Round neck t-shirt £67.50. Marrakesh Wonderblue jeans £190; mih-jeans.com Photo: MiH
Years ago I made a fashion vow almost as momentous (to me at any rate) as Scarlett O’Hara’s “Tomorrow is another day”. However up/down/thin/fat I was feeling, I would never wear jeans to the office – not fashion editrice-y enough. A style maven on a groovy mag might get away with ripped denim, but at a newspaper? Computer said no.
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Trending: Distressed denim
Trending: Spring denim from catwalk to street
Thus far, I’ve diligently complied with this self-imposed denim fatwa . But I might be about to crush this legislation – that’s the beauty of home-made rules isn’t it?
The argument for this is: denim is everywhere. Every single woman I’ve interviewed recently, from Cath Kidston to Inès de la Fressange to Anya I-never-wear-jeans Hindmarch – is wearing blue denim jeans.
Granted, ubiquity is not always a good reason. Not infrequently, it’s the worst. Denim was everywhere in the mid-Noughties. But back then it was school-of-bleeding-obvious that you couldn’t wear jeans to an office where, at any moment, you might run into someone in a suit and tie talking about serious stuff such as Iraq, fiscal irregularities and, er, sport. Because back then, the ubiquitous denim jean was so low-cut and so tight you couldn’t sit down without waving to your kidneys.
Trending: Distressed denim
But now the go-to jean is the Boyfriend, or, as Gap calls its own, the Sexy Boyfriend. Selfridges reports that Boyfriend sales are up 17 per cent on last year. In response, it has just opened a new Denim Studio, with prices that stretch, in the modern denim manner, from £11 (practically unheard of in Selfridges, I wonder if they’ll have enough change) to £11,000 (not a typo).
So far, I really like Gap’s stiff, dark indigo take, and at £49.99 for Japanese denim that’s been hand-dyed by monks at full moon, or something like that. You have to be a serious denim geek to care, but the upshot is to do with oxidisation and allowing sufficient drying time between each dyeing process so the colour doesn’t leech in the wash. The upshot is that it looks very smart and is good value compared with designer versions.
However, I suspect neither Gap’s, nor anyone else’s Boyfriend is truly sexy, owing to some unfortunate leg- shortening properties. But it’s that nonchalant looseness that makes the Boyfriend ideal for the office, and you look thinner – in theory at least. Also, counter-intuitively, the court shoe that the Boyfriend demands turns it into the epitome of a chic-casual item. It doesn’t have to be a high heel, a mid will do. After all, it’s not a flared jean, and nor, if I’m wearing it, will it ever be, because flares look terrible on anyone whose second home is not the catwalk.
So back to Boyfriends. You could, if you’re determined, wear them with flat shoes – Vans’ plimsolls, for instance. But be aware your legs may come out a bit stubby-looking and Dexy’s Midnight Runner-esque. Or maybe that’s just me. I have occasionally seen the combo work beautifully on women with longer legs.
Team the Boyfriend with a crisp man’s shirt or a crepe tunic and tailored jacket, perhaps one of those comfortable jersey ones from Whistles or Banana Republic and it all starts coming together nicely. Don’t forget to turn them up to a 7/8ths length, because just as sexy is over-sold, so the power of a neat ankle is often underestimated.
Ines de la Fressange and a fashion week goer, both in their denim PHOTO: GETTY/BRIDGET FLEMING
J Brand’s Aidan Boyfriend remains one of the most popular styles, despite the £215 to £240 ticket. But as Donna Ida Thornton of jeans specialist Donnaida.com says: “The cost per wear on jeans is really good. They’re probably the hardest working piece in your wardrobe.”
There’s no doubt denim’s going upscale again, with a concurrent move towards higher waisted styles (which can flatter pear shapes). Harrods is also about to open a new room dedicated to jeans, including a Jeans Therapy service to assist with those inevitable dilemmas.
Spring denim from catwalk to street
Such as: how do you wear denim when you’re past 50? In this, I refer you to the aforementioned Inès de la Fressange, who wears it with nifty dark denim Japanese blazers (you’d think double denim was a real act of kamikaze on a grown woman, but it works), Roger Vivier pumps, glossy clutch bags and a lot of expensive looking jewellery.
Then there’s Charlotte Rampling, who makes an oversized denim jacket chic with skinny black trousers, and Michelle Obama (not 50 yet, but a First Lady, which adds at least five years to your age) in a snugly fitted denim dress that shows off all her curves without looking too ta-daaa.
That’s denim for you: however sharply cut, it won’t look too formal; however classic the shape, the denim element will always inject a youthful note. And if you still can’t get your head around jeans (although it’s just a question of good hair and terrific shoes), there’s always Miu Miu’s denim pencil skirt, a smash hit with the Voguettes and as at home at a garden party as at Glasto.