My favourite pair of jeans died over the weekend. And by die, I mean they suffered the kind of fate normally reserved for characters in a Wes Craven horror film. As such, I was faced with the intrepid task of having to buy myself a new pair.
Now, I take a level of seriousness to buying jeans that some people do to choosing cars. Or a suit, which is probably a much more appropriate analogy considering that denim has become as ubiquitous in the office as the more traditional tweeds and checks. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that for some, taking the time to choose the right pair of jeans has the same long-term benefits and pay-offs as getting a tailor-made suit.
"Buying a pair of jeans is not like buying a t-shirt," says Richard Bell from Australian label, Neuw. "They're an investment and an extension of your personality. The thing about denim is that it changes to fit you – that's how a regular pair of jeans becomes your favorite I-cant live-without-them pair of jeans."
So, what goes in to the process of choosing the 'perfect jeans'?
The most obvious hurdle is getting the right fit for your body. I say obvious but for some reason this can be the hardest part. Personally, I'm not a fan of the skinny leg craze. This is probably because a lot of the guys wearing them are wearing them at least three sizes too small. But I also find that the more 'relaxed' fitting jeans tend to look sloppy around the ankles. Thankfully, there are now some good compromises that are combining the comfort of a relaxed fit with the tailored look of a slender leg.
"One of the main fit considerations for guys when buying jeans is their thighs," says Bell. "Often they might say that they would like a slim leg jean but they play footy so their thighs are a bit big for that skinny rock-n-roll look."
Thanks to genetics and a life of enforced sport, I can relate to this particular problem and you may have experienced it, too. The solution is a tapered, or carrot, fit. "We have just introduced a new fit for exactly that guy called 'The Ray'," explains Bell. "It has a square top block, a longer vintage rise, slightly looser thigh but comes in to a tapered slim calf and ankle."
Other labels such as Nudie, Levi's and Lee, whose Tape Ted, 508 and L2 Slim & Narrow respectively, are great options that provide room where it's needed without compromising a more streamlined look.
Next up is choosing the right colour, or wash. Frankly, this is easy. There are really only three options – dry, or raw denim; pre-washed, which is just raw denim that has been through a rinse process; and black, so you can add some variety to your wardrobe.
Swedish label Nudie has played a huge part in bringing the benefits of raw denim to the attention of the masses. This is jeans in their most "natural" state and, admittedly, they can be slightly stiff when you first put them on. But the effort of wearing them in is something that definitely pays off in the long run and is well worth the wait.
"As indigo is a living colour it will go through a natural process of bleeding as the jeans are worn," says Nudie's Bec Alton. "The creases and forms of the body will be imprinted into the jeans as the indigo naturally bleeds out over time. After about six months of good wear your jeans can be washed and you will see the story of your wear on the denim."
Now, if the idea of not washing your jeans for six months or more makes you dry-heave, there are a few tricks you can apply to minimise the gross-out factor, such as sticking them in the freezer overnight. This helps kill off bacteria that cause odours. Otherwise, Mr Black's "Denim Refresh' which you can find in General Pants stores, is a deodorising spray that helps neutralise the memories of spilt beer from the night before.
When it comes to choosing pre-wash, the best advice is the simpler the better. Especially since many fad washes date faster than they came into fashion. Anyone remember Calvin Klein's Dirty Denim? Exactly. The benefit of pre-washed jeans, however, is that they've already gone through a wear cycle, making them a little more comfortable from the get-go than raw denim and less prone to shrinking.
And lastly, and most simply, just get what works for you. "Regardless of what is currently on-trend,"says Alton, "there is no better style than the one that fits you right. If the trend doesn't fit you well, then give it a miss and go for something that suits your body shape. "
What jeans suit you best?