The New Way To Wear Denim
From skinny to selvedge, here’s how to get the most from your jeans
If you’re anything like us, you regard the denim in your wardrobe like an old friend. There are very few materials with which we have such a long-lasting relationship. Most of us wear denim day in, day out, watching it mature and change as we do. Perhaps it’s down to the way denim garments shape themselves to us (raw denim purists, for instance, even take baths wearing their selvedge jeans to ensure the best possible fit and fade), or perhaps it’s the fact it’s so hardwearing. Whatever it is, we seem to have a love affair with it like no other.
But, just as with any relationship, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. And there’s so much more to explore in the world of denim than indigo slim-cut jeans (although they do, of course, have their place). There is a variety of different washes, colours, fits and denim types out there, but this season there is even more choice as denim hoves back into view for many designers. To help, here is your sure-fire guide to getting the most out of your denim.
Jeans were invented in 1871 as stout workwear. It was the innovative addition of rivets in the seams that made them so durable. The heavyweight cotton twill they were made from quickly became synonymous with a hard day’s graft. Today, the workwear trend is back with a vengeance, and a denim chore jacket is an ideal way to build it into your outfit. Try wearing yours with wide-leg chinos for a fresh update on this classic look.
Bleached and distressed
Bleached or distressed denim lends a certain retro edge to an outfit. The key is to avoid the pre-ripped jeans and the badly executed fades of yesteryear, and instead opt for denim that looks and feels like it’s aged naturally. The bleached, straight-leg jeans here are as 1980s as it gets, which is why they work so well with the soft grey half-zip sweatshirt and chunky sneakers. The denim jacket, meanwhile, plays nicely with the other nods to sportswear in the rest of the outfit.
Ah, the Canadian tuxedo. Double denim is a tricky look to pull off, but when you get it right, as here, this two-punch combo can be a knockout. It’s a good idea to begin with a darker, indigo denim, which keeps everything feeling up-market and mature. In this case, both the slim-fit jeans and the jacket are from the same brand, which means the two garments match. The addition of a roll-neck sweater smartens up the look even further. Hey, it’s not a real tuxedo, but it’s close.
Sometimes you just need to mix things up a bit. The addition of patchwork, popular in the 1960s and 1970s and proffered by many Japanese brands in the 2010s, certainly achieves that end. It gives even the most staid outfit a certain carefree, creative, boho edge. Here, a statement jacket is toned down with a simple shirt, which is cut long to break up the textural mix. We like it.
Yes, skinny jeans have been for around a while. And there’s a reason for that. When worn correctly, they add an angular elegance to any silhouette, and who doesn’t want that? In this case, the ripped, stone-washed, skinny denim on offer has been teamed with a slogan T-shirt and oversized, floral-print shirt. The look is inspired by Californian skate culture, which is why the cream Vans sneakers work so well.
The trick to pulling off white denim is to keep everything simple and classic. Choosing neutral colours to complement it is a good start. Greys, in particular, work perfectly. In this look, the decision to go sockless, while wearing a chunky sweater, speaks of a certain trans-seasonal comfort. The white denim jacket has a somewhat boxy fit, which is given some refinement from the side-stripe trousers and polo shirt.
You can identify a pair of selvedge jeans by checking the inside-leg seam. If it’s finished with a band of red or orange, they’re selvedge, meaning that the fabric has been woven on a traditional short loom, rather than cut from a wide swatch of material. Denim purists tend to show off by turning up their jeans for all the world to see. Selvedge jeans marry particularly well with the workwear look, but in this case, the whole effect is lifted beyond the workaday with the addition of a bleached plaid overshirt from Sacai and a simple striped tee.