Ode to worn-out blue jeans

[][1]The jeans had a couple of rips in the knees, and a small one in the seat where the pocket was sewn onto the pants. That was enough for me to decide they were unwearable.So, one fine fall day while I was in college, I took some scissors and ripped the denim to shreds, with an end result that was more holes than pants. Then I tossed the finished product out onto the balcony, expecting I'd later deposit them into a Dumpster.That's where my friend, Bryan, found the jeans. He returned to his dormitory room and put them on over a tasteful pair of boxer shorts - and wore them the rest of the semester, looking much cooler than I had when the jeans were brand new. I was mildly bitter.That's one reason - but just one - why I can't give up my favorite pair of jeans.They're a pair of pre-faded Levis, bought during the summer of 1998. I bought a couple of other pairs during that same shopping trip, but these jeans somehow fit just right, remaining comfortable while accommodating my gains and losses in weight.I wore them so often that they were, I thought, completely worn out three years later. There were small holes in the crotch, another couple in the seat and one rip in the knee. They weren't the kind of pants you'd want to wear in public.They stayed on an upper shelf in my closet for three months. Then I took them down again.Today the holes are bigger than ever - I have to be careful putting the Levis on or I'll accidentally stick my foot through the knee hole. The blue has faded so far that the pants just barely avoid being white. And I have to make sure I wear long shirts and sit discretely in order to avoid people seeing too much London and too much France.Aesthetically, my jeans are a mess. They should've been tossed out long ago.But darn it, I've never worn a more comfortable pair of pants. The denim has been beaten into a state of softness that can only be described as sublime. I don't look great in my favorite pair of jeans, but I certainly feel great. That's why I keep wearing them.Truth is, everybody should own one piece of ugly-but-comfortable clothing. It's a reminder, for one thing, that while it is better to look good than to feel good, feeling good isn't too bad a thing by itself. And besides, you don't want somebody else looking cooler than you in your own jeans. [1]: http://www.stoneisland.co.uk/clothes/mens-designer-jeans.jpg


Aileen Dingus 11 years, 11 months ago

mmm... soon-to-be-20 year old Penn State National Championship sweatshirt... holes, rips, stains... HEAVENLY. I'm not going to say I wouldn't part with it for the world, but it would take quite a bit!

My single solitary pair of jeans- you can have. Ugh.

meg 11 years, 11 months ago

you a member of the sisterhood of the travelling pants joel?

DavidRose 11 years, 11 months ago

I have a zero tolerance policy towards rips, holes, and stains cause I don't need any help looking awful.

1998... that's scary, Joel.

Marcy McGuffie 11 years, 11 months ago

1998, eh? Admittedly, I own clothing older than that...

I say hold on to 'em as long as you can!

leslie 11 years, 11 months ago

last winter I finally donated a sweater I wore every winter. I have photos of me in junior HOME EC (this dates it) in high school. That was 16 years ago.

Yeah, I really need Rob & Edie to give me a style makeover.

chewyfally 11 years, 11 months ago

Not only do i still have things i wore in junior high, i have clothes that my older sister wore when SHE was in junior high.

this makes moving season a pain, separating my clothes into four boxes: 1. Clothes I always wear 2. Clothes I normally wear 3. Clothes I didn't know I had 4. Work clothes

But I've taken a small step towards progress this fall. I completely filled up the "Clothes I normally wear" box and plan to. . .do something with it. ..I'm not quite sure yet. Some will be donated, some will probably just get stuffed into a closet at my mum's house until my kids can pull them all out and snicker at them and ask if they can use them for their Halloween costumes that year.

Joel 11 years, 11 months ago

I got rid of a lot of "clothes I planned to wear again, but never got around to losing 25 pounds" clothes during the last move. My moving load was significantly lighter.

