Can We Talk About Jeans?

Send my pro-corduroy form letter to your favorite celebrity now!

Can we talk about jeans for moment? Seriously. How is it that one of the most uncomfortable pant forms the world has ever known became the most popular leg covering in America? Scientific fact: jeans are the worst. Everyone knows it, and yet everyone continues to wear them. Jeans are rough, rigid and ugly. They pinch and prod. They choke and constrict. Every moment you are wearing them is a moment you’re counting down the minutes until you can get home and take them off. Sure, women have leggings, and that’s promising, but I, along with half the planet, am not a woman. We need universal comfort potential when it comes to pants (which I acknowledge is ironic since most women’s clothing is horribly uncomfortable).

As it stands today, there are essentially two socially acceptable male alternatives to jeans: khakis and slacks. Both are acceptable alternatives to jeans like iced tea is an acceptable alternative to beer. In other words, only if you have a problem. Sure, slacks can be comfortable in some cases, but generally they are nearly as rigid as jeans. Their real issue, though, is they aren’t good casual wear and might even be too much at work depending on your job. And khakis? Don’t get me started on khakis. If cement came to life and had to wear pants it would wear khakis. They’re even more rigid than jeans and nearly as rough. Gross. But what’s a comfort-minded gentleman to do? Throw any sense of shame to the wind and start wearing sweat pants? Fortunately, that’s not necessary.

THERE IS ANOTHER…

There exists a third, socially-acceptable alternative. It’s comfortable. It’s handsome. It’s a classic. It’s something that has been periodically praised praised by fashionistas and fashionistos throughout history. At the moment, however, it is woefully out of fashion. I’m talking, of course, about corduroy. That feather-soft, washboard miracle fabric. God’s favorite business casual textile. The velvet above ground.

Corduroys, also known as “cords” by the cool kids, were very popular when I was in junior high in Colorado circa 1996-1998. I loved my cords and they loved me back. In fact, I didn’t even own a pair of jeans until I got to high school. It was magical time in which men and boys of all creeds, colors and classes could come together to wear a type of pant that looked Victorian-gentleman-sharp but left the wearer’s leg with a relaxed, gentle caress akin to pajamas.

So it’s well known that corduroys are just the best. That is, once again, scientific fact. So why is it that they keep falling out of fashion? I’ll tell you why. Fashion is a bottomless pit of random nothingness, an endlessly revolving treadmill of arbitrary looks that must constantly shift lest the uncool catch up with the trendsetters and the world grows unable to tell them apart. Even the perennial favorite jeans must change their appearance every few years, moving from baggy to skinny from skinny to bell bottom, from dark to acid-washed, from intact to torn as if worn since the wearer was a child.

Fashion is, in other words, bullshit—bullshit whose rules disfavor corduroy as we know it. For cords to gain a permanent foothold, corduroys must flow with the river of bullshit. They must find a way to vary their look from year to year like jeans do, what I call “intra-style” variation. As corduroy technology currently stands, most cords look basically the same. Sure, there are different colors, and perhaps the little ridges might vary somewhat in their thickness, but when cords are in, all cords are in, and when cords are out, all cords are out. What we need is for only one type of cord to come in at a time so that when that goes out a new type can fill the void immediately to protect our right to casual comfort from the denim menace.

THE TWO-PRONGED APPROACH TO CORDUROY SUSTAINABILITY

I propose a two-pronged approach to achieve our noble goal. First, we need to bring cords back in style. It’s currently winter in men’s pants fashion. All the good styles have withered and died. We’re left in an icy blue denim wasteland, hoping every year to catch a glimpse of those first velvety shoots to poke through the well-dressed soil in NYC and LA signaling spring is upon once again and once again we can rejoice. Cords have been out of style for around a decade and half at this point. This is generally a sufficient amount of time for a revival, particularly for one as general as fabric type. See, for example, flannel. That shit ain’t been popular since ’94 dagnabbit, and yet here it comes again.

To bring something back in style, we need a catalyst. The most efficient and effective catalyst is, of course, a celebrity. We need someone famous, visible, beloved, and relatable to don to the corduroy banner once again and lead the charge. My personal recommendations are Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lawrence. Both are popular right now. Both tend to wear things at the forefront of fashion without being avant garde or beyond the reach of the average person. And both have the sort of public visibility and likability that people will want to achieve for themselves.

So how do we get said celebs? In order to get them on board I would recommend a letter writing campaign. I have included a form letter below. It explains the purpose and reasoning behind a corduroy revival and includes sections for you to add your own personal experiences with the beloved fabric in order to give each letter an individual touch. Use this as a springboard for your own letter, mind you, not as a crutch. We don’t want these beloved celebs bombarded with thousands of the exact same letter, just thousands of similar letters.

