DENIM DIARIES: the 501

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I opened drawers and there they were. Went to the basement and there were dirty pairs waiting to be washed. At the foot of my bed they were there on the floor, turned inside out. Sensing the emergence of a pattern, I began a casual count of every pair of jeans I owned.  It started out of curiosity, but when I reached the final number I was horrified. I had counted ninety-six pairs of denim blue jeans in my possession.

Disgusted with myself, and more than a little depressed, I went on a walk.  Ones actions speak to ones priorities, and I felt like mine must have been grossly skewed until then. Something had to be done.

I didn’t want to own ninety-six pairs of anything. I love denim — its humility, its democracy, the personality it acquires after being worn –but ninety-six pairs is neither humble nor is it very democratic.  And with so many to choose from, how would any one pair acquire that genuine worn-in look?

 I came back from my walk in the evening —  still depressed, but newly energized. Manically I separated the wheat from the chaff by asking myself – “Would I Be Okay Being Buried In These?”

I wound up with a few pairs of 501’s, my Imogene and Willie’s, and a bunch of Levi’s Made and Crafted denim. I threw the cast-offs into big boxes that I drove to the donation center.

In protest of excess and in celebration of 140 years since the invention of the 501, I vowed on August 13th to only wear the original button fly for 140 days. Like any good assignment or club this self-assigned project has rules too.

  1. The only bottom that can be worn is the 501.
  2. Cut-off shorts totally count though.
  3. Photograph must be taken, sketch must be drawn.
  4. Project lasts until December 31st. No lapses allowed.

Straight leg, button fly, a little boxier in the top-block. Can be worn a size down high on the waist or a little big and lower on the hips. Can be cut-off into shorts, tailored at the ankle to fit slimmer. Can be embellished, painted on, stepped on, dirtied and muddied, bleached, dip-dyed, purposefully destroyed. Worn with work boots or heels. This seems like enough — why had I ever felt like I needed more?

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My father and I  both liked bikes, blue holey Vans, trips to the hardware store, and the music of Jonathan Richman. In protest of excess, in celebration of what’s real and original, and in remembrance of my Dad, we’ll wear plain old everyday clothes from now until the end of the year.