Style Forever: Eight Perfect Pairs of Jeans
This is an edited extract from Style Forever by Alyson Walsh, published by Hardie Grant. RRP $29.95, available in stores nationally.
Everyday Denim Jeans
The best thing about denim is that it gets better with age. And we all know how we feel about that phenomenon. To me, an old pair of jeans is like a brilliant comfort blanket – faded, soft, worn – one with not too many dribble stains that I can safely leave the house in.
Chloe Lonsdale, founder and creative director of MiH jeans, feels the same: ‘That’s what’s so beautiful about denim, it’s designed to last and live with you. Jeans get beaten and bashed and become part of your life.’ Born into a denim dynasty, Chloe explains her love affair with the sturdy fabric: ‘I’m not really a denim geek. For me it’s more of a lifestyle, a denim way of dressing. The spirit of wearing jeans is not about glamour, more bare-faced chic. Denim adds a bit of attitude and energy without doing too much.’ Exactly.
Fortunately, I’ve always had the kind of job where I can add a bit of daily denim attitude, apart from one with a mail order company in the late 80s where, early on in my fashion career, I was admonished 113 the wardrobe glue for looking like I’d ‘grabbed my clothes out of the laundry basket’. When the boss ordered me to invest in a briefcase, I knew my days were numbered.
Denim hasn’t always been an easy, everyday option. In the 1950s, when another kind of age barrier existed, teenagers rebelled by dressing differently to their parents, by adopting the clothes worn by rock ’n’ roll heroes and movie stars, who in turn were wearing working class gear to break with convention and challenge the social order.
As well as bad boy rebels like James Dean and Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe famously wore jeans on and off set. On the set of 1954’s The River of No Return and again in 1961’s The Misfits, Eve Arnold, the first female Magnum photographer, beautifully captured Monroe in jeans, a white shirt, cowboy boots and a Lee Storm Rider denim jacket. The first female star in double denim? Could be.
Today’s denim isn’t all rough and rugged (unless you’re a staunch fan of the Japanese selvedge variety). It’s preshrunk, worn-and-torn, distressed, beaten, bleached and over-dyed, sometimes at great cost to the environment. But we have DuPont to thank for Lycra.
In my younger days I was tough enough to handle the stiff, unwashed material but now it’s all about comfort and ease and not performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre on myself every time I sit down. I once saw the 56-year-old dancer/theatre artist Wendy Houston in a short performance, ridiculously shuffling about the stage in a tall cardboard box. That’s how I feel in Lycra-less denim.
Eight perfect pairs of jeans
1. J.Crew’s toothpick (ankle-length) jeans
My current favourites. Perfect with Chelsea boots in winter and Birkenstocks in summer.
2. J Brand 8112
Features a skinny/straight leg, a nice midrise and comes highly recommended by a regular That’s Not My Age follower.
3. GAP real straight, mid-rise jeans.
I’m a massive fan of Gap jeans and own several pairs. This style is simple and straightforward with no logos or branding.
4. Uniqlo straight skinny fit
A decent cheap option. Only problem is, the dye doesn’t appear to be fixed so I always end up with dark-blue hands and what looks like a five o’clock shadow. Don’t invite me round to your house if you’ve got a white sofa.
5. APC jean Étroit court
My best pair of jeans ever are over 20 years old and from APC. I’ve just bought this cropped leg, straight, low-rise style. Made from Japanese denim (with 2 per cent polyurethane) that feels a bit like cardboard for the first few wears.
6. MiH Phoebe slim jean
A slimmer-legged boyfriend style that founder Chloe Lonsdale advises is ‘easy to wear, has a great silhouette and is popular right now’.
7. Not Your Daughter’s Jeans
Dubious name, available in various leg shapes, these are ‘comfortable and flattering and you never have a fat day’, according to a reliable source.
8. Levi’s 501s
The original and the best. For a more figure-hugging style, Levi’s Curve ID has a good rep.
This is an edited extract from Style Forever by Alyson Walsh, a freelance fashion journalist and author of the celebrated blog That’s Not My Age. She writes for the Guardian and FT’s How To Spend It, Saga Magazine and allaboutyou.com. The former fashion editor of Good Housekeeping magazine strongly believes you don’t have to have youth to have style.
Style Forever by Alyson Walsh, published by Hardie Grant. RRP $29.95, available in stores nationally.