He’s My Mister: Heartwrenched For Denim

Posted on February 17, 2016, 2:21 pm
8 mins


When I see or experience beauty, in the most true and philosophical sense, it does something profound to me. It causes an ache in my gut or my chest. I feel heartwrenched at the mere sight of it. The most beautiful things are heartbreakingly so, and I love that about what beauty can do.

Beauty for me has always conjured up a loneliness, an outsiderness and a need to reconcile with something. If I ask myself what this is about, I come up with the idea of separation that we live in as humans. The separation between me and you and them, or the separation between myself and something I might have once been a part of, long to be a part of, or something I can never be a part of. This is part of the enjoyment I get from dressing men: Their presentation of themselves is not anything I will ever be or would want to become. Yet, somehow by virtue of being human, the masculine is an aspect of my own being, outside of what I overtly embody.

Back when jeans became a fashion statement I hadn’t been born yet, but they were still relatively new to the scene for girls and women. They were off limits to girls for most dress codes, and I remember feeling something empowering when I got my first pair at age seven. When I put them on, it was more than feeling equal to boys–I felt at one with them in the best way. We humans have a metaphysical longing to fuse with one another, and when we experience beauty in each other we become aware of this longing. My identity in my first pair of jeans might have been a moment where I merged with others and saw true beauty in what I thought was unattainable for me. The moment where I saw myself as one of them.

Edwin E.N.D. Raw State Pure Denim - Skinny Fit

Edwin E.N.D. Raw State Pure Denim – Skinny Fit

We all know that denim savvy is the gold standard of hipness, but these styles change quickly and can make or break your X factor. For this reason, it’s good to invest in a couple of pairs of Japanese jeans for the sake of longevity. Though Americans might have invented denim, made it cool and rocked it, what the Japanese have done with it is on a whole other level. Their denim design is so far in front of trends, you get some room to breathe. Edwin is a top tier denim company from Japan and is carried in the most fashion forward stores in the U.S. They recently launched a line called E.N.D, which delivers foolproof styles.

Edwin E.N.D. Raw State Pure Denim Skinny Fit may be one of the most beautiful jeans I have ever seen. From the waist and seat to the leg shape and length, this fit and wash is impeccable. It dresses up with a button up, sport coat and leather lace-up shoe for the work/play vibe while still making you look like you know what you’re doing. Made of 98% cotton and 2% spandex, this is raw state pure denim—never washed, never processed, and yours to mold.

Levi's 511 Slim Fit Jeans in Black Stone

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Jeans in Black Stone

Speaking of the Japanese, I used to sell vintage Levi’s to the kids attending Asia University at CWU back in the ’90s. Groups would come into the store and carefully analyze every pair with thorough discussion. Eventually, someone would try a pair on, venture out of the dressing room, and there would be intense discussion and a group purchase of a single pair of Levi’s. Though these American classics can be easily taken for granted, to many people they are quite special and even emblematic.

No denim wardrobe should be without Levi’s. But be warned, they come in an array of styles and if you’re not sure how to wear them, your look could fall flat. There is virtually one foolproof style that has been working well for the last decade and continues to keep on giving: Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Jeans. They come in a wide assortment of colors and washes; I love them in the black stone (it’s not black) because it reminds me of something James Dean would have worn. I’m seeing an undercut hairstyle with a plaid shirt, a Filson western jacket and cowboy or moto boots with these. Who wouldn’t want to get on the back of your motorcycle and ride off into the sunset with you in these jeans?

rag & bone Fit 2 Jean – Black Selvage

rag & bone Fit 2 Jean – Black Selvage

If you’re into a more rock-n-roll vibe, this last pair is for you. Remember when Hedi Slimane brought back the skinny jean when he was working for Dior Homme? All the young rock-n-rollers–The Libertines, Jack White, The Kills, Mick Jagger and of course, Kate Moss–were wearing them in black. It’s been years since the black skinny jean hit the scene, and though some guys can wear the 2004 look well, they will most likely fit into a subculture or youth culture. For the rest of us, men’s skinny jeans have most certainly loosened up. Although the leg might be fitted, it most likely won’t hug you down the calf to the ankle.

Black jeans give you a little more versatility because they can appear dressier than blue denim depending on whether or not they’re faded. Once they do fade, however, they look more rockin’. I’ve seen guys wear black jeans with patent leather shoes and tuxedo jackets to cool events like the SIFF Opening Night Gala and it works well. One of my favorite black skinnies is the rag & bone Fit 2 Jean in Black Selvage, a heartwrenchingly cool pair of jeans. There’s an easy comfort in them that can be styled into something elegant.

Denim is the rebel, the working man, the cowboy, the rocker, the cool chick, the hipster, the individualist, the quintessential American. They can be worn any number of ways, and a single pair tells the world so much about you. Jeans exude the soul of the wearer. They set us apart and cut down all barriers. But best of all, your jeans are heartwrenchingly, beautifully you.

Sarah Caples has lived in Seattle since 2004 working as a fashion stylist for private clients. Sarah launched an art and society blog in 2008, along with a monthly salon at The Sorrento Hotel, which ran until June 2012. As executive editor of VanguardSeattle.com, Caples hopes to cultivate an informed dialog about regional culture and bring people of diverse backgrounds together in support of nonprofits, artists and community builders.