Do you own a pair of Levi’s??? Today’s a day to celebrate, because on this day in 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis got a patent for blue jeans! I have to wonder if they know what they started… sigh.
As early as 1918 the company created “Freedom-Alls,” a one-piece garment much like overalls, whose name echoed the sentiments of WW I. By the 1920’s, LS&Co. was promoting women’s hiking togs and jackets in khaki, but not in blue denim.
I’m like every other woman: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear — so I wear jeans. – Cameron Diaz
Did women wear jeans in the 1800’s? Oh certainly NOT! If they needed to wear jeans to do chores on the farm, they wore a pair of their brother’s britches. Jeans were originally meant for men only and women wore dresses exclusively. It was not until 1934 that Levi Strauss & Co. took a risk that forever altered the course of women’s fashion.
I’m not sure exactly what makes cats purr, but a really comfortable pair of blue jeans, a too-big piece of silky milk chocolate, and a good massage always do the trick for me. – Terri Guillemets, “Purr, purr, purr,” 1993
Eighty-two years ago, in the fall of 1934, the company introduced the world’s first jeans made just for women. Lady Levi’s jeans were first made for western women who needed jeans for farm or ranch work. The new line was also aimed at women vacationing at dude ranches, working cattle or horse ranches that welcomed guests from eastern states or as far away as Europe.
Nothing is more alluring to a man than a woman who looks good in her jeans. – Nina Garcia
By 1935 a dude ranching article appeared in Vogue magazine that featured the new Lady Levi’s line. Thanks to Lady Levi’s sales at select stores in New York for “dudines” traveling west, jeans became fashionable for ladies in the eastern U.S.
Jean styles have seen interesting changes through the years. Images courtesy of Getty:
On the farm in the 1910’s… big and roomy so you can move freely, dungarees were practical for the farm.
For those in the movies or visiting a ranch, no outfit was complete without the boots, belt and hat. You also had to get that perfect western style shirt.
Here’s those 1934 Lady Levi’s. Casual and so stylish, all rolled up like that.
In the 1940’s this is the look that got wolf whistles… I know, I don’t get it either, but…
Jeans represent democracy in fashion. – Giorgio Armani
Guys wore jeans in the 1940’s too.
In the 1950’s there were poodle skirts… and baggy jeans that were really rolled up – and the saddle oxford shoes, of course.
In the 1960’s everything was skin tight and short… everyone wanted to look like Twiggy! And our jeans were not always blue. We also wore the name of our jeans on our butts – yeah – that was fun. The jeans that fit me the best were CHIC. I never could fit into a pair of Levi’s because I was too short and… well – anyway… I found a brand that accentuated the positive – let’s just leave it at that. 😉
And the 1970’s… bell bottoms, anyone??? I always thought those his/hers matchy matchy outfits were a little… well – weird. Did anyone actually do that? Nobody I knew did – but that doesn’t mean anything.
Beyond bell bottom jeans… things got weird somewhere along the way… really, really weird. That’s all I’m sayin’…
These are mom jeans… from the 1980’s. These are what we don’t want to be caught dead in today. Cuffs were rolled or not rolled and some of the shirt sleeves are even rolled. And the waist bands sat at your natural waist, which means that if you bend over, all your “stuff” and your tattoo doesn’t show. Wow, that’s a crying shame… not.
In the 1980s, American brands from Levi’s to Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache and Calvin Klein offered “designer” stretch jeans for women. The stretch jeans of this era were typically a dark wash, skinny and tight-fitting, and featured distinctive designs on the back pockets to identify the designer. The advertising campaigns for these status symbol jeans were unreservedly sexy, focusing on the denim style’s body conscious fit. If you were around during the 80s, you’ll remember a 15-year-old Brooke Shields from her controversial Calvin Klein Jeans TV ad, in which she unshyly told the camera, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.”
And in the 1990’s the waistbands are SOOOOOOOOO LOW – and the bottoms were flared (but not bell bottom) – and long – too long – and always frayed because they were stepped on while walking – and they had to look tattered and worn – holes were put in them and they were beat with rocks and such – for the sake of fashion. This is when I decided there are not jeans for my body type. Oh – I miss my mom jeans.
Saying yes to the skinny jeans by saying no to the donuts. – Betsy Cañas Garmon, www.wildthymecreative.com (2009 tweet, @wildthyme)
And here we are in the 2000’s. How skinny can you get??? If you’re not skinny, you can’t wear jeans. Trust me, I do say NO to the donuts, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make me skinny – shoot!
I’m thankful for my sweat pants, yoga pants (and no, I do not do yoga), casual skirts and knit capris. The jeans they make these days are not for me, but that’s okay. I have good memories of younger days when I looked good in my CHIC jeans. 😉