The jeans and t-shirt combo is a long-running obsession of mine—I’ve put it on just about everyday I could since I first heard the enlightening idea that dressing up and dressing well are two entirely different things. Ever since, I’ve been a massive advocate of consistency. Find a personal uniform that you can wear six out of seven days of the week—be it jeans and a t-shirt or chinos and oxford cloth—and eventually you’ll know exactly which 'little things' make for the most cohesive combinations.
The biggest ‘little thing’ I’ve discovered is that the perfect pair of jeans can turn a good outfit into an extraordinary one. But that's not all, those same jeans can turn an otherwise dull outfit into a very put-together look. However, it’s quite difficult to find this mythically cut garment, as evidenced by the endless circle jerk. You could do like so few others have and pick up some ludicrously expensive nut-covers, but let’s be real, not every guy wants to be that into fashion. Instead, I want to talk to you guys about a budget friendly way to carve your perfect pair of jeans from the marble that is readily available across the internet.Cop This Denim
This particular project of mine started the day I learned there were reputable raw denim brands on Amazon, I have no idea how I wasn't already aware but I felt like I just discovered fire. Get it? Naturally, I jumped at the chance to get some sick fades going. I was pleasantly surprised when they arrived.
For starters, the top block fit perfectly. The extra low rise on the 1XX lineup is ideal for the look that I strive for—whatever that may be—though it generally works very well on slim or athletic folk. Equally important was that
they made my butt look the seat fit particularly well. The denim comes with that glorious unfinished texture, the stitching is clean, the leather patch is sturdy, and the hem is chainstitched—just like they used to do it, if you’re into that kind of thing. Oh, and if you’ve never tried a button fly, you’ve yet to experience the satisfaction that comes from popping that shit open at the end of a long day.
About two and a half years ago, I accepted Strong Lifts as my lord and savior. For about a year and a half straight, I did 5x5 heavy squats three times a week. I gave up that lifestyle for other athletic pursuits, but back then I went with Unbranded 201's for the roomier thighs, overall larger top block, and the slightly higher rise. Naked and Famous' Weird Guy cut is very similar to the Unbranded 2XX cut, but N&F carries a lot more options that would suit those making particularly sick gains—namely raw denim with 2% stretch.
All-in-all I was very pleased with the product, but something about the way the hems sat around my sneakers just didn't look right. Fortunately, tailoring exists. But I’ve worked with my local tailor before and, unfortunately, I felt less than confident in their ability to work with that sweet, sweet 12.5 oz raw selvedge denim. So, I set out to tailor these jeans all by myself. I got about halfway through before I realized I had neither the machinery nor expertise to produce a result that I’d be happy with. I learned a lot by digging myself out of this DIY train wreck. I’ll tell you guys how I got good results with an unreliable tailor, I’ll lay out exactly what I asked for, and how I knew what measurements I wanted. I hope you’ll see that it’s an easy process that is well worth it, given how long these jeans can last.
If you’re pressed for time and willing to spend for a reputable tailor, don’t bother with the DIY section that follows. Instead, when you get to the tailor, request that they measure the circumference of your ankle and heel with your toe pointed straight. Specify that you want your jeans to be tight at that point. Request a gradual reverse-taper up to whatever part of the jeans look good.
If you’re seeking a particularly slim look and are capable of comminucating at a spiritual level with your champion of cloth, request that they cut the leg ever-so-slightly slimmer than the calf. Triple check that they know how much material to leave in the calf’s immediate vicinity—if they take too much off you might lose some leg hair and you’ll feel all self concious in shorts and your friends just won’t get it.
Having worked with my local tailor before, I knew I would have some difficulties specifying what I wanted. If you're equally unafraid of doing a little DIY work, grab your heavy duty sewing kit. I intend to write more guides like this so if you’ve got a lot of garments that could fit you just a little better, consider an entry level sewing machine. It’ll save a lot of time and tailor fees in the long run, especially if you hit that thrift shop like Macklemore is still relevant.