I also possess a 13-year-old Tabor College t-shirt that was stretched into oversizedness and makes a hell of comfortable nightdress. That's nothing I wear outside, unlike my jeans from hell.

kthutch 11 years, 11 months ago

I've got a t-shirt from my freshman year of college (1991, for those keeping track). I was looking for jeans (I have two pairs as far as I can tell, one two and a half sizes too big, the other a half size too small), I ran across it. Also found was my 49ers t-shirt from the bottleneck (1994, I think, maybe 1995), and what looks to be a gas station attendant shirt (one hopes about 1994 as well).

Althea Schnacke 11 years, 11 months ago

The thing that helped me get rid of all my clothes was doing renovation work in Texas. I got chemical stripper all over all but three pairs of jeans, and those had to become "work clothes" for my office job once I moved back. I moved to Texas with about 8 large boxes of clothes, I came back with one trunk.

Terry Bush 11 years, 11 months ago

I got you all beat in the keeping old clothing game. I have a black negligee and matching sheer robe that dates to 1973. And yes, I can and still do wear it. If it weren't for space issues, I would have a harder time doing the yearly clothing purge. As it is, I have a real hard time parting from clothing that has some special meaning - even if it is no longer in style or doesn't fit (e.g. a suit my mother made for me, from cloth (silk/linen) she first wove). I have found, the hard way, that almost every style comes back around eventually...as long as you don't change sizes too much! So hang onto those old clothes. Sooner then you think they will become vintage...

Nikki May 11 years, 11 months ago

Well, I have tons of shirts from way back. But, I mostly only wear concert shirts and those get better with age.

Joel 11 years, 11 months ago

"I got you all beat in the keeping old clothing game. I have a black negligee and matching sheer robe that dates to 1973. And yes, I can and still do wear it."

ladylaw: rrrrrrrowr!

Terry Bush 11 years, 11 months ago

Joel!! Behave yourself or you will be accused of being a dirty young man. Do you want to ruin your good boy reputation??

CafeSiren 11 years, 11 months ago

My "laundry dress."

When all the good clothes are dirty -- every pair of jeans, everything that doesn't need to be dry-cleaned, every shirt other than the ones I wear to the gym -- you need to wear something on your trek out to the washing machine and the dryer, right?

This is a baggy gray dress with the merest suggestion of a waistline. It has a hole in one of the seams that I keep meaning to mend, but that has actually had a safety pin holding it together for about a year now. It is loose and light enough to wear for summer laundry, and can have a jacket or cardigan thrown over it for winter laundry.

I've even been known to put on a nice pair of boots and a professional jacket and wear the thing to work, figuring that no one will even notice a gray baggy dress. That, to me, is a critical difference between my dress and your pants. Or maybe I just have no shame, and was born in a barn and raised by wolves.

Joel 11 years, 11 months ago

CafeSiren: What, exactly, is the difference between winter and summer in southern California?

Jocelyn Craft 11 years, 11 months ago

With heavy heart, I rid myself of my favorite clothing item the summer before last when I moved to Germany. They were a pair of leather sandals that I had bought the spring of my senior year in high school (1995) and they were comfortable.

They were Rockports, a nondescript, basic brown, bought with the idea that I needed very comfortable shoes when I went to London and Paris for a 10-day senior trip. I wore only those sandals while I walked (and sometimes trudged) around those cities on the other side of the Pond, and my feet never once got sore. I was tired, and my legs hurt, but my feet never did. After that trip I wore them every day that wasn't Too Cold to Get Away With Wearing Sandals.

After four years of constant use in college, I thought they were worn out. The sole was wearing down at the heel, and the leather covering the Rockport cushioning had worn shinily thin whereever my feet touched it. The right foot had even worn a hole in the leather, under my big toe.

But would I part with them? Oh, no! I wore them another four years, until the sandals wouldn't stay on my feet because they were literally falling apart. The strap across the toes was tearing away from the soles, and the leather under my feet had long since disintegrated.

Despite all this, those sandals still moved with me to Lawrence, and were great laundry shoes my first year in grad school. They only got the boot (so to speak) when reduce my trappings from half a house down to two suitcases.

Jocelyn Craft 11 years, 11 months ago

*They only got the boot (so to speak) when I had to reduce my trappings...

Sorry. Editing typos. :(

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