I recently shocked some of my friends in recounting my adjustment of a high-street jacket at a top-notch tailor. They were particularly amazed that I invest so much capital in mass-produced items and that my tailor, a protector of an industry that promotes quality above price, even agrees to provide services; “If I was a tailor” they sniff “I’d refuse to touch anything by that sweat-shop scum.” Sadly, tailors cannot afford to be so principled. Nor is it wise to be; turn down a customer for adjustments and you turn down a future, potentially regular, client.
My friends, baffled by my extensive inventory of adjusted items, asked me if there was anything I hadn’t taken to be adjusted. I had a ready answer; denim. I have never considered having any of my jeans adjusted by a tailor. And until recently, I didn’t see the point. Jeans have always been at the other end of the style spectrum to Savile Row; common and casual. It is this latter quality that has ensured that denim is one of London’s most outlawed materials.
The Ritz Hotel famously denies entry to those in denim, and most London gentlemen’s clubs request that members do not wear jeans. There are even some rather snooty nightspots in the West End that look down on them, particularly if they are rather bedraggled in appearance. The jean is the most casual of trousers and in no century are they more befitting of their position as the pant of the proles than the 21st, for it is my contention that though they are worn on the butts of the billionaires and the board members, jeans have never looked scruffier.
Firstly, they are worn far too long. Jeans should not be worn in the same way as trousers – on the waist – but they should not be worn with such carelessness. Folds and folds get caught under shoes, get chewed and frayed. The honest provenance of denim might not be synonymous with expensive alterations but it’s a mistake to presume that the ill-fitting baggy mess that is the majority of denim has any reference to the working-class origins of the fabric.
Secondly, when was it decided that it is acceptable not to see at least the outline of the denim wearer’s gluteous maximus? The ‘saggy butt’ sin of wearing jeans is that a respectable middle-aged gentleman is suddenly transformed into the male equivalent of lamb-dressed mutton; when trying a pair of jeans on, always make sure you can see the silhouette of your posterior and not the ludicrous likeness of a collapsed stage-curtain.
I saw a gentleman on the telephone outside a chocolate shop recently and when he had ended his call, politely asked him where I could find a pair of jeans similar to those which he was wearing, very well, with a mustard cord jacket, oxblood shoes and a pale blue shirt. He told me they were by Levi but winced awkwardly, and unnecessarily if you ask me, when he added that he had had them ‘adjusted.’ Perfect length, perfect shape; where else could you achieve such eye-catching results than at the tailors?