Who is responsible for the resuscitation of Levi’s 501 jeans in popular culture? I keep trying to remember, but all I recall is that sometime in the early 2010’s, I turned my back on the reliability of jeans with stretch and began pursuing with the conviction of a squirrel seeking acorn, the Goldilocks of vintage jeans. Not too tight, but not too roomy either! Not low-rise, not exactly high-waist, but not really mid-rise — sort of like a combination of all three? So that, you know, I could half-tuck a sweater into them, but also wear said sweater out if I wanted to. The wash was to be somewhere between light and dark and the hue of blue saturated enough to make me feel like in my quest to ask Instagram if I was successfully channeling Meg Ryan, I did not need X-Pro to manipulate coloring.
I found one pair, once, in the vintage section at The Reformation and wore them until the ass-pockets tore in half, which is the blessing and the curse of non-stretch jeans on the fluctuating body of a woman. Luckily or not, by the time I could no longer wear them, every jeans-maker under the sun was establishing a version of a non-stretch, unidentifiable-rise jeans, which reminds me: the length of the jeans was always suspect too. Neither long nor short, they always looked great in dressing rooms when I was trying them on, not wearing any shoes, but out in the real world, on the concrete of New York’s sidewalks, this stupid length — not cropped, not not cropped but not quite long either — looked terrible with shoes. Why did I never learn this?
Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because I think we’re graduating from the rigid standards of yore. Further, if I may be so assertive, I have a hunchbackofNotreDame I know what’s next.
The Scandinavian fashion brand Ganni has been challenging the assumptions of what makes a pair of jeans good since two summers ago when they released their gigantic-ass versions of JNCOs as paired with flimsy, cropped blouses, tanks and so forth. Then for Fall 2018, they unveiled a new style: mid-rise to be sure; somewhat slim fit, but not too tight; kind of long, but not annoyingly so (which for the purpose of this sentence I will define as a length that requires — I want to have a choice, dammit! — you wear heels). They feature a slight slit on the inner sides of the seams thus generating a puddle effect when worn with flat shoes (bless!) or a slight kick that observers might not pick up when worn with heels. This makes them ideal companions for most shoe types (in my photos, I’m wearing kitten heel sandals, but they’re great with ballet flats and brogues and mid-heel boots too). Given their rise and the way they’re slim but not tight, they also go great with most types of tops — tuck in a button down, throw over a sweater, add a long jacket, a short jacket — a belly ring should you please!
But the greatest feature of these jeans, I’ve got to say from the experience of wearing them, is that when you do ~choose~ to pair them with a slight heel, you get to espouse a sense of mystery akin to that of the response to a really great-but-subtle haircut. Here you’re walking around in jeans that you love, that make you feel great, that are refreshing in their evidence of stretch and rise but lack of weird hem-length, but they’re not so radically different from your other jeans that anyone will know immediately what is different abou you. Because you feel better, you also look better, and that sentiment is released out into the world. Most can’t quite pinpoint why, but you know exactly what it is. You’ve successfully managed to control the third party gaze. What freedom! What power.
If that’s not reason enough to sign up, I invite you to explore the multitude of colors available at Ganni, but also consider how easy this jeans-style is to feign on your own. All you really need is a pre-existing boot cut then a pair of scissors and boom, they’re yours. Consider this case rested for now.