Jeans: An American Perspective

by Jeff Stadt

Even as a youth, I never liked the feel of denim jeans. I was forced to wear them though until I was old enough to make my own decisions. They were always so rough and heavy, and growing up over weight, I found them nearly intolerable. Growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s, jeans were the thing for children to wear, for this was America after all, and denim jeans were a stable of our young traditions.

As a Cub Scouts and Weablo, we only wore the top of the uniform (shirt and neckerchief), but I did ask to get at least the pants as well. These were more comfortable to wear, and I did prefer pants to jeans. No one in our troops wore the shorts and knee socks, though. Eventually I made the compromise and wore the cotton twills or corduroy jeans, since they didn't cut or rub so much, but were less durable.

I almost wish we could have afforded a Catholic private school, since they had to wear a uniform of dress pants and shirt and tie, which I found more pleasing. I did occasionally wear "dress" pants to school, and I was always ridiculed for it.

In the 70's polyester was the king, and the one type of dress (or casual) pants I loathed more than the jeans were the leisure suits. This isn't the softer, less flammable polyester of today. This stuff was toxic and came in the most horrendous colors a boy was ever forced to wear. Strange hues of blue and yellow and peach; of course the shirts were even worse and usually brighter, the collars swallowing your neck and half your shoulders. The only thing one could do in a leisure suit was sweat and get carpet burns from walking. So I preferred even the roughness of denim to these monstrosities.

I guess that I wasn't the typical American boy, since everyone else seem natural in their denim jeans. From bell bottoms to straight leg boot cut, bleached to acid washed and stone washed. This was the time of the denim revolution, and I was stuck in the middle of it.

To this day, I prefer pants to jeans even though denim is easier to wear and is somewhat comfortable. >

Figure 1.--.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: October 2, 1998
Last updated: August 27, 1999