Size and fit: Jeans
On this entry of the “Size and Fit” series I’ll focus on one of the most iconic and essential pieces on any wardrobe (women’s and men’s alike). Denim has been around for ever and has been continuously evolving to adapt to fashion’s standards and trends. To quickly sum up its history and give you a tour of its endeavours up until now, here are some dates to remind:
- 1600: Production of the first jean-like pants designed for the Italian Navy (even then italians were trendsetters);
- 1870: Levi Strauss presents his first pair of jeans to the market;
- 1970: Bell-bottoms become a staple of the hippie culture;
- 1980: Calvin Klein introduces the concept of designer denim;
- 1990: Hip hop culture leads the way to baggy, oversized jeans;
- 2000: Return to the classic original shape. The market’s flooded with jeans in all kinds of washes and cuts.
There’s so much to denim that you’ll be able find encyclopedias on the subject, thoroughly examinining every little aspect of this timeless piece. Without getting into much detail, I do believe a brief explanation of the different cuts and terms is in order:
- Bootcut: described as a jean with a tappered leg up to the knee, that slightly widens to accommodate a boot;
(Levi’s Bootcut 512 - photo from Fashionbeans).
-Relaxed/Loose Fit: these wide fitting jeans are quite loose on the leg and sport larger and longer back pockets. They are associated with a casual look and do not flatter your body shape in any way;
(Levi’s Engineered Jeans - I have to thank my friend Miguel for digging these out of his closet and letting me take some pics).
- Straight cut: the jean’s leg width is the same all the way up to the ankle. This is the most classic cut of all;
The straight cut: notice the extra fabric which allows for a comfortable feel and constant leg width. Jacket by Lacoste, crewneck tee by Levi’s, jeans by Osklen and loafers by Lottusse.
- Slim Fit: a fitted version of the straight cut, which adapts to your leg and defines your silhouette. These are the most up to date option on this list;
My favourite pair: v-neck sweater by DKNY, crewneck tee by Levi’s, belt by Purificacion Garcia, jeans by Levi’s (511 slim), loafers by Lottusse, watch by Rolex (GMT Master II) and sunglasses by Rayban (New Wayfarer).
- Skinny: once the prized outfit of 80’s rock stars, this skin tight model made of a combination of cotton and elastane has experienced a noticeable comeback in recent years, mostly thanks to Swedish brands such as Cheap Monday;
A skinny alternative: shirt by Osklen, belt by Gap, jeans by Levi’s (519 skinny) and plimsoles by Paul Smith.
Simply put, the ones you should be aiming for are the straight leg and slim fit models, with a marked preference for the latter. Why? Because they are the most versatile and timeless of the whole bunch: you’ll be able to dress them up or down according to the situation.
Finding the perfect pair of jeans may be a wearisome task that requires you to spend considerable time going from one store to the next, while trying on different models and choosing which fits best. So, it’s all the more satisfying to finish your nerve-wrecking quest knowing which model of which brand is your match (for me it’s the Levi’s 511 slim, as you’ve noticed by now). Once you do, stick to it: for variety get the same model in a different wash or fabric and you’re all set.
When you’re out shopping, a rule of thumb for jeans is: the simpler the better - avoid over the top designs (extremely low crotch, twisted seams, etc.), too many pockets or zippers and especially embroided embellishments (not even women should wear these). Opt for classic cuts in darker colors as they look more sophisticated and avoid acid washes and factory aged/ripped jeans. After all one of the greatest pleasures for a denim lover is to be able to achieve the perfectly worn-in pair (try wearing the same ones for 6 months in a row).
A final word of advice is to take your newly adquired denim to the tailor: you’ll notice how most options available at stores are either too long on your legs or too loose on your waist. It’s rare to find a pair that fits impeccably on both places so just have them hemmed or “taken in” accordingly to ensure a perfect fit.
Enjoy your shopping and keep an eye out for upcoming posts!