Khelan Style: I Dream of Jean(s) with the (not-so) Light Blue Wash

by Borderstan.com March 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm 1,436 9 Comments

From Khelan Bhatia. You can follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB. He lives in the U Street area and writes about style for Borderstan.

Happy End of the Week, Borderstanis! I hope you’ve enjoyed this gorgeous weather with a new piece of Spring-time outwear I suggested last week.

So, speaking of last week, I hinted that I was a bit of a denim addict. Did I mention that I’m also the master of the understatement?

Over the past four years, I think I’ve easily bought around 70 pairs of jeans from multiple designers in varying washes, fits and states of distress. I won’t even attempt to calculate how much I spent because that way leads to madness. And eating my feelings. Which means I won’t be able to fit into the jeans I do have.

The only cut you really need is the slim straight. Not the boot-cut, not the carrot-top, not the super-stretchy skinny (i.e. male jeggings or MaJeggings) and never, ever the “relaxed” fit. Washes? Medium blue faded, darker wash, raw selvedge and white. Black and gray are optional.

Anyway, instead of indulging in my retail-therapy insanity, I thought I’d exorcize my denim-demons through some friendly advice. In other words, do as I say, don’t do as I do.

The Four (Maybe Six) Pairs of Jeans You Need

You only need four pairs of jeans in your wardrobe.  Well, maybe six, but the last two are nice to haves, not must haves.

Khelan Bhatia, Borderstan

Khelan Bhatia: What four (maybe six) pairs of jeans do you need?

First of all, the only cut you really need is the slim straight. Not the boot-cut, not the carrot-top, not the super-stretchy skinny (i.e. male jeggings or MaJeggings) and never, ever the “relaxed” fit.

Depending on the designer, these all have different names. At Uniqlo, they’re referred to as slim straight, which is easy enough to remember. Then things get slightly more complicated. J.Crew has two basic varieties of slim straights: the vintage slim and the 484 slim. I prefer the latter as it’s a more flattering cut. High-end designers like Seven for All

Mankind and Nudie Jeans have the whimsical-sounding Slimmy and Slim-Jim, respectively. My denim label of choice, Levi’s, calls ’em the 511 skinny jean, which is a little confusing considering they have a 514 slim straight (frankly, I find these to be too baggy and the openings are kinda flared) and a 510 super skinny (the aforementioned super-stretchy skinny).

The thing to remember about Levi’s is that, unlike other designers, they don’t use vanity sizing. Which means that if you’re a 30″ waist in other jeans, you’ll probably need a 32″ for Levi’s. And if your inseam is 32″, you should get a 30″ inseam. If you prefer to roll up your jeans, then stick with the longer inseam.

The Four Washes You Need

Now that we’ve got the cut out of the way, let’s talk about the washes. The following are the only four washes you’ll need in your wardrobe.

  • The medium blue faded wash: This is the perfect “day time” jean (but can be worn to more casual evening events). This is the quintessential jean in my opinion because it goes with just about everything in your closet. From that plaid shirt, to the grey sweater, to the black polo to the graphic tee.
  • The darker wash: This is a dressier jean that works perfectly for “date night.” Also, if you’re allowed to have casual Friday at your office, this is the pair that I’d wear. The gray wash: The “neutral” jean that’s a great alternative to a traditional blue wash. The black wash: Go on…be a rockstar. You know you want to.
  • While not essentials, I recommend two additional jeans if you’ve got the funds and, in the latter case, the chutzpah: The raw selvedge jean — for the denim connoisseur. This is raw denim from Japan and, usually, quite expensive.
  • White jeans: Ok, these can be rather tricky, but when pulled off well, they’re the perfect spring/summer jean. I love wearing my pair with a grayish-blue chambray shirt or a black polo.

The other options are the gray wash and the black wash.

That’s it for me this week. Have a terrific weekend.

BTW, that noise you’re hearing? It’s my friends in the neighborhood simultaneously laughing at me recommending only four to six pairs of jeans.

  • Was that picture taken in Paris??

    • Khelan

      Yep, sure was.

    • Mandy


  • Carl

    Great title! Guess I need to throw out my carrot-tops…

  • Sam

    Nothing but the slim straight cut ever? Does this go for guys who might need to lose a few pounds? What about age?

    • khelan

      I’d say the slim straight looks good regardless of age. For example, my dad, who is turning 65 years old this year, has a pair of vintage slims from J.Crew and they look great on him.

      Weight could be an issue, but a pair of dark slim straights (in the right size) could actually be wearing slimming. Whereas, a “roomier” jean could make a guy look heavier. It’s similar to a tailored-cut or slim-fitting shirt vs. a boxier shirt that may blouse more. The one exception to this is if a guy has very large legs, then he ought to look for just a pair of straight-legs, like Levi’s 501s.

      As an aside, the 511’s, which I recommended in the column, are slimmer versions of the 501’s.

  • Mandy

    “… and never, ever the “relaxed” fit.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. The day my fiancee comes home in slim straights/skinny jeans (both the same, one is just tighter than the other) I’m sending him to Dupont Circle and calling the whole thing off.

    • Khelan

      He sounds like a lucky guy :).

    • Salman

      I think Mandy needs a lesson in fashion. Slim straight and skinny are NOT the same thing. They are actually quite different. And to equate that with the being gay is just plain ignorant…even if you’re “just trying to be funny”.


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