I consider myself a fan of denim. I love how a pair of blue jeans can define an outfit, adding something unique and immediately identifiable. I remember scrolling through Ralph Lauren lookbooks, admiring the way mustard brown soft corduroy blazers offset the hard utility of indigo denim and how a deep blue blazer lifted a pair of overwashed jeans from the commonplace to the attractively preppy.
I have never bought into the ‘I hate denim’ shtick. It never made sense that something so familiar, hard-wearing and useful as denim could be ridiculed as being ‘inappropriate for a gentleman’ or ‘only suitable for peasants.’ The crass snobbery behind such opinion is obscenely unbecoming and merely takes advantage of the dogma that plagues online forums. It is also entirely a matter of opinion whether a gentleman deems the garment appropriate for himself.
However, I have grown increasingly aware that denim is playing an ever more limited role in my own wardrobe. Gone are the default-days; the weekend days when denim is my first choice. Gone are the denim-evenings; the times when I would always choose a pair of jeans for a night out. And, crucially, gone are the denim-summers; as cool as Britain’s summers are, wearing jeans on a close June afternoon is simply unbearable. This is why, recently, I have been swapping my denim for cotton chinos.
I once wore a pair of heavy indigo jeans on holiday. For departing chilly Heathrow, they were fine, as they were on the flight (although chinos are marginally more comfortable when sat in for long distances) but when I arrived at my sunny and intensely warm destination, I began to overheat. Standing outside the car hire station, waiting for a vehicle to arrive, my legs were melting. Trying to tell myself that I was avoiding premature sunburn didn’t help; I gazed at fellow hirers, wheeling their luggage to air-conditioned vehicles in shorts, linen trousers and, yes, even cotton chinos. My jeans, and my unfortunate situation, felt like condemnation.
The worst thing is that a sense of relief does not occur until the jeans have been removed. Cooling down in air-conditioning still leaves a sticky, itchy and uncomfortable feeling up and down the legs. There is a sense of dirtiness, of imprisonment; the jeans at which I stare, so happy and well-servicing back in Blighty, were the jailors of my legs. Admittedly, the sensation of wearing jeans in heat is often so bad that the pleasure of removing them – and later showering and relaxing with a G&T – is improved; the sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour. However, the consistent coolness one feels with a pair of light, breathable chinos is vastly superior. Ditch the denim this summer; your legs demand it.