Close your blinds and tell your roommates you 'need some privacy' before locking your room and putting your pants on inside out. If you want to maintain your selvege line, know that you should only put pins through the inside leg seams. If you want to maintain your flesh, put the pins in vertically so that the pointy parts are pointing at your junk. Its the safest way, I promise.
Put the hem around your ankle, point your toes away, and pin the fabric as tight as possible. You won’t be able to send a pin through the hem itself, but pinning the fabric nearby will do just fine. Moving up the leg now, pin every few inches around your calf. Try to be careful now as you
stab yourself repeatedly remove them. Take out that hem pin from earlier and repin it an eighth to a quarter inch tighter, use your judgement here. Be careful taking out more than a quarter inch, unless you’re working with 2% elastane. Pin the fabric together from the hem up to the calf. Do your best to have a gradual taper from the hem up to whatever part of the leg fits you well—go past the knee if you have to.
Grab that sewing equipment I mentioned earlier and sew in a tack stitch, remove the pins, check the fit right-side-out, and repeat as needed. The tack stich is pretty easy to remove which makes it great for this kind of thing—you can easily sew another tack line next to one without a care in the world. However, you’ll probably need a seam ripper at some point in this process. I’ve tried getting by with a pair of scissors before on a cheap pair of jeans, but I just sliced right through them. Mark that up as another reason not to fuck with fast fashion.
It will more than likely take you a few tries to get the perfect fit. When you try them on, keep in mind that the excess material trapped inside the leg will cause the jeans to fit a little tighter than normal. Assuming your working with raw denim, don’t worry, those sick stacks will settle perfectly when we remove the bunched up fabric.
With the tack stitch in one leg, I took them to my tailor and asked them to make that seam permanent. You probably won’t have to specify this, but I’ll state the obvious just in case—they should mirror those measurements on both legs. I specified that they should remove fabric from the inside of the leg (to leave that sikk selvedge in tact) which was no problem—remember, we put the pins and tack line on the inside seam. I also requested that they sew it back up with a flat-felled seam. If you’re doing all of this with a pair of raw denim, be sure to explicitly state that you want a flat felled seam.
I told my tailor to use a flat felled seam to make the tack line permanent. My seam went from the hem just up to the knee cap, so I asked twice to make sure they’d be able to sync the seam up with the existing one. They agreed and ensured me they could manage it. Welp. I tried.
They ripped the entire inseam out from the hem up to the crotch. They also replaced the original seam a glorified tack seam. I’ve gotten crotch blow outs with the OG, hefty, "we care about our product" stitching—I feared this crap stitch wouldn’t last a month. I went back and got them fixed free of charge by simply stating that they told me that they were going to use a flat felled seam in the first place. Next time I get this done, I’ll be even more explicit about what I want up front. If your tailor is anything like mine, being persistent can’t hurt.
Don’t worry—if they come back too tight, you can always stretch them out a little bit. Initially, my pair was pretty tough to put on and take off. I stretched them out a bit by leaving the hem over my heel for about twenty minutes. You could also try to find something around the house to wedge in there. Point being, it’ll be easy to stretch them out a smidge. If you’re looking for a serious taper, it’s better for them to come out slightly tight rather than spot on, because they'll stretch out in no time. Besides, even in the absolute worst case, you’ll get a chance to embrace your inner rockstar and install a zipper. Regardless, my pair comes off just fine now.Shop UB101
So, um, it turns out that The Unbranded Brand has recently developed a new fit. The "Tight" line-up appears to be similar to my end result, and better still, a lot of them have 1% stretch in them. That little bit of stretch means that, if they aren't tapered enough right off that bat, you can get them tailored just right and you'll even be able to take them off normally.Shop Tight Fit (4XX)
If the thought of a slightly-too-tight hem keeps you up at night,
seek help just use your judgement going through this process. The measurements I mention here are not law and I won't be offended if you completely ignore them. The biggest thing I want everyone to take away from this post is this;