Packing for my two-week summer break at the beach, I am struck by the fact that aside from undies, T-shirts and a long cardigan, everything I pack is denim. Jeans, for those cooler evenings. A short denim skirt. A denim pinafore. Denim shorts. Even the sundress I have is a kind of cotton faux denim.
It always surprises me how comfortable denim is, given that it is so hardy.Credit:Fashion Select/Getty Images
I have three denim jackets and although I have never dared to try pulling off double denim, if I didn’t work in a job where it is good to look a little bit professional, I suspect I would wear little else.
It always surprises me how comfortable denim is, given that it is so hardy. I recall jeans in the '70s that, like old-school leather hiking boots, took weeks to break in; these days, I can tell in the change room if the jeans will be comfy.
Denim is versatile. You can dress it up or down (OK, you can’t dress it up that much) but, casual or smart casual, if you pick the style that suits you, it always looks good.
I like that denim started off as clothes for working people in the American gold rush of the 1850s, when a tailor called Jacob W. Davis collaborated with cloth merchant Levi Strauss to create durable pants, complete with copper rivets in the places that trousers were most likely to tear.
Like everything else in our consumption obsessed society, denim has its dark side. You have to be careful who you buy from. Some of the well-known brands don’t have fair work practices. Some kinds of jeans take 10,000 litres of water to make. Others, like the ridiculous "distressed" jeans use substances that pollute both waterways and the lungs of the workers making them. Like with food, furniture and everything else, you need to do your homework before you buy.
But one of the main reasons I love denim is that it is practically indestructible – the very opposite of fast fashion. I don’t have many pairs of jeans (or shorts, or skirts) and I wear my denim clothes until they fall apart. I bought a long denim dress before my now-26-year-old daughter was born; she commandeered it several years ago and wears it still. If she ever has offspring, maybe she will bequeath it to them.
Retirement, which is on the not-so-distant horizon, will see me in little else. Love is all very well, but, when it comes to my wardrobe, all I need is denim.
Clare Boyd-Macrae is a Melbourne writer.
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