DSCN1130

My husband once questioned why I buy inexpensive denim jeans, which I wear  nearly every day, yet spend considerably more on a dress for a handful of special occasions.

Jeans must be the most commonly worn article of clothing, at least in the U.S. Nearly every American owns a pair or more. We have dress jeans, everyday jeans, and work jeans in various shades of blue as well as black, white, and other colors. We also have a wide selection of styles including baggy, boot leg, skinny, casual, and dressy. Jeans are our go-to pants and worn everywhere from hiking trails to fine dining restaurants, churches, and the workplace.

Jeans were introduced to Americans in 1853 during the California gold rush when Levi Strauss, a 24-year-old German immigrant, made sturdy overalls from canvas for prospectors. After complaints about the rough fabric, Strauss used a twilled cotton called “serge de Nimes.” The fabric soon became known as denim and the overalls called blue jeans. Strauss received a U.S. patent on blue jeans in 1873.

The word “jeans” most likely comes from the French word for Genoa as serge de Nimes originated in Genoa, Italy and Nimes, France. By the 17th century, the fabric was commonly used in clothing of the working class in Northern Italy.

According to Wikipedia, after actor James Dean wore jeans in the movie, Rebel without a Cause, the pants became a symbol of rebellion and sometimes banned in theaters, restaurants, and schools. I remember as a young child in the 60s resisting my mother’s insistence that I wear my brother’s hand-me-down jeans. I thought then that they were only for boys. But it wasn’t long before they became part of my daily wardrobe.

Jeans popularity has endured due to their durability and longevity. We keep them for years, as they get more comfortable with wear and washing. Ironically, as we search for the best prices, they are our best wardrobe investment.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

 

Advertisements