ICONIC FASHION: The Joy of Jeans

So what’s it to be: baggy or bootcut, flared or straight-leg, high-waisted or low-rise, relaxed fit or slouch fit? Buying a new pair of jeans is no easy feat these days, what with the immountable piles of different styles, shades and fits which populate every clothes-shop. Choose from a £3 Tesco pair, or skip up through the high-street offers on Cornmarket, or perhaps even to the never – will – afford – on – this – student – loan – designer styles, from the old classics of Jordache and Calvin Klein to the new, rising brands VB and Sass & Bide. Screw the essay – this is a challenge. Boyfriend jeans? Just nick a pair from a Teddy Hall boy getting naked on a crew date. Skinny jeans? Honestly, how did a fashion that only serves to accentuate the hips and the thighs ever become so popular and, apparently, a wardrobe stable – now available in pink, turquoise or red.
Gone are the days of old, when overalls made out of a strong, practical blue material called denim were made for factory workers in Western America. Supplied by a Mr Levi-Strauss, the men’s jeans would have the zipper, as it is now, down the front, whereas women’s had the zipper down the right-hand side. Flattering. In the 1930s, Western films took America by storm and as cinema-goers were enraptured by the hardened, authentic cowboys on screen, with them came their jeans. They henceforth became the symbol of all things rugged, virile and independent, moving away from association with labourers and obtaining, by the 1950s, a popular fashion status. The original Levian, John Wayne, was soon replaced by James Dean – rebellious, smouldering, and devastatingly sexy in denim.
Fast forward several decades and every American, on average, owns seven pairs. Inspired to buy yourself some more now, in the hope of reaching a Rebel Without a Cause level of seduction? Button up that coat, and check out the myriad on offer. But be warned: thou shalt be careful in thy purchase, and thou must avoid anything which will transform your perfect denims into a devastating tragedy. No diamanté studding (so no River Island, then), no excessive bleaching which suggests you’ve had an accident in the Scout’s cupboard, and absolutely NO over-the-top, obviously-fake, perfectly-square ‘rips’ and ‘tears’. So with all these guidelines, it’s back to the changing-room…

by Gini Sharvill