21 July 2012

Denim Swap Blues

Wednesday was the fourth swap of the year for the Swapaholics at 40Berkeley in Boston, and I opted out. While they throw a hell of a swap and I always find great things there was nothing that could tempt me to this months. The theme was Red, White, and Blues, a denim swap. Judging from the photos posted on their Facebook page I wasn't the only one with my doubts about this denim only concept. It seemed like swappers were in much shorter supply than usual, now there could be a lot of explanations. Sure its summer, people go on vacation, the weather is nice so you have other places to be, but given how many people braved the 102 degree heat last month for the dress swap I'm guessing that's not it. Normally part of the appeal of a swap is that there's something for everyone, different styles, types of garments, sizes, even eras of clothing all mixed together in one place with accessories mixed in to spice things up. Take that away and I think you loose the audience, just a bit. Now I should be honest, I am not a jeans person. Over the past six months I've probably worn denim twice (one was a jean skirt the other time I wore black jeans), not many people can say that. One of the Swapaholics (Amy) posted on their Facebook page she had 29 pairs of jeans to swap. 29? Now I am the last person to pass any judgement, people with 80 odd pairs of shoes and glass houses and all of that, but at least there are a plethora of different variations with shoes, most jeans after all look the same. So if you ever wonder why I don't buy into the cult of Levi Strauss here's my laundry list:

1.) Jeans are not comfortable. People always talk about that perfect pair of jeans, so well worn in that they mold to your body. I can't imagine wearing any pair of jeans long enough to get them to that state. I find jeans to be stiff and very hot despite the fact that they're made of cotton. I've tried many different styles and none seem to sit comfortable at the waistband. They also have an annoying tendency to stretch out then shrink again, so unless they are constantly laundered you never know how they're going to fit on any given day.

2.) They are invariably trendy. Jeans are not all created equal, if you wore flared jeans or even boot cut jeans (which were in style when I was in high school) on the street now you'd be laughed at. Skinny jeans are trendy and have been for a few years. Jeggings went in and out of style. Colored denim is hot but a year or two ago and people would have looked at you like you were an outcast from 21 Jump Street. I never thought I would like skinny jeans, my thighs don't need any more attention than they already draw to themselves, but they look moderately flattering on me. What I hate is that in the world of jeans what looks good on you is irrelevant, because trends will change.

3.) Blue is not a neutral color. Somewhere along the way the powers that be got together and decided that denim qualifies as a neutral, and anything goes with it. Now I seldom follow any type of matching rules and regulations but that just doesn't fly with me. If you wore a blue skirt the exact same color as your jeans but in a different fabric (say silk) with a bright purple top, most people would say it clashed or didn't match, but if the material is denim somehow that makes it okay. Does this make sense to anyone? It also seems that the most conservative dressers are always the ones to embrace the denim trend because somewhere along the way someone told them it was okay to treat denim asa neutral.

4.) They are the casual uniform. For years it was always torture going out with my friends because I felt like I had to wear jeans to satisfy this sort of unspoken casual dress code. I hated it because most of the rest of my wardrobe simply didn't translate to denim casual so the outfits were always vaguely awkward and looked nothing like something I would actually pick out to wear. Why jeans = acceptable casual wear is the norm I'm not sure. Casual is usually synonymous with comfortable, well to me a nice loose fitting cotton sundress is a lot freer and cooler than a pair of skinny jeans I can neither comfortably sit, stand, or eat in. When we have dress down days, screw it, I wear exactly what I normally wear. I've also stopped wearing a uniform when I go out, and you know what I get a lot more compliments and enjoy myself more than I ever did in jeans because I look and feel like myself.

 1.) Mossimo via Target, Skinny Premium Denim, very skinny with an even dark blue wash. Paid $6.99 on sale after Christmas 2010/early winter 2011

2.) Elle Skinny jeans via Kohls, moderately skinny led (its close but you can fit a boot under it) and medium blue with a textured pattern, my most expensive jeans at $16 purchased in the summer/fall of 2009.

3.) Identical to the pair above but in a solid black, bought at the same time and same price, these are my only pair of black pants so they do get more wear than most pairs of my jeans.

4.) Ann Taylor Loft, even dark blue wash with noticably gold stitching, purchased for $9.99 fall 2010

5.) Ann Taylor Loft Modern Flair trouser jeans (note the seam, I was once told real jeans don't have seam but I'll qualify them) even very dark blue, no noticeable stitching purchased for $12 Christmas 2011

6.) Ann Taylor Loft Modern Slim purchased for $2.99 in the summer of 2010, a very pale almost acid wash color originally, self dyed with RIT Burgundy liquid dye(which cost about the same as the jeans) in winter 2011.

I own six pieces of denim,  and I would be lying if my main motivation for buying any of them was anything other than the fact that they were on sale and really cheap. Being cheap I never feel guilty about buying them because while occasionally I will pull them out they are far from the first thing I go to when I need a fashion solution. Jeans are also something I don't have areal emotional attachment to, while other clothes I've had for ten years or more, unless a pair of jeans fits me really well I don't  have many qualms about letting them go. Especially because I've never spent more than $20 on a pair. To give even more perspective, looking through my pictures of the past ten years I found only two pictures from that time span of me wearing jeans. If that doesn't tell you something I don't know what does.

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