Pair of jeans raises disturbing questions to fashion victim

When I was growing up, there was a huge status thing around Levi’s. Anything else was a huge step down in terms of respect. Wranglers? Get out of here. Lord forbid you should wear Toughskins or something. As a result, I made a royal pain in the ass of myself pestering my mom when we went back-to-school shopping, and as a result she’d watch the papers until someone ran a sale, and I’d get two pairs.

The thing I loved about them at the time beyond lowering my social visibility was that theose things were well-nigh indestructible. I spent a lot of my time running around in the woods, clambering down stream beds, and generally beating those things up, and I’d often outgrow them before they came apart (the knees, generally, or the cuffs.

As I grew older and I had to start paying for my clothes, I stopped buying them, because I wasn’t the ad-watcher my mom was, and the social acceptance went way down. But if I ever came across some ridiculous discount, I’d pounce. Better to pay more for a quality pair that lasts than burn through six pairs of cheapo brand.

Then I broke with the brand entirely when they went the Walmart route. Levi’s started to produce a down-brand crappy jean they could sell for less at Walmart, and to me, it destroyed the company: they went from being a high-quality, high-cost item I aspired to to competing with the cheap-o crap-quality clothes I didn’t like at all. Soon, they stopped producing any clothes in the US, and Levi’s became something else entirely — just the tag, and a tag that carried a significant price premium. The one time I bought them, the quality was terrible, and they were toast within months.

I stopped caring for years. I bought my jeans wherever and didn’t care. I’m unwilling to pay big money for designer jeans, I can’t find a decent source for oragnic cotton/hemp jeans or anything interesting, and my uniform for a good chunk of the year is Boring Suburban Dad:
– khaki shorts
– dark-colored T-shirt

Which, and this is another topic entirely, really annoys me. I don’t like looking lame, but I don’t know any better. I want to wear shorts in the summer, I’m sorry. How do I do that and not look like I’m about to mow the lawn or start complaining about kids today with their text messaging and their blogging?

That ties in to what happened a couple months ago: the last time I was shopping, I happened across some 501s on a huge discount — as cheap as anything else at the store. And they were the Mexican Levi’s, too. I bought a couple pairs and went through the ardous process of getting them to fit properly.

They look great. They fit, they’re comfortable, they look good — people actually compliment me on my jeans. And how I look generally on days I wear them. Even I look at myself before I go and think “Huh, I do look significantly better than normal.” This is unheard of, as I have no fashion sense at all (see above).

I maybe have five, six pieces of clothes that I’d say make me look nice, and now three of them are pairs of jeans. I’m a little disturbed.

I don’t know what to do. I have mixed feelings about the whole things, and I’m spending a lot of time pondering questions that never occurred to me not that long ago:
– Has the non-US build quality of Levi’s improved that much over the years?
– Is it worth spending a little more to get jeans I like?
– Are there even better options that don’t cost $300 a pair?
– If some well-fitting jeans make that big of a difference, are there other similar upgrades available?
– Really? I should spend some more time on how I dress?
– I can appreciably improve my appearance through clothing choices?
– How do I learn to do that?

1 thought on “Pair of jeans raises disturbing questions to fashion victim

  1. Angele

    Now that I think of it, you do wear khaki shorts a lot.

    It depends on why you want to look nice. People in Seattle dress like crap compared to most cities in which I’ve lived, so it can’t be to fit in. For impression management at work? To rev Jill’s engines? To be the best D you can be?

    My husband, your doppelganger, now has an array of clothing he never would have imagined 3 years ago. Upscale jeans, slim-fitting Italian shirts (actually purchased in Italy), Zegna suit, cashmere sweaters, Bruno Magli shoes, et al. Partly due to his increased visibility on TV, partly because he figured out that he doesn’t want to look like crap. Except for the majority of days when he still walks around the house in basketball shorts. Like you, he is tall and slim. Clothes work well on your kind of body.

    To address your questions:
    Levi’s: Sorry, can’t help you. I have no idea.
    Worth spending more for jeans? Absolutely. You can’t imagine how much better.
    Sub-$300 options? Absolutely. J’s jeans are from Lucky, which isn’t the best but is fine at that price point. Try Kuhlman in Belltown, where J bought several swanky shirts. Or Riveted, but set a price limit in your mind before you go (mine is $200).
    Other upgrades? Jeans may make the biggest difference. Well-fitting shirts are good. The right overcoat can be pretty striking, especially in your climate. Cashmere sweater instead of sweatshirt is stylin’.
    Really? Ask the Missus for her honest opinion, and then do whatever she says. (She may say, spend more time on doing the dishes, or maybe she’ll say that it is worth it.) Even if you don’t change your everyday dress, you could buy just a few pieces and upgrade the Special Occasion D.
    Appreciably? Absolutely.
    How? Go downtown to Butch Blum and ask for Tim; he will teach you (just set a price limit before you go in — J spent over $2k on one visit, and could have kept going but didn’t). Also go to Kuhlman. I hear good things about Blackbird in Ballard.

    A few years ago I declared that $200 jeans were a dealbreaker: if someone wanted to spend more than $200 on jeans, I didn’t want to be their friend. This was before premium denim was ubiquitous. Now, my jeans cost $190. Still less than $200 (even less accounting for inflation), but I’ve become one of them. Really, it’s way better.

    Now, Wal-Mart jeans can be the dealbreaker.

Comments are closed.