Jeans And Beyond: Eight New Ways To Wear Denim This Spring
From chambray shirts to classic trucker jackets, traditional selvedge and ripped jeans – why these enduring wardrobe staples are more relevant than ever
There may be few constants in life, but jeans are one of them. And not just because they are, by the hard-wearing nature of their fabric, very long-lasting. An era’s aesthetic philosophy, even its cultural preoccupations, are quickly exposed by a trip down denim memory lane: the 1970s had bell-bottoms; the new kids on the block in the 1980s discovered acid-washing; the 1990s introduced fashion’s upper echelons to the grungy delights of the ripped jean; and, for better or worse, the early 2000s had bootlegs. Jeans are the style world’s litmus test. So, what to make of our current era? A couple of years ago, it seemed as though we’d settled into a comfortable slim-leg routine, but the same can’t be said for 2019. At a time when menswear feels more experimental than it has for a while, your choice of jeans says more about you than ever before. Need some guidance navigating this brave new world? Read on for eight ways to wear denim now.
BANISH THE BLUES
There was a time when we wouldn’t even dream to suggest you go out and treat yourself to some coloured denim – that is, any denim that’s not blue, black or a shade of grey. But the style world has taken a less serious turn of late. Among other things, that involves a newfound appreciation for a fuller spectrum of shades. Indeed, jeans that fall outside the fail-safe palette bring a youthful energy to outfits. Coloured and patterned denim, in fact, are not only a lot of fun, yes, but can also be remarkably sophisticated when done right, as Dries Van Noten proves with this psychedelic jacket. And if anyone challenges this particular choice, explain to them that it’s inspired by Mr Verner Panton’s abstract retrofuturism. See? Sophisticated.
Which brings us to white jeans. Less controversial than coloured or printed denim, to be sure, but still somewhat divisive because of the spillage hazard. It’s a risk, but one we’re willing to take when they have the potential to instantly transform the wearer into a Dickie Greenleaf-type, as above. Here, we’ve teamed Berluti’s clean-cut ecru pair with a louche-looking linen polo shirt from Italian label Lardini and simple slides to perfect what might just be “the most effortlessly elegant summer outfit” of all time, if we do say so ourselves.
Having spent most of its life in style purgatory, double denim’s reputation is still questionable to some. And, we won’t lie, it remains a bit tricky to pull off. The easiest way around this is to, well, cheat. By which we mean follow the example above and opt for two different weights and washes of denim and thereby circumvent any and all “Canadian Tuxedo” jibes. For the main event, a rip-and-repair style pair of indigo jeans from Japanese workwear authority Beams and, up top, a lighter-blue jacket courtesy of OrSlow, a brand that employs specialist vintage looms and locally sourced materials to weave its denim.
DO YOUR CHORES
It’s true, the classic denim trucker shows no signs of falling out of fashion’s favour any time soon – it’s been a one of the central pillars in men’s casual wardrobes for decades already. But there is another contender in the denim outerwear leagues: the chore jacket, a garment that boasts just as much historical precedent. Think of it this way: what the trucker is to Americana, the chore jacket is to French workwear. A descendent of the hardy cotton-canvas bleu de travail worn by labourers in the early 19th century, when rendered in denim, as with this Beams F example, its practical merits are amplified. The addition of the belt here is another neat trick, elevating it to a level of rugged refinement that works well with a pair of pressed chinos and smart suede loafers.
The denim shirt hasn’t deviated much from its original template over the years simply because there’s no need to fix something that isn’t “broke”. Rather than completely reinventing it then, CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC has improved and enhanced the formula over its last few seasons: there have been Warholian Western ones, graphic interpretations of the rodeo variety and, for SS19’s Spielbergian collection, this Jaws-themed design. As well as Mr John Williams’ perilous two-note ostinato, the film’s instantly recognisable poster has left an outsized impression on the collective imagination, making it a copybook complement for the brand’s latest, Americana-themed chapter. When it comes to wearing it, there are few rules. Don it as you would any other denim shirt, but steer clear of any band or logo tees, to avoid a culture clash.
TRUST IN SELVEDGE
The world of denim can be an intimidating place for the uninitiated. In the deepest darkest corners of the web, you’ll find vast forums dedicated to debating the intricacies of various weaves and weights. On one point, though, you’ll find they agree: if you take your jeans seriously, don’t settle for anything but selvedge. This is hardly a revelation. Selvedge denim – that is, denim woven on narrower looms with a non-fray self-edge visible on the inner seam – tends to be stronger and sturdier. But not all selvedge denim is created equal. Given its recent exposure, some brands are cashing in on the term’s cachet while peddling a sub-standard product. To avoid disappointment, pick a pair that’s made in Japan. The ones from our own label, Mr P., for example, are crafted in Okayama, the beating heart of Japan’s prestigious jeans production, and only washed once after being indigo-dyed for a near-raw finish. As for how to wear them? Cuffed, of course.
RIP IT UP
Another denim development has been the return of the ripped jeans, a welcome turn of events for anyone who situates their sense of style circa 1970 (or 1980. Or 1990 – noticed a pattern here?) The pre-torn variety was once scorned for its apparent inauthenticity, but a new raft of brands have negated those accusations by adopting a thoroughly artisanal approach. Let’s call it the AMIRI effect. The LA-based label, which first drew interest with its shotgun-distressed wares, now dissects its skinny jeans with near-surgical precision, identifying natural points of wear-and-tear to emulate the natural aging process. For Venice Beach vibes, team them with Vans and anything tie-dyed. (AMIRI does a fine line in that, too.)
LOVE A LOGO
With logos taking up more and more real estate in our wardrobes, it was hardly surprising to see they had migrated south this season. A logo T-shirt or hoodie isn’t groundbreaking stuff these days, but during Valentino’s SS19 show, the label’s abbreviated “VLTN” moniker was plastered over trousers and, as seen above, jeans. The notion of clothing yourself in conspicuously branded wares has always had a whiff of irony to it, which is precisely why this particular iteration of the trend appeals to us. It’s a knowing nod to fashion’s all-consuming love affair with a logo. That said, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, so if you want to try this at home, it’s best practice to keep everything else relatively simple. A summery sweater and sandals or sneakers should do the trick.