A word about blue jeans, which when I was growing up were called dungarees, one of the more unfortunate marketing ideas of our time: Starting as a work garment for miners, the ubiquitous blue jeans became a staple of the counterculture starting when Brando wore them in “On the Waterfront,” and remained so through the anti-war protests of the 70s. When Bill Blass and Andy Warhol were seen pairing blue jeans with a dinner jacket and black tie it was clear that jeans would remain in a man’s closet.
Virtually anyone, unless they are truly corpulent, can wear them. After 40, however, it becomes tricky.
Jeans come in many cuts. Some have a lower waist and shorter rise. Others have fuller legs and a more generous seat. Some are deemed ‘relaxed’ while others are called classic. A man can — and should — spend hours trying on jeans and finding the cut for your body type.
Not every man can wear jeans. If you have a huge ass or potbelly, jeans are not for you and any attempt to wear them will look like the ‘Mom” jeans featured on SNL. I admire the men who can squeeze into these very tight stove pipe jeans. It’s a great hipster look but it won’t work with muscular legs or a large buttocks.
Once you find the ideal cut for your body type, stick with it. I finally determined mine were Wrangler’s cowboy cut slim, perfect jeans to accommodate large thighs and calves built up by years of running. Now I can dress up the look with a Harris tweed jacket, Brooks Brothers button down, and bow tie, or dress it down with a T-shirt. Jeans are never appropriate for business unless you are a artist or cowpuncher.
Now I will admit, for people in the ‘arts,’ pairing jeans with a dinner jacket, formal shirt, black bow-tie, silk socks, and velvet or patent-leather pumps can work for formal wear. Do not try this is if you are, say, an accountant from Iowa.
Now candidly there are some men who just shouldn’t wear blue jeans. Sidney Greenstreet, Jackie Gleason, and Chris Christie come to mind. Rule of thumb: if you can be called, slim, lean or trim or average in build they probably work for you. If not, don’t try it.