No, you don’t actually need a pair of blue jeans

There is no pant as ubiquitous in American culture as the blue jean. Blue jeans transcend gender, race, class, and creed. Everyone owns a pair, from Michelle Obama to the guy who fixes your car. Babies wear blue jeans. Different styles come and go, but at the end of the day, blue jeans reign supreme as America’s Favorite Pants.

I’ve owned more pairs of blue jeans in my lifetime than I can count. In middle school they were flared with pink velvet tassels corsetted down the sides. In high-school, they were low-rise and skin-tight. I hand-ripped them at the knees and sometimes drew math equations on them with fabric paint (yes, I have always been a weirdo doing weird stuff with my clothes). Now, at 27 years-old, I own exactly one pair of blue jeans – a pair of high-rise True Skinny denim in medium blue from Gap that I purchased in 2015. When the fabric wore thin behind the knee and ripped, I patched them dutifully, and when I was feeling bored, I gave them new life by snipping off the bottoms for a cool raw hem. They fit me just as perfectly now as they did three years ago, and I do actually wear them all the time.

But I don’t love them. I’ve never loved them, and until now, I couldn’t figure out why. As I’ve pruned my wardrobe to include fewer and fewer items and analyzed each and every single garment that I own, my blue jeans have fallen further out of favor. With the clarity that closet mindfulness has brought me, I can finally tell you why:

It’s because they’re blue.

You heard me right. Their classic, iconic, timeless blueness is their ultimate downfall. Since I’ve been systematically paring down my wardrobe and learning what I love to wear and what I don’t, color stands out at the number one predictor of a garment that I am destined to hate. I put the blue jeans on once a week only to decide that they are wrong and hang them back up in my closet, but the same pair of pants in black somehow always looks exactly correct.

It happens again with the green sweater, the navy dress, the maroon top, and the red shoes, so I take them all out – and what am I left with? A beautiful canvas of black, white, cream, and brown, and just little accents of olive and orange – my “true colors” revealing themselves to me now that I’ve yanked out all the clutter. Blue denim, as neutral as you may argue that it is, just doesn’t have a place in my personal color story. I don’t like wearing it, and I think the only reason I have been for so long is because the world has been telling me that I’m supposed to.

I once read an interview with Emma Watson, whose style I deeply admire, where she said that she often finds herself wearing black because it always looks chic, but that she feels guilty of being lazy when she does that. For a long time, I thought about this quote every time I got dressed, taking off one of my beloved black dresses and putting it back on the hanger because I felt guilty for defaulting to it all the time, and ending up instead in a more colorful outfit that I didn’t feel quite myself in. I think that in fashion, we’re often encouraged to get out of our comfort zones and experiment, but if we never allow ourselves to just wear what we want to, we might never figure out what our comfort zones are in the first place, and we won’t have an established style identity to build off of when we do want to explore.

Blue jeans are not exactly a fashion risk, but for me, they don’t work. They aren’t in my comfort zone, and I feel empowered enough by my practice of wardrobe mindfulness to say that I’m not going to wear them anymore.

In the spirit of Emma, though, and even with this new realization that I’m done with blue jeans, I feel compelled to experiment outside of my comfort zone. That doesn’t mean that I need to subject myself to being uncomfortable. Quite the opposite. It’s an opportunity to play off my style identity with things that excite me, like interesting textures and silhouettes, more structurally dramatic pieces, and garments that stand out to me as truly artful and wearable. I don’t need to try to make blue jeans work when I know, after 27 years of wearing them, that they just don’t. I’m freeing myself from the obligation of wearing the thing that is supposedly for everyone, and saying confidently, without the least bit of guilt, that they are not for me. Instead, I’m opening myself up to the possibility of loving things that I haven’t tried before.

Of course, the natural solution to my blue-jean aversion is to just wear my black jeans more often. I love them because they’re classic and they go with everything, but I’m still sometimes haunted by Emma’s quote about laziness when I choose them over and over again. Here are some alternatives that I’ve been considering, in no particular order:

everlanewidecrop

Wide Leg Crop Pant in Ochre, by Everlane ($68)

esclydeworkpant

Clyde Work Pant in Khaki Cotton Canvas, by Elizabeth Suzann ($245)

vettataperedpant

The Tapered Pant in Sand from the Relaxed Capsule, by VETTA ($119)

All of these options fill a niche in my wardrobe for a comfortable, casual pant that can be dressed up or down and that goes with pretty much everything, but unlike blue jeans, they fit easily into my color palette, and when I look at them, I see possibilities instead of challenges. Luckily, I’m not really in a financial place right now to be buying a new pair of pants, and my wardrobe doesn’t need to follow a one-out-one-in rule of rotation. I don’t actually have to replace my blue jeans with anything, and that realization is empowering. I’m not obligated to fill a spot in my closet; I’m free to save my money and eventually buy another garment just for the sheer joy of it. In my opinion, that’s how you achieve a truly mindful wardrobe.

