But it don’t sing and dance
And it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be
Forever in blue jeans
Neil Diamond, 1979
Many moons ago, when I finally got my driver’s license ( after failing the first time), my first solo driving adventure was to the Willowbrook Mall to buy a pair of Gap jeans. They were button fly hip hugger bell bottoms, the kind when you bent over, you could see- you know what!
Over the years, the styles have changed but I’ve worn them all- flared, bootcut, faded, and even the dreaded Mom jean. Today, I favor skinny jeans, or their popular knockoff, the jegging. But I draw the line at those distressed jeans worn by the young or wanna be young. Some of those ripped up masterpieces cost up to $600!
Blue jeans! Icon of American culture and arguably the world’s most popular article of clothing. Consumers in the US buy approximately 450 million pairs of jeans every year. Levi’s, Gap, Wranglers, Guess, Calvin Klein, Lee, Tommy Hilfiger, the brands are endless.
Dressed up with a slinky top and heels, or dressed down with a flannel shirt and boots, jeans can fit everyone’s taste and budget.
Where did it all begin?
Jeans are pants made from denim or dungaree cloth, and are named after a city in Genoa, Italy, where cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane, was manufactured. They were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Stauss in 1873. Davis was a Nevada salesman who came up with the idea of using metal rivets to reinforce the stitching of work trousers. Strauss bankrolled the idea, and jeans became the workwear for miners during the Gold Rush.
The popularity of jeans grew in the 20th century, as servicemen in the ’40’s and ’50’s favored them as off-duty wear. Thus, a quintessentially American “cowboy lifestyle” was born.
Wearing jeans became a symbol of youth rebellion during the 1950’s when James Dean wore them in “Rebel Without a Cause.”
By the 1960’s and ’70’s, jeans became synonymous with the freewheeling hippie lifestyle, and by the ’80’s, aided by the sexually charged Calvin Klein ads- with Brooke Shields claiming that “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins”, Wall Street had reached Main Street.
Today, jeans are worn by practically everyone, from toddlers to senior citizens- of course, some of today’s seniors are those same hippies who wore them in the first place!
Sometimes I have to wonder if the popularity of jeans will diminish in time. For example, where are those lady’s gowns and bonnets, those men’s breeches and waistcoats worn by the Victorian set? Or even the tea length dresses and pill box hats, the fedoras and double breasted suits so popular with folks in the not-so-long ago 1940’s and ’50’s?
Will jeans eventually become a distant memory, something our great-grandchildren will make fun of when they see pictures in the cloud, ( or whatever technology they will be using then?)
Will we be “forever in blue jeans”?
Probably not, but for now, how relaxing to slip on my favorite pair, dressed up or down, and greet the day.