Tag Archives: durability

Happy Easter from Closettour

This dress was originally purchased from Anthropologie in the year 2000, for the occasion of my sister’s college graduation, which is pictured below after a long night of celebration.


I’ve worn the wrap-dress (Anthropologie’s private label, made in the USA) every year since, layered with a semblance of slips, swimsuits and stockings take it from spring to summer and into fall.

Many of these moments (above) were immortalized by my friend and former neighbor Tom Slaughter, and today the dress is back, with an old Laura Ashley petticoat beneath and an American Apparel hoodie over the top–my easy ensemble for Easter brunch with long-lost pal Julie Roads. It’s all about resurrection.

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Pricing That Perfect Pair

I’m not the only who appreciates the value of finding the perfect pair of jeans.

As Guy Trebay wrote in today’s Times Style Section, for men of a certain age, the right jeans can make the difference between looking classy and classic (á la Harrison Ford in the Extraordinary Measures poster) or a little embarrassing (more like Ted Danson in “Cheers,” Trebay suggested).

I recently had lunch with another newspaper man of a certain age, my friend David. He describes himself as “fashion-impaired,” but he’s mastered the art of exactly what Trebay observed so many men fail at. That day, he wore black jeans, as he usually does, faded to a stony shade of graphite (not unlike his goatee).

As he describes them, his black jeans make “his bottom half invisible” whether with a coat and tie or an old faded band tee-shirt, and always with decal-free black Reeboks. This uniform, which suits him well, frees him from the daily burden of wondering what to wear.

“So what’s that worth?” he asked me.

“A lot,” I replied. (Indeed, after a particularly harrowing morning getting dressed, I would have forked over a pretty penny for a pair to render my own bottom half invisible–but that’s another story.)

https://www.vanmildert.com/mens-1/jeans-83/hugo-boss-black-mens-141062-1112_medium.jpg

black jeans by Hugo Boss

The black jeans David wore that day represented his first foray into the world of $100 denim–$110, actually. His wife convinced him to buy them two and a half years ago, and he has worn them pretty much every day since, removing them only to wash on the weekends.

Prior to those Boss jeans, his routine involved rotating two pairs of the Gap’s $40 version all week. They would last a year–meaning worn everyday, they would last six months before looking too tired (busted pockets, etc.) for work.

Those Boss jeans, on the other hand, at 5 days per week, have lasted two-and-a-half years. Using one of my favorite methods for calculating cost, the “price-per-wear,” they’re actually the better investment. The Gap pair maxed out (at least for work purposes) after about 182 wears. At $40, that means at their cheapest, David’s price was about 22 cents per wear. The Boss jeans, however, at 650 wears, now cost about 17 cents per wear. I’m no economist, but I think they call this amortization. If they last another year, he’ll be down to 12 cents per wear. (On the other hand, if he only wore them once, that would have been a $110 wear–see?) And they’re fitting and fading quite nicely.

“They are perfect,” he said.

And at this rate, if he keeps on wearing them, they’ll soon be verging on priceless.

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The Denim Diaries: Part 3

Jeans are an essential piece of the California uniform, so I wanted to make sure I would have at least a couple of reliable pairs with me for my trip. The week before I left, my Earnest Sewns got another rip in the very top of the right thigh–which is where all my jeans seem to rip.

Earnest Sewn, Decca Straight Leg Sample

Because I got them at a sample sale, I can’t really claim this says anything about the quality (it may actually say more about the strain that my holiday indulgences have put my jeans under.) Anyway, I got them fixed at the New York Tailor Shop on Kenmare before my trip. They told me they patch holes in crotches of stretchy jeans every single day, and that they’re going to keep on ripping. But for the moment, I was happier with the investment of $8 and the time it took to drop off/pick up the pants than the idea of scouting out  a new pair of jeans.

So I packed my newly patched Earnest Sewns along with a pair of J Brand Scarlett Seven Eights jeans I got at Anthropologie last May into my suitcase for California.

It was news to me that these Scarlett jeans were marketed as “curvy fit” jeans until I just had a look at J Brand’s website, but it makes sense. Usually when I buy jeans to fit my backside, they gape at my waist. Or if buy them to fit my waist, they are outrageously tight everywhere else.

But not these–they fit my butt and my waist, and it’s likely because of that contoured waistband J Brand is touting on their website. That, of course, and a bit of stretch. I was surprised to see the content label say these have just 2% stretch, cause it feels like much more. The “Seven Eights” refers to the length, which is a good little capri length for shorties like me.

