I read an article a few weeks ago about an age limit for wearing jeans. I can’t remember the exact source, but it was one of those things everyone shares on Facebook. The article, if I recall, was from one of the women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan or something similar.
The article stated quite plainly that men approaching 50 or past 50 years of age should never wear jeans. According to their experts, the casual pant of choice for us middle-aged men should be khakis. That’s all well and good, but I still like my jeans. I can’t ever think of a time when khakis would replace the jeans as the go-to, rough and tumble casual wear. I have worn jeans for as long as I can remember and will continue to do so. To me, khaki pants are the entry way into dressy clothes. Khakis go with loafers, not with sneakers.
Shortly before Christmas, I ripped a hole in the knee of my favorite jeans. I’m too old to be walking around with my knees hanging out, so I figured it was time to add another pair to the rotation. My wife and I drove to the mall and began the search for the right pair. When I was younger, I wore Levi’s exclusively. They were durable, affordable and pretty much the only game in town. Sure, there were Wranglers and Lee jeans, but Levi’s were what everyone wore. The pair I was replacing were Levi’s. They fit just right, but had become a bit threadbare. Upon further inspection, the knee was not the only casualty. There was a big fray in the cuff of the left leg. There was a hole in one of the back pockets and there was the start of another hole in the, well, crotch. That would have been a little more serious than a knee hanging out.
You previously had two choices: boot cut or straight leg. They kinda explained themselves. If you wore boots, you got the boot cut so the pant leg would fit over the shaft of the boot. If you wore shoes, you got the straight leg. In the store I went into, there were classic fit, relaxed fit, boot cut, straight leg, tapered leg, and skinny jeans. There was no way I was going to try on the skinny jeans. At 47 years old, I had no desire to look like a skinny teenager. I tried the classic fit and the relaxed fit. It looked like the classic fit was for me. The relaxed fit was so relaxed, it looked like the back pockets were behind my knees. There were a dozen different shades of blue. There were a dozen shades of pretty much every color. There were button-fly and zipper-fly.
Levi’s now has complicated the choice by issuing every style a different number. Back in the ’80s, when I was a teenager, the Levi’s 501 button-fly style was the jean of choice. They still make them, but they are thinner and less durable than they used to be. Of course, they are much more expensive. The 505 is the same jean, but with a button-fly. It only goes down hill from there. With each color and each fit, there is a different number and you find yourself trying to figure out the square root and the lowest common denominator to find a pair of pants you are going to wear when painting the garage.
Beyond the waist and inseam measurements, there should be no math.
I found a pair of jeans that fit me perfectly until I saw the price. The jeans I liked and fit me properly were almost $70. I had just spent $80 on a pair of sneakers a few weeks before (that’s another column altogether) and really did not want to spend that kind of money on a pair of pants. These weren’t pants I was going to wear to a boardroom, church or a wedding. These were pants I was going to wear at work and out on the shooting range on the weekend.
I wasn’t looking for designer jeans. I didn’t want someone else’s name on my clothes. I wanted a hardscrabble workhorse of a pant. I wanted a pickup, not a Mercedes.
Needless to say, I did not buy the $70 jeans.
I did not buy Levi’s, either. I found a pair of jeans in a thrift store, with no label, no rips, no tears and no $70 price tag. They fit well, were already broken in and looked presentable. We paid $6 for them.
I don’t know who Tom Ford is, but he left a great-fitting pair of jeans at the Goodwill. At six bucks, I’d say they are worth every penny.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.