If you’re stumped as to what to give to someone as a Christmas gift, why not consider a decent pair of blue jeans? If you know the recipient’s size, it’s so easy to find the perfect pair of blue jeans that it’s almost ridiculous. Not only that, but it won’t cost you an arm and leg to buy them. That is, of course, unless the recipient never wears blue jeans.
Blue Jeans in Popular Culture
Jeans are called blue jeans in the US, primarily, because that’s where they first became popular with teenagers in the 1950s. They’re made of denim and the older styles were blue, but they come in a variety of colors and cuts in our modern age. I’m sure they’re called something else in other places, but that’s what they’re called in the Philippines as well as the US. Perhaps it’s the western influence, but I’ll never know for sure.
Every time I hear the mention of “blue jeans”, I recall a music video I watched back in 1985: “Blue Jean” by David Bowie. Now, I’m no David Bowie fan, but certain things stick like glue to my memories when they include popular culture references.
Cut-off blue jeans are sometimes called “Daisy Dukes”. That’s what I heard them called back in the 90s. I know the name is taken from the character of Daisy Duke from the hit TV series of the 70s called “Dukes of Hazzard”, I just don’t know why. Of course, the character always wore cut-offs on the show.
There’s probably a hundred other popular culture references to blue jeans, but I really don’t care to remember them.
Blue Jeans in History
Originally invented in Italy in the 1600s as trousers for seamen, they’ve been with us ever since. The US Navy to this day uses a version of blue jeans called “dungarees”. Until the 1950s, straight-legged blue jeans were the norm. I remember them from childhood in the 1960s.
When buying jeans, you had to buy at least two sizes larger than your actual size. Levi’s, a popular brand with the 501 line, “the original shrink-to-fit jeans”, isn’t kidding. Levi Strauss was selling blue jeans during the California gold rush in the 1850s.
In the 1970s, “bell bottoms” and “flares” became popular, imitating the Navy style and exaggerating it. The increasingly popular blue jeans were targeted for this fashion disaster as well. Seriously, watch some old TV shows from the 70s and look at their feet — you’ll spot the “bell bottom” look which died a quick death in the 80s.
In the 21st century, we have jeans of all colors — even some colors that shouldn’t exist. Have you ever seen puke-green jeans? I have. There are so many different cuts, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with them. You have: straight jeans, baggy jeans, carpenter jeans, capris, overalls, relaxed fit, stone washed, etc. and even the, ugh, bell bottoms.
Shrinkage isn’t a problem anymore, not as far as I can tell. Anyway, the point is that blue jeans should be perfectly acceptable gifts for Christmas. There’s a very strong chance that you’re wearing blue jeans as you read this. I’m wearing blue jeans myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
[Originally published in December, 2008]