Discover more from Jane on Jeans
A summer mashup with a bit of history and Clare Vivier's own French-girl boy fits.
There was a pair of white jeans I used to wear all the time: Levi’s red tab 501s with a super-straight, cropped leg. Technically, there wasn’t anything special about them – they were not selvedge or true vintage – but I bought them used and wore them constantly from 2016-2018, as I met and fell in love with my now-husband, up until I became pregnant with our daughter. God, those jeans were great. I took them on safari in Kenya (below), and wore them to work in New York; they looked good when they got dirty and they went with every shoe. One day, when I was about 12 weeks pregnant, I put the Levi’s in a storage bin marked “Jeans: Before and After Baby.” Ha. I haven’t worn them since. (Though, yes, I still have them.)
My body may look the same now as it did before I put those Levi’s in that bin, but believe me, it’s not. And it’s fine – I now have two kids and a number of white jeans I like a lot. Mother’s High Waisted Spinner Skimps are the most on-trend – they’re long on me, so they puddle at the foot; people always ask me what they are when I wear them. But, there’s a part of me still searching for the white jean to really replace those Levi’s I loved so much. And the truth is, that kind of jean – the thrift-store find with a million memories – can’t be duped.
My thinking about it for this letter eventually sent me looking for facts. Levi’s historian Tracey Panek told me Levi Strauss & Co first introduced white jeans in the early 1960s, as part of a teen line called Slim Fits. The surf-inspired ads “became so popular that fans wrote asking for the posters to tack on their walls,” Tracey said. “Interestingly, white Levi’s were also a way around the prohibition by many schools who banned blue jeans.” As if I couldn’t love them more.
Hopefully, we can agree – that rule about not wearing white after Labor Day no longer applies. Good, as my search for another beloved white jean may continue well beyond summer.
“I just want to know: What’s so secret saucy about them?” This was a text from my sister Kim. Her Instagram was feeding her these Ayr jeans daily, so I bought a pair to see. And honestly, delicious. The waist, rise, and leg width immediately reminded me of my old white Levi’s, and though I’m not about to compare the two, it does seem the Secret Sauce can do what those jeans did: Travel well and dress up nicely. The denim is 98% cotton and 2% elastane; stretchy, but not too stretchy, with a very subtle sheen. I photographed them with an optic white button down shirt to more accurately express their warmer shade.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. For those who just subscribed, Jump One is a jumpsuit I designed in Japanese cotton twill and upcycled Italian ecru denim. Soft and structured, the denim one is sustainably made in Los Angeles without the use of dye, bleach, or other harmful washing agents.
I’m qualifying this Clare V tote for my letter because of its chambray lining. Chambray shares denim’s dyed warp yarn + white weft yarn construction; I consider it part of the jeans family. The tote’s metal rivets and little red tacks, like those commonly used for reinforcing pocket corners, also scream “Jeans!” to me.
I’m fully committed to this tiny tote at the moment because I can put in on the passenger seat of my car and access what’s in it with a quick reach. It opens wide and closes only with a delicate ribbon-tie that, frankly, I never use. The D-rings inside tell me Le Petit Box Tote pairs with Clare’s bag straps. I’m considering this one for when I travel later this summer.
Jean of the Week: Clare Vivier
Carrying Clare Vivier’s mini-tote everyday made me wonder which jeans the Los Angeles designer herself has been into lately. Clare wears denim effortlessly and often, and given her French-leaning style sense, I wasn’t surprised when she named Le Jean from Les Prairies de Paris her new favorite.
“They're perfect for right now: straight leg, good weight denim, no stretch,” Clare told me. “They’re high waisted, but ‘boy cut,’ meaning they don't cinch in at the waist, which works really well for me.” Clare wears them in Blanc, but they come in many more colors. Now, if I could only link directly to Clare’s masterful, je-ne-sais-quoi mixiness of color, print, and proportion.
Should you, or anyone you know, be able to tell me where I might find white jeans to replace my beloved Levi’s, please reply to this letter! Your support, as always, is everything.
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