Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blue Jeans

 My father and older brother had different opinions regarding appropriate church attire.  It was the late sixties, and fashion was a battle front in the revolution. When it came to putting on your best for an occasion Dad was strictly a suit and tie man, whereas Dan preferred jeans and anything that looked good with them. In a way, they both had their own uniforms.

Things were different back then; my older sister was sent home for wearing jeans to school – public school. Eventually the trail was worn thin by kids like my sister and brother and jeans became an accepted part of almost everyone’s wardrobe; jeans were not just for rebels anymore. Now when you get “dressed for the day,” it can mean shopping with your mother and sister or digging in a garden.

As a kid, I remember only three brands of jeans: Lee, Levi’s and Wrangler. Now there might be three grand. In addition to the various manufacturers, there are different colors, washes, weights and fits. They can cost twenty dollars or several hundred. What started off as a simple waist and length selection has become quite complicated, requiring a tutorial to make sense of the choices.

They go from slim and skinny, relaxed and loose, straight and tapered, above or below the waist and boot cut. Levi’s has categorized their line of jeans by style from their original 501s through 541 for an athletic approach and ending in 569 for a looser variety. There might even be a 501c3 for those who find non–profits a better fit.

Some purists suggest you should never wash your jeans.  Apparently this theory completes the cycle. Some jeans are so stiff when you first purchase them they will almost stand up by themselves – the same can be said for clothes that are never laundered.

When I find a pair of jeans I like, I hang onto them. Like my old t–shirts, I wear them to the point of indecency. Because as Mark Twain, a sharp dresser himself, once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”

Jeans are not seasonally dependent, and they don’t go out of style. When I buy a pair of jeans I plan on having them for years. In fact, I may pass them down to my grandson in my will.

William Carlos Williams, an American poet (1883–1963), wrote Tract, a poem that begins by professing to “teach you my townspeople how to perform a funeral…” If his instructions were followed it would knock the mortuary business on its rear. It includes suggestions on how to honor the deceased.

“No wreaths please--
especially no hot house flowers.
Some common memento is better,
something he prized and is known by:
his old clothes--a few books perhaps”

I would be eternally comfortable with such adornments. And if you’re taking notes, better dress me in blue jeans and a sport coat. I believe this may put to rest both my father’s and brother’s sides of the argument.

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