I’m interested to know if you have a similar item or items in your wardrobe – something that you feel like you’re supposed to own for Reason X, but that you never really liked that much even though you continue to wear it. Why do you have it? Why do you still wear it? And what would happen if you just got rid of it? Comment below and let’s get this discussion going!

If you liked what you read here today, please follow along with me on Instagram at @goblinshark_ for daily outfits and wardrobe discussions.

-gs

 

7 thoughts on “No, you don’t actually need a pair of blue jeans

  1. Love this! I definitely have a few things I feel like I need to own, but number 1 for me is a blazer. I always feel like an imposter in one, but sometimes I feel like I HAVE to wear it (presentations, interviews, whatever).

    Although, maybe I should ditch mine after reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get that, and I think this method is more difficult to apply with work clothing, since we often have clothes that we are actually required to wear for our jobs. At the same time, though, I think there’s some wiggle room even in business attire. Maybe find a different style of jacket in a similarly formal fabric, or a great structured shirt that’s more you, etc. I think this is an opportunity for you to explore!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Woooo happy for you you’ve broken up with your blue jeans! I find your discussion of laziness really interesting. Our society is so obsessed with productivity that ~*laziness*~ is one of the worst sins you can commit in your daily life. Yet simultaneously there is always such a push for convenience- I suppose convenience is often seen as laziness unless it is specifically used to make you more productive.
    Good to hear you are feeling good about cozying up with your current options and have future options that excite you- yet I wonder: is your guilt around being lazy for wearing what you love (black) truly guilt (feeling bad for violating your own values/morals) or is it perhaps more accurately shame (feeling bad for violating other’s expectations of you)?
    As well, I hate that it is only feminine identifying/presenting folk who are shamed for wardrobe laziness when they choose to wear the same thing multiple times, even when they love it! Men and other masculine people basically never have negative attention drawn to them for doing the same.

    Like

  3. I always felt like I needed a pair of oxford shoes because I was just supposed to? I bought a pair and quickly sold them because they just aren’t for me! I find a darker jean can read as more neutral then the bright blue wash in your gap pair, but then I’m partial to navy. I love the idea of an ochre for you like in the Everlane wide legs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a red dress last year that was so pretty, but I never wore it. I loved the idea of having a classic red dress in the closet, but whenever I put it on, I would sheepishly take it off, feeling a bit too fancy. Then, i decided I would wear it on Christmas or Valentine’s day, but both those holidays passed, and the dress was forgotten. I recently decided to let it go and give someone else an opportunity to wear it, because it deserved a home where it would be worn. I love your blog! It’s helped me work toward a wardrobe that I 100% love and 100% wear!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was so happy to discover your blog recently, and I think you raise a great point. Those “must have” lists always have a few items like this. I will probably never wear a leather jacket, and I’ve completely broken up with any items that require a strapless bra. Finding a consistent color palette I love has helped so much, although mine definitely includes dark wash jeans and a lot of navy.

    Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have jeans. They are very dark blue, which I much prefer to the lighter shades. I got them at LOFT for $4. and change. I bought four pairs. I wear them a lot. For that price I didn’t feel bad tucking two pairs away for later. I don’t like to horde, but when jeans cost so much (regular price, those jeans were just under $80!), I had to get a couple extra. I haven’t bought jeans since and it’s been five years. I really enjoy reading your thoughts on clothes. It’s given me pause to think about my own. The topic of my clothing has come across quite often. I don’t want to be glutinous and keep buying clothes for the sake of it. It’s NOT a sport. Hahaha. I try to be mindful in my purchases. I have a small handful of clothes I do wear that I do NOT love. I wear them because they are my “outdoor” gardening get gross clothing. I don’t feel great in them, but I figured I will continue to wear them until they are sherds. The plants don’t mind so why should I, though really I dislike them. So every time before I go out into the yard and start my work (I have two acres) I smear on a lippy product so I can feel at least a little cute! 😉

    Like

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