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March 27, 2008

I Put My Blue Jeans On….

Thursday Thirteen

Most people own a pair of jeans. Finding the right fit can be an exercise in frustration and after many years of trying on jeans, can I say dark rinse, mid-rise, boot-cut. That’s me, baby. I’ll admit that having found my style I’m now feeling suitably smug. I did, however, take a moment to ponder about jeans and their history. IMO there’s inspiration to be found while checking out men in jeans, although if you repeat this to my hubby, I’m denying all!

So, in honor of jeans and the clever man who invented them:


1. The word jeans comes from a type of material made in Europe. The material, called jean, was named after sailors from Genoa in Italy, because they wore clothes made from it. The word ‘denim’ probably came from the name of a French material, serge de Nimes: serge (a kind of material) from Nimes (a town in France).

2. During the eighteenth century workers wore jean cloth because the material was very strong and it did not wear out easily.

3. In 1853, the California gold rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 24-year-old German immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of dry goods with the intention of opening a branch of his brother’s New York dry goods business. Shortly after his arrival, a prospector wanted to know what Mr. Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, “You should have brought pants!,” saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last.

4. Exhausting his original supply of canvas, as the demand grew for his long-wearing overalls, Levi switched to a sturdy fabric called serge, which was made in Nimes, France. Originally called serge de Nimes, this name was soon shortened to “denim”. And, with the development of an indigo dye, the brown color was soon replaced with the now familiar deep blue, the trademark color of most jeans made today.

5. One of Levi’s many customers was a tailor named Jacob Davis. Originally from Latvia, Jacob lived in Reno, Nevada, and regularly purchased bolts of cloth from the wholesale house of Levi Strauss & Co. Among Jacob’s customers was a difficult man who kept ripping the pockets of the pants that Jacob made for him. Jacob tried to think of a way to strengthen the man’s trousers, and one day hit upon the idea of putting metal rivets at the points of strain, such as on the pocket corners and at the base of the button fly.

6. These riveted pants were an instant hit with Jacob’s customers and he worried that someone might steal this great idea. He decided he should apply for a patent on the process, but didn’t have the $68 that was required to file the papers. He needed a business partner and he immediately thought of Levi Strauss. In 1872 Jacob wrote a letter to Levi to suggest that the two men hold the patent together. Levi, who was an astute businessman, saw the potential for this new product and agreed to Jacob’s proposal. On May 20, 1873, the two men received patent no.139,121 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That day is now considered to be the official “birthday” of blue jeans.

7. Jeans can be worn very loose in a manner that completely conceals the shape of the wearer’s lower body, or they can be snugly fitting and accentuate the body, specifically the buttocks. Historic photographs indicate that in the decades before they became a staple of fashion, jeans generally fit quite loosely, much like a pair of bib overalls without the bib. Indeed, until 1960, Levi Strauss denominated its flagship product “waist overalls” rather than “jeans”.

8. The orange thread traditionally used to sew Levi Strauss blue jeans was intentionally selected to match the copper rivets that doubled the durability of the jeans.

9. How many pair of jeans do you own? According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™, each American woman and man own eight pairs of jeans on average.

10. What kind of jeans are you? Take the test.

11. One of the best as well as easiest things you can do to protect your jeans in the laundry is to turn them inside out before washing.

When possible, use cold water to wash your jeans along with a small amount of vinegar added to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. The cold cycle is much easier on your blue jeans and helps to prevent fading. The vinegar is an added touch to preserve the color.

Another way to preserve the color of your jeans is to buy a detergent for dark colors such as Woolite Dark Laundry Fabric Wash. This detergent is made especially to help preserve dark colors and works very well for blue jeans.

12. Choose a style that’s right for your body type. A slim figure is well-suited to low-rise skinny, straight or boot-cut jeans. The latter two cuts are more flattering on muscular, athletic shapes. If you are pear-shaped, try low-rise boot-cut or flared jeans for balance. A higher-rise is recommended for curvier girls, as it better conceals love-handles. However, every figure is different and it really is best to try on many different cuts. To make your butt look perkier, choose a jean with low-set back pockets that are closer to the center.

13. I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes. ~Yves Saint Laurent

Do you like to wear jeans?


  1. Jennifer Shirk

    I do like jeans, but I haven’t found a good pair since my Calvin Kleins got wholes in the knees a few years ago. :cry:
    I took the test: Apparently I’m mostly a jean skirt. LOL!

  2. Marlayne

    ow my, this is such a coincidence..i was on a find-the-jeans-that-fit-me- trip yesterday. I am not so tall and have short, but broad so it is difficult to find somthing that fits me..i spend two hours in most of the shops to fit everything..and always i have to let them taken in at the edges that touch my feet..very frustrating!