That shorter length makes them cute with espadrilles, which is what I was wearing yesterday when we took the California Christmas to another level, and went to see Avatar at the 3-D IMAX in Irvine. (So awesome!!) I ran to the ladies room before the film was about to begin, and when I went to zip my jeans…nada. I tugged and tugged to no avail. And this was not due to too many Christmas cookies, if that’s what you’re thinking. They buttoned up, no problem, but the zipper would not budge.

Luckily, the Laloo tee (purchased at the Steven Alan sample sale) and Edun cardigan (pictured here) I had on covered the open zipper, so it didn’t steal the thunder from my 3-D glasses, which provided an ample dose of wardrobe-related embarassment for the day.

One day later, that zipper still isn’t moving. It’s as if my denim supply is some sort of closed energy system, where once one pair is patched and back in action, another must become eliminated. Sounds sort of James Cameron, right? I just hope it doesn’t require an Avatar-sized budget and schedule to solve this, but I suspect we might be at the outset of a major project here.

Stay tuned…

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These Boots

This is an archival post from my personal blog, Jaybird, that seemed relevant as temperatures are beginning to drop here in NYC. I imagine I’ll be bringing you on a boot-hunt soon. I never did replace these, and word is that The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting snow around Thanksgiving.

From the Archives, dated February 4, 2009:

One Sport Boots, 1994-2009

One Sport Boots, 1994-2009

The New York winter finally did in my oldest pair of shoes. These beautiful boots carried me through Arapahoe National Forest, to the top of Telluride Mountain, to the bottom and back out of the Grand Canyon, over the hump of Half Dome and god-knows-where in the backwoods beyond Ojai. But after six winters in New York, on Broadway in Williamsburg, under the JMZ train, the left one said: No more. I can’t go on.

I can’t say I blame it. The roller coaster of wind, salt, radiators, subway steps, ice and snow ain’t easy. NYC is for many kinds of people (and accessories), but the faint of heart are not included.

Dear boots, Thanks for taking me so far.

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The Denim Diaries: Part 1

I know I’m the consumer here, but sometimes I find myself completely consumed by the process. I’ll give you an example: jeans. Finding the perfect pair is no new obsession of mine. Actually, the first article I ever published was devoted to the topic. To me, jeans are very personal, and because they’re the mainstay of many an outfit, I’ve got to feel absolutely comfortable in them. And I don’t just mean that the fabric feels good against my skin, though that’s important too. I’ve got to feel like they look good. But let’s be honest, there are enough articles devoted to that topic.

What concerns me today is the question of durability.

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Exhibit A: Loomstate jeans purchased at Steven Alan in the fall/winter of 2005

Jeans, in my mind, are sort of like the Golden Retriever of one’s wardrobe. They should be loyal, comfortable, handsome, tough, and love you unconditionally. (Some fortunate souls may have even found these qualities in a mate, but let’s not lose focus.)

I favor clean dark jeans, with no “designer” stitching on the back pockets and no pre-manufactured crease-lines on the front (in the business they call those “whiskers”). That’s what I had in mind when I purchased the above pictured Loomstate jeans a few years ago. I had been searching far and wide for a dark subtly bootcut pair and settled on these–partially because I liked what I had read about Rogan Gregory, the company’s co-founder, and their use of organic cotton. This was before I worked for Rogan at Edun and shared an office with the lovable folks at Loomstate in 2006, and it was also before Steven Alan was my friend–full disclosure here, folks.

Believe it or not, those babies were once a uniform dark indigo, sort of like this pair. All those whiskers were hard-earned, as were the rips in the knees…and these in the crotch. (If anyone knows a more attractive word for crotch, I’d love to learn it. Leave a comment.)

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Although I would have preferred that they last an eternity without ripping, I was sort of okay with the way they wore. I’m hard on my clothes, especially shoes, jeans, and bags. This is New York, folks. And when I’m not here, I often find myself on farms, and the jeans go there too.

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As instructed, I refrained from washing them too often, though I didn’t wear them in bathtub–that’s just silly. I dried them in the sun when I was in New Zealand, and in the dryer when I was in New York.

The denim got really soft, and they faded and broke in in such a way that some people pay extra for. So, for about $168 at a local retailer I got a pair of organic cotton jeans, made in the U.S.A. (of imported fabric–more on this later) that stayed dark and a little dressier for about a year before they began to decompose into the very casual pair you see today. I’ll have to get that latest rip in the knee patched if I’m going to keep them going through the winter, but there’s a question here about when to let go. Maybe when the patches outweigh the original pants, it’s time.

This was only Chapter 1 in a long denim diary. When these jeans ceased to fill my dark denim requirement, I set out searching for another pair. More to come.

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