Sunday, October 1, 2017

Lana Del Ray – "Blue Jeans" (2012)

Blue jeans, white shirt
Walked into the room 
You know you made my eyes burn

In 2010, the New Yorker ran a profile of Mickey Drexler, who was then the CEO of J. Crew.

According to that piece, Drexler wore the same thing to work every day:

[Drexler] wore what he always wears: a heather-gray T-shirt; a striped Thomas Mason blue-and-white button-down with the shirttails out; slim, artfully aged Swedish jeans; and Alden cordovan wingtips. He believes that a man needs a uniform, and this is his; he gave up wearing suits years ago, as soon as he could.

Mickey Drexler, in uniform, with his wife
Drexler recently stepped down as the CEO of J. Crew, which is losing money hand over fist.

But regardless of whether J. Crew ends up declaring bankruptcy due to Drexler’s being a bad CEO, he’s right about one thing: A MAN NEEDS A UNIFORM.  And preferably one that doesn’t involve a suit, a dress shirt, and a tie. 

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Jeans are an integral component of my uniform as well – although I wear plain old Levi’s, not “artfully aged Swedish jeans.”

Believe it or not, shopping for Levi’s is a surprisingly complicated task.

Knowing what size to buy isn’t the problem – I’ve been buying the same size Levi’s (36 x 34) for 40 years.  (As the immortal Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”)

Dizzy Dean in 1957
The problem is that Levi’s makes 17 different styles of jeans for men . . . that’s cray cray!

Would you like to know how I figured out which style was right for me?  

First of all, I eliminated Levi’s 501 jeans from consideration because they have a button fly instead of a zipper.  I think I last bought 501s in 1975 or so – Levi’s blue jeans were so stiff back in the pre-prewash days that I found it virtually impossible to button or unbutton the fly, which can lead to serious difficulties.  (Especially after a couple of quart bottles of 3.2% beer.)

I also eschewed the 560 and 569 styles, which are described as “loose fit” jeans.  (The 560 has a tapered leg, while the 569 has a straight leg.)  If they were honest, Levi’s would have described them as “really fat ass” jeans.

The same goes for the 550 and 559 styles, which the company calls “relaxed fit.”  Translation: 550’s and 559’s are for guys whose ass is fat, but not fat enough to require 560’s or 569’s.

Levi's outlet store
Next, I eliminated the 517 and 527 styles because they have “boot cut” legs.  I’m not really a cowboy-boot kind of guy.

The 541 is described as having an “athletic fit,” which sounds like it’s intended for someone who’s pretty lean.  But the 541 has a roomy seat and thighs.  In other words, it’s designed for athletes with tree-trunk thighs – like offensive lineman, shot-putters, and heavyweight wrestlers.

For years, I wore Levi’s 505 jeans, which the company describes as “regular fit/straight leg.”  I felt pretty good that I didn’t need “relaxed fit” or “loose fit” jeans, but I eventually realized that the “regular fit” was pretty roomy.  So I’ve pitched my 505 jeans – even though they were featured on the cover of the Sticky Fingers album . . . which may explain why I started wearing them in the first place.  (The Ramones wore the 505 as well, which surprises me.  They’re dad jeans.)

The Ramones in 505 jeans
And since the 514 style is also described as “regular fit/straight leg,” I figure there’s no point in considering it.  Why does the world need two different “regular fit/straight leg” styles of Levi’s?  Beats the hell out of me.

Makes that three different “regular fit/straight leg” styles: the 504 “mimics the 505 almost identically in style and fit.”  (The 504’s leg opening is a quarter-inch smaller.  Big effing deal.)

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I figured that the “extreme skinny fit” 519 style wasn’t really for me.  

Here’s what the Levi’s website has to say about that style: “Super skinny through the hip and thigh, all the way down through the 12 1/4-inch leg opening, these jeans are probably more for show than comfort.”  

Actually, I might have given the 519 a try except for that 12 1/4-inch leg opening.  

Those of you who are my age probably remember the craze of “pegging” jeans back in the sixties.  Levis’ only came in one style back then, so if you wanted skinny legs on your jeans – which we all did – you had to persuade your mother to take a razor blade to the seams of your jeans legs and then sew them back up so the legs were much skinnier.  

Super skinny 519 jeans
I remember struggling mightily to get my pegged jeans on and off because I couldn’t get my feet through the openings – I wore size 12 shoes when I was in 8th grade – and the last thing I need to have happen when I’m trying on jeans at the Levi’s outlet store is to have to call the fire department to brings  to get the damn things off.  

The 512 jeans have an ever smaller leg opening than the 519s do – only 12 inches – so I didn’t even bother trying on that style.

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Let’s review the bidding.  Looks like we’re down to four styles: the 502, 510, 511, and 513.

The 502 is basically a 505 with a tapered leg – a 14 1/2-inch opening rather than a 16 1/2-inch opening.    It’s OK, but it’s cut the same in the thigh as the 505, which is a little loose for my taste.

The 513 is sort of the opposite of the 502 – it’s cut thin in the seat and thighs, but has straight legs (15 3/4-inch leg opening).

The “skinny fit” 510 jeans – which Levi’s says are for “skateboarders and rock and rollers” – actually fit me pretty well.  I should have given them more serious consideration, but I chickened out.  (I have a healthy fear of looking ridiculous.  And a 65-year-old man wearing “skinny fit” jeans designed for skateboarders and rock and rollers could easily be viewed as ridiculous.)

That leaves the 511, which has a tapered leg that’s not too tapered, and a slim fit that’s not too slim.  

Levi's 511 blue jeans
Here’s the description of the 511 from the Levi’s website:

Levi’s 511s are for modern men who follow fashion trends, but aren’t necessarily trying to squeeze into anything.  They’re slim and narrow, but not uncomfortable, and they go well with everything from t-shirts and hoodies to loafers and blazers.

Best for: Fashion-forward men unwilling to sacrifice comfort

If that doesn’t describe yours truly to a “T,” I’m a monkey’s uncle.

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So the 511 is my jean du jour – at least for today – while the 502 is a good second option.  (When I tried both style on, I could barely tell the difference.)

You’ll never guess what my third choice would be: the 541.  

On my last trip to the Levi’s outlet store, the manager suggested I try on the 541.  I thought he was nuts – after all, the 541 is extra roomy in the thigh and seat, which is the exact opposite of what I was looking for.  

“Just try a pair of 541s with a waist size two inches smaller than your usual size,” he told me.

And he was right – a pair of 541s with a 34-inch waist fit almost exactly the same as 502s or 511s with a 36-inch waist.  

What the hell, Levi’s?  What’s with the waist-size shenanigans?  A rose is a rose is a rose, and a 36 should be a 36 should a 36 – right?

Although now that I think about it, it might have been the smart move to get the 541s.  Guys my age who look like a boss in jeans with a 34-inch waist are few and far between.

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Lana Del Ray’s career was almost over before it got started when her appallingly bad performance of “Blue Jeans” on Saturday Night Live in 2012 was panned by everyone from Brian Williams (“One of the worst outings in SNL history”) to Juliette Lewis ("Wow, watching this 'singer' on SNL is like watching a 12-year-old in their bedroom when they're pretending to sing”).

But Lana was able to right the ship after that disaster.  Earlier this year, her critically-acclaimed fifth studio album, Lust for Life, debuted at #1 on the Billboard album chart.

Here’s “Blue Jeans”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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