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Friday, November 24, 2017


Related imageRaw-denim jeans are magic.  Broken in correctly, they change their shape to fit you like no other clothing item can.  And -- somehow -- they keep that fits-you-perfectly shape even after you wash them.  But the magic only works if you break them in right.

Here's how:

1. DO NOT wash them right away.  Good raw-denim jeans already will be pretty tight when you get them.  If you wash before wearing, then there’s a good chance that they will shrink up so small that you’ll never get them on.

2. DO NOT get them hemmed right away. Raw denim shrinks a LOT when you wash it.  If you get them hemmed before you wash them (which you SHOULD NOT DO right away), then they’ll be too short afterwards. Roll them up.  Endure the compliments from hipsters.

3. Wear them frequently without washing for at least a month.  Raw denim creases and bends a lot like thin cardboard.  Your goal is to make the denim crease's match yours -- e.g., the jeans' knees should bend in the exact same place that yours legs do -- and to grow accustomed to bending where you bend.  The thicker the denim, the longer it will take.  I wore my 11-weight for six weeks before I soaked them, my 14-weight for six months, and my 18-eight for nine months.  If they start to smell, then let them air out outside.

4. Don’t fold them. Hang them straight – I loop one of the back belt loops over the neck of a hanger, and let the jeans hang full length. Two reasons: 1. If you fold jeans that you’re not washing, then they won’t air out at all, and they will start to smell. 2. The whole point of raw denim is to let it form to your body. That doesn’t work if you flatten them out every time that you wear them. After a while, hanging them gets a bit creepy, because you keep seeing – out of the corner of your eye – your own torso-less body lurking in your closet. That’s a good thing.

5. Important Yet Optional Step: Once the creases in your raw denim have set, soak your jeans and let them dry on your body. I have done this in two ways: 1. By wearing them in the bath tub while I read a book, then letting the water out and letting them dry on me as I sat outside and kept reading the book. 2. By wearing them into the swimming pool, then letting the dry on me poolside. This step is important because it will shape the denim to your body like nothing else will. It is optional because you will be mocked by anyone who catches you doing it. If the words “fashion victim” sound bad when applied to you, then you may just have to settle for less-comfortable jeans.

6. Wear them for at least another month. Wear them hard. Climb trees. Do yard work. Go backpacking. Sweat lots.

7. Wash them, inside out, on cold. Don’t wash them with other clothes – the dye will stain everything else in the wash. I never wash my Brave Stars with other clothes. I don’t know how long it takes for all of the extra dye to bleed out of raw denim.

8. Tumble dry on extra low.

9. Try them on.  Be amazed.  Feel bad about rolling your eyes the first time that you read this post.

10. Decide whether you want to get them hemmed. The hipster way is to wear them rolled up, showing off the selvage stitching. I am not a hipster – I get mine hemmed.

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