Much clucking has been caused in the world of this older fashionista following a recent pronouncement from UK journalist and agony aunt Virginia Ironside. Ms. Ironside has come right out and said it. In her opinion, no woman over 50 should be wearing jeans, unless she is a professional gardener.

Ms. Ironside opines that once they have been worn in a bit, jeans go saggy, baggy and wrinkly and … well, I don’t need to draw the parallels for you do I? She isn’t the first “celeb” to turn into a denim disser. Joan Collins does not “approve” of older women wearing jeans either.

But hey, I say – and so do you – let’s ditch the denim deniers. Jeans are an historical fashion item and I’m not giving mine up.

 
 

Riveting History

“Blue jeans” go back to 1871, when Levi Strauss & Co. first made them as workwear for cowboys and miners. The original fabric was woven in the French town of Nîmes, thus creating the iconic name. Denim translates from de Nîmes, or from Nîmes. The indigo dye came from indigo bush plantations in India and was used right up until the end of the nineteenth century, before being replaced by cheaper synthetic dyes.

I started wearing jeans in the 1960s. My very first jeans were a pair of iconic Shrink to Fit Levi 501’s. I had to sit in a hot bath to shrink them. And then I had to lie down on the floor and prise them off with a bent coat hanger. I also got into a lot of trouble for the state of the bath.

I also recall a pair of 1970 Loons, which I enlarged by sewing flowered velvet into the side seams. Looking back at pictures, I find it astonishing that I managed to get about without falling over.

Fast forwarding to the 1980s, I bought my one and only pair of jeans from M&S – a wonderful dark denim, beautifully cut, purchased in the only year they sourced their jeans from Italy. They were never as stylish after and I often wish I’d bought several pairs.

Over the years, I’ve had high-waisted jeans, low-waisted jeans, hipster jeans, jeans with HUGE bell-bottoms, soft jeans, stiff jeans and jeans in every shade from black to bleached white. I’ve probably broken in more pairs of jeans than you’ve had hot dinners. Now, at age 66, jeans are my “go-to” wardrobe staple. I have skinny pairs, straight pairs, boot cut pairs, boyfriend jeans and a pair of ripped jeans that my husband finds baffling – “You mean you actually PAID for jeans with holes in them?”

Jeans for All and All for Jeans

Okay, jeans may not suit everybody, but my thesis is, if they weren’t meant for older women to wear, how come there is a brand designed especially for us as opposed to our female offspring? (See how I managed NOT to do any product placement there?) Look, I’m a busy woman. I have books to write, a household to run and two adorable grandchildren to mind. There are not enough hours in my day. I get up in the morning, pull on my jeans, and I’m good to go.

And finally, here’s something interesting I discovered on my jeans jaunt: The most expensive pair of jeans ever made come from a company called Secret Circus. They cost $1.3 million a pair. Yep. Mind you, they do have real diamonds pierced in the back pockets. Just the thing for playing in the sand-pit with the grandkids.

So how about you? Do you remember your first pair of jeans? Can you recall your favourite pair ever? And do you still wear jeans today? Share your stories and thoughts in the comments.

Carol HedgesCarol Hedges is the successful author of fifteen novels for teenagers and adults. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes: her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and her historical novel Diamonds & Dust was listed for the 2013 CWA Historical Dagger. She is a cancer survivor, a vintage car driver, a cat owner and a doting grandma. She is currently writing the fifth book in her Victorian Crime series. She blogs on her website and posts on Facebook and Twitter about her life, her writing and minding her small granddaughter.

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