Looking Good In Denim

By Jeanelle Horcasitas

February 27, 2015 7 min read

The one item in your closet that never seems to go out of style no matter the era is your jeans. Jeans are arguably just as infamous as the little black dress. Jeans can be worn casually and comfortably or dressed up for a night on the town with a classy blazer. Whatever the occasion or style you choose, the main point is the same: We love our jeans. Buying a new pair of jeans is like buying a new pair of shoes. It takes time to break them in, but soon they fit like a glove and we just can't imagine life without them.

But when our jeans suddenly shrink, lose their vibrancy or simply stretch and tear, what other option do we have but to throw away our precious garment and begin the search for a new pair? Luckily, there are preventive measures you can take to get the most life out of your baby blues.

*Don't Over-wash Your Jeans

I know what you're thinking: It sounds a bit unsanitary. But I promise that your jeans will thank you! Washing your jeans too often will definitely fade the color, affecting the overall appearance. Unless you're going for the acid-wash look, which is definitely an optional fashion choice, I would suggest limiting your jeans' time in the washer. In fact, according to The Guardian's Richard Vine, you should NEVER wash your jeans if you can help it, "The point of not washing them for as long as possible is to avoid breaking down the fibres of the denim, to preserve the deep indigos and the stiff (you might say, uncomfortable) feel of the fabric that makes them so appealing to start with." Vine is specifically referring to raw denim wearers, denim that he describes as "unsanforized" or, in short, "dyed cotton, that's free from chemical processes." Owners of raw denim create their own fit, with creases and "whiskers" that are created by the individual wearing them. Raw denim molds to fit your body, and this is what makes it most desirable to buyers. However, if you are like me, raw denim or not -- I still feel it is necessary to wash my jeans once in a while. Depending on how often you wear your jeans, you should limit yourself to washing them once a month (and then less frequently as you get accustomed to washing them less).

Another tip is to hand-wash them in the bathtub, soaking them for about 30 minutes on each side. Lastly, when drying your jeans, do NOT dry them in the machine. Hang-dry them. Drying them with heat will definitely shrink your jeans and potentially make them un-wearable. Therefore, if you are washing your jeans with other items, remember to separate the jeans from the load and hang them out to dry (they should be good to go in about a day's time).

*Put Those Jeans in Rotation

Are you worried that people will begin to notice that you are wearing what they think are the same jeans (only you know they are!) and discover that you only wash them once in a blue moon? Never fear; that's why denim comes in tons of different shades and styles. I would suggest owning at least three pairs of basic jeans that range from dark to light so you can switch them up every day. I would steer clear of any jeans that have beading, special stitching or are glittery and bedazzled; this would be a dead giveaway. Stick with the basic, neutral jeans so you can wear and switch them up as often as you like. Another perk is that it helps to prolong the life of your jeans, too! And you won't have to worry about washing them as often because they won't be as dirty as they might be from daily usage.

In fact, you should limit rotating not just your jeans but all of your clothes. According to Woman's Day's Arianne Cohen, "the operative word here is rotate. Split your clothing into three groups (each group should include both work and weekend outfits), then wear each group for 6 to 8 weeks, or however long you want the cycle to be." Cohen adds that "pants can be worn 3 or 4 times, and let's be honest: Jeans can easily swing 3-plus wears." So there you have it. Rotate your jeans and your wardrobe in general to save on the costs of constantly washing your clothes, buying new clothing and ensuring that you make the most out of your whole wardrobe.

*The No-Dry Tumble-and-Go Trick

OK, but what about the worst-case scenario: Three out of your four jeans in rotation are in the wash and you're left with just one pair that you foolishly forgot to include in the wash. You can't sit around waiting for the jeans to wash and dry, so you have no choice but to wear your dirty jeans. So now what? Well, there is a quick solution to this dilemma. Hopefully there is nothing in the dryer so that you can proceed with the following trick. Throw those dirty jeans into the machine; switch the knobs to "no heat" and "tumble dry"; add a couple of fabric-softener sheets, and in about 10 minutes, voila! Although my previous advice warned against using the dryer -- in hasty cases like these -- and with no added heat, the tumble-and-go trick is a surefire way to get out the door knowing that your jeans are temporarily clean and ready for the world.

*Stick Your Jeans in the Freezer

Last but not least, the strangest technique is to freeze your jeans. Yep, right next to your favorite carton of ice cream. I would suggest using this trick if you absolutely never want to wash your jeans, but could do without any residual odor after constant use. According to Elle's Victoria Dawson Hoff and Lauren Levinson, "when you freeze your jeans it might kill a lot of the bacteria -- certainly not 100 percent of them, but a good portion of them -- and then when you pull them out of the freezer, they don't smell anymore." Additionally, Hoff and Levinson praise this method because of its sustainability benefits: "Your freezer is running anyway, so it is a good trick to save energy!" Once again, this is another exception to the no-dryer rule -- since you've indeed frozen your jeans, you will have to throw them in the dryer for about 15-20 minutes to loosen and warm them up before wear. But at least they will be odorless and significantly cleaner, even without the full wash.

Jeans are a fashion staple and will always be in style, so let's hope these tips will help ensure a long-lasting relationship with your favorite pair of denim jeans!

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