I did it again, I bit. A few weeks ago, while sitting around a friend’s dock after a lovely dinner and a few scotches, I was playing with my phone while the conversation was going on around me. An ad popped up for inexpensive selvedge jeans ($98-$128 price range) from an L.A. Company called Brave Star. I quickly read through the options and hit the button on a model called True Straight. That was a mistake. I didn’t realize you could order them hemmed at an additional price and that they all came 36 length. I also didn’t follow their recommendation and measure a pair of my favorites to get the right model/size. The jeans came and they fit will in the waist and I took them to my tailor to get hemmed. I tried them on again after and frankly, the leg opening is too big and the legs are too wide for my taste. I will probably sell them on EBay to try and re coup my some of my costs. I don’t have anything but good things to say about Brave Star and I will probably order a different pair now that I know the drill. The lesson here is to not order things after a few drinks and READ THE WEBSITE! (I know, we have all seen this in other contexts).
The problem that most men have with their jeans (if they have a problem and a lot of them wear the wrong jeans) is that they either over think it or under think it. The trend for jeans now is basic, subtle logos and not a lot of factory fades. Also for men, unless you put the holes in your self working on your car or skateboarding, just don’t when it comes to distressed jeans. Over thinking jeans is like over accessorizing, there is too much going on, think the horrible boot cuts of the oughts with the flap pocket and the rhinestone appliqués. Under thinking is buying them one size too big with the ankles looking rumpled and the rest of the jean looking like the worst “relaxed” fit.
I have written before about doing shrink to fits and raw denim so I won’t go back over that. The jeans that look the best are the ones that fit the best. A $40 pair of jeans that fits properly is better looking than a $200 pair of jeans that doesn’t properly fit. Ironically most expensive jeans are really trying to emulate inexpensive jeans ($200 RRL’s that look like $40 Levis 505’s). Actually Ralph Lauren’s late 80’s corduroy collared trucker jacket was a direct copy of the Lee Jeans classic. The trick is to buy your favorite jeans one size down. If your favorite jeans are size 36×32 Joe’s Jeans Classic Straights, buy a pair that is 34×32 in a darker wash. They will stretch out after one wear and fit like a million bucks. Jeans are sized so that when the waist size increases so does the thigh, knee and leg opening. Nobody wants skinny jeans but also the wide leg look went out with the last episode of Entourage. Straight legs are timeless.
If you are looking to replace your old jeans wardrobe, maybe you have lost some weight or gotten divorced or even have decided to start buying your own clothes (yeah I know married guys who let their wives dress them), I have a recommendation. First and foremost amongst my denim quiver are my Levi’s 501s, this was the first jean produced by Levi Strauss, is about 150 years old and has undergone many changes throughout the years. I have had at least one pair in my closet since 1983. Currently, they come with a mid rise, a slim straight leg with about an 8-8.5″ leg opening depending on waist size. They come in a variety of washes and colors. The basic non stretch 100% cotton ones come in dark stonewash, medium stonewash, light stonewash, rinse and rigid Indigo. Buy one of each one size down from your old jeans. Then wear them, wear them wear them. They will come a little longer than marked so you can cuff them if you want (that’s what I do) and they will shrink about 2% if you wash them in warm water. Make sure you wear them a bit before washing so that the waist gets stretched out. You can also get a waist stretcher so when you wash them you can stretch the waist back out to your size (I have one)
A couple of hot tips. Do not buy weird colors or models on EBay. Don’t buy the weird fades of yesteryear. Dark is in for winter but not so much for Spring and Summer. There used to be a seller on EBay who sold destroyed 501’s, those are iffy. Actually all used jeans are iffy on EBay. Jeans shrink and sellers will sell based on the marked size not the actual size. Look for actual size if you want to do this. Also the Brave Star website has a great tutorial on how to measure your own jeans to size for new ones.