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Clothing favorite turns 140

October 24, 2013
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Here's a groaner for you. What do they call the guy who invented blue jeans?

A "jean-ius!"

Even though the joke is a bit strained, there's no doubt that blue jeans have become a must-have part of modern life.

It's safe to say that jeans can be found in almost every closet in the country. As a basic part of any wardrobe, they are amazingly versatile and can be dressed up or dressed down.

In those long ago days before jeans were developed, the original tough material was first used in making tents. But people of the time didn't need many tents. Instead, they needed strong, durable pants.

To fill the need, Levi Strauss invented blue jeans. Targeting farmers and miners, Strauss began by making coveralls, designed for long, hard use.

Eventually, Strauss developed blue jeans. The design was patented in 1873. This year, Strauss' indestructible pants are celebrating their 140th birthday.

Today, blue jeans are the clothing of choice for consumers ranging from movie stars to business moguls, government dignitaries to stylish grandmothers.

Even the leaders of the fashion world have recognized the importance jeans play in the wardrobe picture. For instance, Yves Saint Laurent admitted, "I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: (they are) the most practical, most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity..all I hope for in my clothes."

Other jeans fans have shared their feelings on the subject, too. Jon Bon Jovi went on record with, "Guys will take one pair of jeans, five T-shirts and 3 pair of socks and that'll get you by for 10 weeks."

And, even though women consistently complain about the difficulty of locating jeans that fit as they would like, most ladies find jeans a necessary part of their closet collections.

Kelly Clarkson summed up her devotion with, "In Texas, we practically come out of the womb in jeans."

And Cameron Diaz said, "I'm a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl."

Jeans aren't just an American favorite. They're worn around the world. And, both here and in other countries, a growing trend involving the popular pants is the more wear and tear they show, the better.

One fashion reporter remarked in her column, "I saw distressed blue jeans for sale for $400. That's a lot of money for unhappy pants."

Another story about well-used jeans involved a young college student in California who made the rounds of yard sales, buying up the most worn jeans he could find. He then sold them on e-Bay for amazing prices. When interviewed, he admitted he was paying his way through college by selling the pants, the more worn and torn, the better.

So, whatever the condition of your own collection of blue jeans, now's the time to take them out of the closet and wear them in celebration of their 140th birthday.

They are, after all, the most American pants of all.

As style-setter Giorgio Armani said, "Jeans represent democracy in fashion."



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