Our Favorite Article of Clothing Tuesday, Jan 6 2015 


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


It’s Only a Number Thursday, Oct 11 2012 

I wear a size 00 – at Chico’s. This is rather odd since most everywhere else I where a 4.

Actually, I have to admit that my size 4s of years ago are tighter than they used to be. I’d love to believe the clothes shrunk in the wash but the scale tells me otherwise. Sizes are more generous than in the past.

Have you experienced this trend?

We commonly hear that Marilyn Monroe wore a 14 but that 1960 size is the equivalent of an 8 today. Most manufacturers have been increasing proportions for their sizes  for decades. And that’s really a smart marketing move. Who wouldn’t prefer to shop where they can purchase a size 8 rather than a 14?

Until the 1920s women’s clothing was custom-made. Although considered a fashionable idea, sales remained slim for decades because there was no consistency in sizing between manufacturers. It was difficult to buy clothes that fit well.

In 1939 and 1940 The National Bureau of Home Economics of the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted the first major survey of women’s proportions. They gathered 59 measurements from about 15,000 American women to determine average sizing. It wasn’t until 1957 when those findings were incorporated into a commercial industry standard.

However, as the average women’s bodies continuously changed so did the standard. The Department of Commerce finally gave up and withdrew the standard in 1983.

So now we are back to the uncertainty of sizing. Most of our closets have two to three sizes of clothes with the same proportions from different manufacturers.

The key to finding articles that fit well is to check each company’s sizing chart rather than the size number on the tag. This is particularly important for online shopping where you can’t try on the items until you receive them at your door.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

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