…try having fashion applicable to men that have actual muscle mass. Skinny cut pants aren’t possible for real men [whose] thighs are twice as big as their calf”

For starters, I would argue that a real man is not measured in muscles, just as I would argue that a real man is not measured by his penis size or bank account. I would personally measure a man by his decency, support & honesty to others, along with an ability to keep a cool head in any situation and never lose his temper. I may be old-fashioned in this regard. But in the quest to prove oneself as a real man, in my opinion, the constant dedication, discipline & persistence on the given course to get jacked is as close of an indicator of a real man as one can get. Along with one’s zealousness for protein shakes and abhorrence for empty calories in the pursuit of getting shredded, one must know how to wear the right clothes to show off what you got.

One thing is for sure thogh, my friend was right. It is hard for a muscular man to dress properly with a narrow waist & strong thighs. The solution for this is to find a pair of pants in the Relaxed category that fit well in the thigh and on the gluts first, despite the oversized waist and baggy shins. For Jeans you will want them tight on the thigh as they will stretch, and Khakis/Slacks with more of an exact fit. Now, you have to make custom form-fitting pants, so take them to a tailor to get the waist properly fitted along with the legs tapered from the thigh down to the ankle. With Khakis/Slacks you want a Small or No Break on the length because any extra fabric at the bottom makes this body size look more short than muscular. For Jeans you can have them a little longer on the break if you want to roll them up, but I would still just recommend a small break still and a half-inch turn when you want to roll them up.

The idea from my last post stands true, jocks just have to customize their pants to get the waist and taper correct. This can be inexpensive if you get cheaper pants, but you might want to spurge on the tailor & find one who is recommended by other muscular men. My favorite tailor in Pdx is Mike, The Tailor, he works in the back of Collier (615 SW Broadway ave. Suite 103) & even though I don’t know his experience in this area, he can probably take care of you.

For your first couple of trips to the tailor I would recommend getting fully refundable pants or cheap thrift shop pants to make sure the tailor can do the alterations you want for the price you want to pay.

I hope this helps.

For future reference to anyone who has questions/comments/concerns/complaints you can post it here on my blog under the comments section, email me, Tweet or FB me. Others may have the same questions or may have good advice for you too.

BCS

Pants 101

Gentlemen,

Pants are useful for many reasons, and in Portland, men need them for at least 10 months out of the year. Whether work or play, you are going to want to look good wearing them.

Today, let’s go over some basics on Men’s pants. For the sake of simplicity I’m going to break trousers down into three categories:

1. Slacks – These are your dress pants, suit pants, formal wear, etc.

2. Khakis – These are the less formal khakis, chinos, etc.

3. Jeans – You probably know what these are.

Everything else is specialized. Carharts stay on the job site, pajama pants stay in the home, hiking pants stay on the trail.

Step #1: Choose flat-front pants over pleated.

Pleated-Pants

Never ever, ever wear pleats. Pleats are outdated. The idea behind them is that men need more room and flexibility in their crotch and with the pockets. That was fine when they were popular from the 20s through the 90’s, mainly because fabric was not as flexible then. But now there is no excuse! If you want to wear pants in which you could smuggle drugs or kittens across a border, these are what I would recommend. They come with a giant crotch-void only good for adding 40 lbs to your frame or smuggling. Also the pleats push the fabric out further from the waist, adding weight to the legs all the way down the ankle. The 90’s are alive in Portland but most of us ditched the pleats long ago. You can barely find these in stores anymore, but older more traditional men will swear by pleats. Businessmen are baggier than gangsters these days and that is just weird.

Common pro-pleat myths:

“Pleats help the crease on the legs fall smother” Possibly true, but moot as the crease is a minor worry when you’re adding optical fat to your body.

“Pleats make bigger men look thinner” False, you may be ‘hiding’ fat, i.e. you can’t see what is the fat or just super baggy fabric, but if put in slimmed down flat-fronts the same man would get compliments for looking thinner. The baggier your clothes, the fatter you look.

“Pleats give my penis more room, as I cannot fit them in flat-fronts” (Real argument I’ve heard) False, don’t lie. People usually only try to hide what they don’t have (Push-up bra ring a bell?).

I’m sure someday pleated pants will come back as some ironic fashion statement, but even then I will be grimacing and scoffing in my flat-front pants.

Step #2: Choose your cut.

There are 4 main cuts these days in all three categories of pants:

Relaxed: These are loose, baggy pants. Just don’t do it. You live in Portland, there is literally a 1 in a million chance you are a gangster rapper. Even if you are a fan of gangster rap, dress like A$AP Rocky, not Snoop Dog[Lion]. If there is one thing to take away from this post, it’s to slim up your clothes. My general rule is to not have enough extra fabric on my body to dress a starving African child, because that’s just fucking selfish. So this is a no in all 3 above categories.

Straight(Boot Cut): This cut is the same from the thigh down to the ankle, no taper. Unless you are a stick figure, your ankles are thinner than your thighs. Don’t wear these unless you are wearing boots. Yes only in Jeans, with boots

Slim: This is what you should go for. Anyone can pull this off, it’s just a different name for tapered & because your legs are tapered, this looks good on anyone. Even if you don’t consider yourself slim, try them on, because most brands err on the side of not slim enough. What you really want is anything with “Tailored” in the name of the cut, i.e. Tailored Slim. If they actually fit & look like they were tailored to your body then you win at life. You will look pro without having to pay a tailor to do it! Fully acceptable and highly recommended in all 3 above.

Skinny: You probably already know if you can pull off this cut. This is not acceptable in Slacks usually, but this is Portland & we’re all already oxymorons in one way or another, so I say go for it! Show those chicks what you’re working with!

Step #3: Put the breaks on your breaks!

PantsFit_Breaks

The break on your pants is how the fabric lands on the top of your shoes. The break depends on the pants you wear, but also the shoes you wear with them.

Full/Large Break: This or any pile of pant leg resting on one’s shoe is your first clue of a cluelessly dressed man. Think of the African children and tighten it up boys. This break is never acceptable in Slacks & to me only acceptable in Khaki or Jeans if rolled up(turning it into No Break).

Half/Medium Break: This is the conservative industry standard. All of Congress & any CEO over the age of 35 is sporting this break. So obviously it’s boring, not recommended unless running for office.

Quarter/Small Break: More stylish & tailored look. Highly recommended if you want to look better than others, with no one able to put their finger on why. Also, this will not cause any ripples with bosses or conservatives.

No Break/Rise: This is the one I go for. It is the most fashion-forward. People will stare, comment, perhaps even make fun if they are intimidated by your prowess. This today is urbane defined, and the only way to wear your pants if you want to make moves outside of walking. Careful on this one, like liquor, a little goes a long way. It’s called a Rise, not highwaters. This shows off the shoes and socks without having to sit down. You must have slim or skinny cuts to pull this off. Ankle is the businessman’s cleavage. Wear it well. Better picture below.

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