  3. Gina Ardito

    I’m actually not comfortable in most jeans. But when I do wear them, it’s Gloria Vanderbilts for me. She’s got the right length and the extra curve to the hips so the seam doesn’t cut into me.

  4. Adelle Laudan

    Jeans are a staple, aren’t they? lol Most frustrating thing for me is the standard leg is 32in and my leg is 36″+ lol Not fun! Happy T13!

  5. Jennifer McKenzie

    LOL!! I’m Baggy Jeans.
    And that video is HILARIOUS!!!!!!!
    Awesome TT, Shelley.

  6. Tara Nichols

    There’s nothing quite like a great pair of jeans. I rarely wear anything else and now I know why.

  7. MsMenozzi

    My favorite jeans right now are a flare-cut pair of Levi’s – I’m gonna wear ’em out, though, even though they’re a size too big for me!

    My only problem with jeans is that I have difficulty finding a tailor who will fix ’em for me. :( I have several pair that are practically new, but just too big (finally!). Waaaah!

    Great TT – very interesting!

  8. Kaige

    That commercial was hysterical, Shelley! And I gotta say, nothing like a guy in a well-fitting pair of jeans.

    Happy TT!

  9. Heather

    I only own three pair of jeans, all “Lee relaxed straight leg / at the waist.” I have difficulty wearing most jeans since a knee injury several years ago. The fabric pulls too tight against the knee and makes it ache something fierce. Lee’s relaxed fit are the most comfortable I’ve been able to find, and even those I can’t wear all the time the way I used to.

  10. Alice Audrey

    I feel so educated now. I knew part of this, but certainly not all. Thanks.

  11. Gabriele

    I must be the exception. :mrgreen: I don’t own a pair of blue jeans and never liked them.

  12. Susan Helene Gottfried

    I love my jeans… *sigh*

    And yes, I DO wash them in cold. And dry them on low, too; otherwise, they shrink and the Tour Manager complains. Stinker.

  13. Debora Dennis

    What a great and informative TT13! Yes, I do love my jeans, but I confess, over the years I’ve switched from skin tight to loose fit. :)

  14. A. Catherine Noon

    I love this idea. I didn’t realize there was such a long, rich history involved in jeans, either. Thanks!

  15. Shelley Munro

    I love jeans. It sounds as if some of you have problems with finding jeans that fit well. That was me. :mrgreen:

    The video clip cracked me up. There were lots of fun clips to choose from.

  16. Amy Ruttan

    I love my jeans. Can’t live without them. I have about eight pairs. Wear my favorite though almost every chance I get.

    The test says I’m bootcut and that doesn’t surprise me. It’s the only kind I buy. LOL!

  17. Chloe Devlin

    Interesting. I don’t wear jeans anymore. The fabric is too tight and has no give. I like pants that stretch with my ever-stretching body. :grin:


  18. Shelley Munro

    Chloe – stretch jeans. Have you tried them?

    Amy – It’s funny how one pair becomes a particular favorite. I have a favorite too.

  19. julia

    I currently have two pairs of jeans, but believe it or not, they’re not my favorite pants to wear. I prefer my lycra-blend cotton pants, probably because my bad knee likes the give better. Jeans always press on my knee and it’s hard to feel comfy when I’m always protecting my knee.

  20. pussreboots

    My children wear jeans but my husband and I both find them uncomfortable. I haven’t owned a pair since I was in high school. Even then I only owned 2 pairs at most. I can’t imagine owning 8 pairs.

  21. Debbie Mumford

    Who knew? Great educational list (with some great fringe benefits!)

  22. Shelley Munro

    Paige, I prefer blue jeans as well.

    Julia – I agree, the can be unforgiving on knees. I found that out when I fell off my bike recently and tried to wear jeans a few days later!

    Pussreboots – I was going to say eight was way more than I had, but then I did a count. Um, I counted nine. :blush:

    Hi Debbie – I knew jeans had a bit of a history but didn’t realize how much until I went digging.

  23. Christina Phillips

    I like jeans but HATE shopping for them, since I have short legs and it’s almost impossible to find a pair that doesn’t puddle around my ankles *sigh* At the moment I only possess one 3/4 length pair, so come winter I’ll have to brave the shops again :eek:

  24. Gwen Mitchell

    Wow – that is some interesting stuff. It’s funny to look at the history of such every-day items. Thanks for sharing, Shelley.

    I must not be a typical woman. I’ve only got three pair. :cool:

    Oh, and:
    SKINNY JEANS suit you. They are versatile, just like you, and can be worn with an edgy shirt or a classy shirt. Nice.: D

  25. Kathleen Oxley

    Great list, love the info! I would wear jeans everyday if I could! And when I find a pair that works, I go buy several of the same ones so I am stocked. :roll: