It is that time of the year again. The one week, or perhaps fortnight, when I want to feel all warm and snuggly. The one time when I feel I need to dress fully and appropriately. The calendar month which perhaps requires a wardrobe reboot for most of us. This is perhaps the only time of the year when I pull out my jeans from the back of the cupboard.
I own about three pairs of jeans. Yes, that’s it. You may call it a climate change-induced minimalism, but that is actually quite far from the truth. The thing is, when the temperature is over 30 degrees for 50 weeks of the year, like it is in my hometown Mumbai, you don’t want to wear jeans. Not if you don’t have to, that is.
Denim has become such a mainstay in our wardrobe. Whether it was the good old Levi’s—when I was growing up, everyone only wore Levi’s to look ‘cool’—or the innumerable labels, including desi ones available today, jeans are unarguably the most enduring fashion staple ever since they were invented as miners’ pants in the late 1800s. It is quite simply a thick cotton warp and wool weft, often a coarse cotton warp and weft, that lasts several years and requires minimal wash and care instructions. It seems to be the most sustainable fabric then, thanks to its longevity and low maintenance, except that it is the thirstiest of all fabrics. Almost 6,800 litres of water is required to produce one pair of jeans.
But despite various climate change warriors crying hoarse, no one is giving up their love for denim anytime soon. No one except me. Of course I want a greener planet. But also, I’m just not a fan of jeans. They are a lazy (wo)man’s wardrobe staple. Throw on anything with a pair of jeans and you have got a look. A white shirt? Works. A black T-shirt? Works. A fuchsia satin shirt? Works just as well. Wear all of the above with slides or sneakers in the day and a pair of pumps at night. And you will never be out of place.
Coco Chanel had famously said, “With four pairs of shoes I can travel the world.” But with one pair of jeans she could do just the same. As several of our backpackers and budget travellers will agree.
Mumbai’s worker bees wear jeans every day. It is easy to get on local trains and buses in denims. Most blue collar jobs don’t have a wardrobe mandate anyway. A lot of businessmen wear jeans to work, too, and so do their employees. At the swanky restaurant The Table, I see several shades of blue jeans on the SoBo Salad-crunching ladies, even though they team them with coloured heels and diamonds, and designer bags that cost as much as small cars.
My son’s formal uniform at school is a crisp white cotton shirt and dark blue jeans. I really do love that, since both can be worn outside school as well. I also love that the school allows both girls and boys to opt for skirts if they want to.
I think I will wear my jeans for another few days, before they get shoved to the back of the cupboard again. I won’t miss them. Tropical weather like ours is great for shorts, linens, lungis and cotton saris.
Versatility in the wardrobe will allow us to dress more thoughtfully, and certainly more stylishly. Perhaps giving jeans the boot isn’t such a bad idea then.