Denim Through the Decades

Jeans are the staple item of clothing you can find in almost any wardrobe. If you don’t know what to wear, jeans are the item of clothing you can always rely on. And the use of denim isn’t just limited to jeans. A denim jacket can dress down an outfit and denim shorts are a necessity for any summer wardrobe. But how did our obsession with denim start? 

History of Denim

On the 20th May 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis managed to acquire the US patent for putting metal rivets into trousers so that they would be stronger and therefore last longer. This has come to be known at ‘blue jean day’ in the fashion world. The denim material had existed before this point and was used to make items that needed to be durable such as wagon covers and tents. But it was the patent to add the metal rivets that made jeans the item of clothing we still know today.

Jeans came about through a need for practicality and were originally worn by workers in the fields and mines. These jobs required a lot of manual labor, so their clothing needed to be just as strong. Fashion wasn’t at the forefront of makers minds at the time, but the style of jean worn by workers in 1890 are still worn today. These are the infamous Levi 501 jeans.

Levi’s are still the most popular brand of jeans on the market so it’s not just the jeans themselves that have lasted the test of time.

Denim Through the Decades

Although the fabric of jeans hasn’t changed, there have been many different styles over the years. One of the turning points for jeans being worn in regular life rather than just being work wear came from Hollywood. John Wayne and Gary Cooper played handsome cowboys wearing jeans and their popularity took flight.

But it took a little bit longer for jeans to become a staple in women’s wardrobes too. Thankfully, publicity photos of Ginger Rogers and Carole Lombard wearing jeans made them a socially acceptable fashion staple for women too in the 1930s.

Famous Denim Outfits in Film and Pop Culture

Jeans have long been included in costume design for films set at the time of the Gold Rush. In the film Of Mice and Men, Lennie and George are seen wearing jeans throughout as an accurate historical representation of what their outfits would have been.

And that’s not the only film to have relied on accurate costumes to bring their characters to life. Brokeback Mountain is a film about two cowboys who fall in love with each other whilst working as farmhands. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are seen in a multitude of double denim outfits throughout the film, adding to the authenticity of the film.

Another unlikely advertisement for jeans is the 2005 film the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. This film is based entirely around a pair of jeans that a group of female friends all manage to fit into. They all take turns wearing the jeans for a week or so during their summer break and tell the story of what happens when they’re wearing them. The jeans are seen as a good luck charm and guide the young women through the trials and tribulations of teen summer holidays.

In pop culture, there have been many different iconic denim and jean-based outfits. The most iconic of all of these has to be total denim looks that Britney and Justin wore to the 2001 American Music Awards. No other all denim outfit has been replicated as much and has even been the source of inspiration for other celebrities looks. Katy Perry is one of them as her all denim look from the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards was inspired by Britney and Justin’s look.

Jeans have been a huge part of our lives for over a century, and it looks like they’re not going anywhere soon. Whether you’re a skinny jean fanatic or a mom jean enthusiast, there’s a pair of jeans for every person on every occasion.