Denim

sammark3 Denim

Outfit: Oliver Peoples sunglasses :: Black Fleece sweater :: Michael Kors shirt :: Tellason jeans ::  Gordon Rush shoes

Photo credit: Dana Patricia

One of my close friends, Sam, is a denim expert working in the apparel industry here in San Francisco. I had an opportunity to chat with her about denim, where we discussed how it’s made, why it’s one of our favorite materials, and what we should look for when shopping for denim.

While enjoying the nice San Francisco summer (yes, summer arrives in SF for a week during fall, and that’s about it), we came up to several mutually agreed upon points:

1. Denim belongs in your closet. Period.

2. It’s smart to put in the extra money for a nice pair of jeans. There are too many crappy jeans out there, and oftentimes they’re not worth the trouble.

3. Denim on denim is always case by case.

4. For men, it’s all about the solid dark wash straight leg jean.

I’d like to elaborate on each point, because the topic of denim certainly deserves some attention.

sammark1 Denim

1. Denim belongs in your closet.

I think blue jeans are one of the most essential pieces to have in your wardrobe. They are durable, stylish, versatile, comfortable, cool… need I go on? A pair of blue jeans can work in the most casual of situations and can also be dressed up significantly (think blazer, dress shirt, dress shoes, dark wash denim). I don’t think I need to do any more convincing, just please get a pair if you don’t already.

2. It’s smart to put in the extra money for a nice pair of jeans.

So there is a substantial difference between a $15 pair of jeans at Old Navy or Walmart, and a pair of $180 APC New Standards. Here’s a great video that I think explains some of these differences. Now, I’m not saying you need to spend over $100 on a pair of jeans, as many of you would find that ridiculous with so many other inexpensive alternatives out there. However, I do think you need to examine and try on a bunch of denim before you make a decision.

Between $60-$100 can probably get you a pretty nice pair of jeans, Levis 501s being a solid choice in that range if it fits your body. My biggest recommendation would be to shop for sales at Nordstrom Rack for denim. I will say though, that there is another tier of denim when you cross the $100 mark. Going into selvedge raw denim has been a treat for me, and can be for you as well. Basically this type of denim has not been washed or treated in anyway. They are like cardboard when you first get them, but you can start to soften them up, build creases/marks in them, and really make them your own just by the way you wear them. Just putting it out there, as my experience has been great.

sammark2 Denim

3. Denim-on-denim is always case-by-case.

As a general rule, we don’t want to pair denim jackets with denim pants. The whole Canadian tuxedo thing is a no-no. However, I wouldn’t say this is always the case. What we want to do is make sure our tops and bottoms don’t match too much. If you have a black denim jacket and a pair of medium wash denim pants on, I think it can work. Also, denim shirts are super relevant today as well, and the same rule applies. Make sure your shirt isn’t the same shade or color as your pants.

4. It’s all about solid dark wash straight jeans.

Sam deals with washing, dying, distressing, etc. on every different type of jean out there. It was fascinating hearing all the things denim goes through before it ends up on a shelf at the mall. However, as cool as this detailing can be, I think it’s important to have a solid, dark wash, non-distressed, straight leg jean. In terms of fit, forget bootcut, relaxed cut, and skinny jeans. Stick with a straight or slim straight look. Also, keep it dark. Indigo’s, greys, and blacks all can work with a lot of outfits, and can be dressed up easily, while slimming you as well. Find a great pair and wear ‘em in!

sammark5 Denim

So there you go! Denim in four quick (eh, maybe not quick) points! Also a huge thanks to Sam for discussing denim with me, even outside of her work hours.

  • Zach

    So why only dark wash jeans, and why no bootcut?

  • http://simplermandotcom.wordpress.com simplerman

    Great question! Definitely nothing wrong with either a bootcut or a non-dark pair of jeans. I personally own a pair of bootcut jeans and also two pairs of medium wash jeans myself.

    However, I don’t necessarily think that either of these styles are the most optimal for your first or “main” pair of jeans. Mainly because they are slightly less versatile than the straight leg dark wash jean. Hope that helps!