What I’ve discussed  up until now has actually been the easy part. Bringing cords back in fashion has been done since the dawn textiles, and there’s no reason it can’t happen again. The second prong, though, that’s where we change the world. That’s where we change the way people think about cords. This is where we introduce intra-style variation. For this part we need to make sure that what is brought back in style is only a fraction of the corduroy universe so that as fashion drifts it need not drift away from corduroy entirely, but just to a different kind of corduroy. This will most likely require us to expand the corduroy universe with new, previously unseen styles. It will then require picking a specific style, and sticking with only that style for the new fashion trend.

I propose skinny, “patches” corduroy to start with. That is, only make corduroy composed of sewn together squares of corduroy with the ridges facing in alternating directions for each patch. For the real rebels the patches can be different colors. For everyone else they can be the same color. I say skinny just because skinny pantaloons seem to be in right now and it might be easier to get the general public to swallow the plan that way. After 5-10 years of this fashion, we can make the switch to baggier (or just “relaxed fit”) cords with straight, patch-free lines. Maybe they can be trendily worn too at some point? Perhaps a hole in the knee? It doesn’t matter. The world is our canvas!

Let me just finish this up by saying join me! Join me in exterminating the scourge of jeans. Join me promoting a timeless classic. Above all, join me in comfort.

 

FORM LETTER

Just fill in the “insert here” fields and send this off to your favorite celebrity in the hope that they may see the light and give corduroy the permanent place in our wardrobes that it deserves.

Dear (insert celebrity name here),

I have always greatly enjoyed your (insert description of the type of work the celebrity is famous for here; if celebrity is Paris Hilton-famous, compliment their appearance instead). (Insert a specific production/work the celebrity did here) was a true inspiration to me. That part where (insert a specific scene/portion of the work that you enjoyed here) gave me chills.

Given your exceptional talents, I assume you to be the sort of person who cares deeply about ethics, progress and the fate of the human race. That’s why I’m writing to you about corduroy. For too long, America has been left with little choice for casual leg coverings beyond denim pants, commonly known as “jeans.” While these may have been a suitable leg covering for grizzled 19th-century gold miners, they are not a sensible choice for the modern American.

Jeans are as rigid as their fabric is rough and grating against the skin. Not only that, they shrink and tighten every time you wash them. How many times have you taken a freshly washed pair of jeans out of the dryer and wondered how your once supple pants turned into sandpaper two sizes smaller than when you put them in? How many times have you taken a pair off in the evening to reveal deep red imprints on your waist? For me, it happens on a daily basis.

This is why America has a dire need for an alternative to jeans. While there has been a recent and promising new trend in the social acceptability of women’s leggings, men are still sorely in need of a publicly wearable, comfort-centric leg covering. Not to mention, who knows how long the legging trend will last? Corduroy has a potential something as novel as leggings just can’t. Cords have long been a staple of the comfortable yet stylish man’s wardrobe in good times. Sadly, this magnificent textile comes in and out of style with the ebb and flow of the tides of fashion. What we need is a permanent trend towards cords.

That’s why I need your help. As a well-known and beloved celebrity, you are a prime mover of the American wardrobe. What you wear on a daily basis has profound implications for our fashion for years to come (and in the case of Iowa and Kansas, decades to come).

I propose a two-pronged approach: first towards bringing them back in style right now, and second in making sure they stay in style by providing a variety of different corduroy trends, only one of which will be in style at any given time.

The first part is easy. You just need to be seen around town in cords. So get out there! Slide into a pair of velvet washboard and go to dinner. Or maybe fly a kite or go roller skating? It’s up to you. With a pant as versatile as corduroy you’ll be appropriately dressed for practically anything. Just make sure you get photographed so John and Susie celeb watcher see.

The second part will be a bit more difficult. In order for it to work you must ensure that only a small segment of the total possible corduroy styles are in fashion at any given time. Have your corduroy tailor sew you up some cords as distinct from other cords as skinny jeans are from acid wash or bell bottoms. I suggest cords made of some sweet patches with the ridges going different directions with each patch. You could also try a particularly large or small wale (that’s the distance between ridges), a skinny of baggy thing or maybe just make one color in style. I myself am partial to gold. It’s totally up to you, though. I just want to make sure cords are here to stay!

In closing, I’d just like to point out that this isn’t just a comfort issue. My research has revealed that when corduroy is in style America almost always benefits economically. It’s an underappreciated fact that the Roarin’ Twenties were fueled mostly by a corduroy boom. What historians have discovered is that with the specter of Prohibition looming large newly sober Americans were finding themselves increasingly unable to put up with the uncomfortable pants materials at the time. So where did they turn? You guessed it. Corduroy! It was only when the stock market crashed in 1929 and Congress decided the nation could use a good, stiff drink and repealed Prohibition (thus ushering in an increased tolerance for discomfort) that cords fell out of favor. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Consider the last time corduroys were fashionable: the mid-90s, one of the rapidest periods of economic expansion in US History. You and I know this is no mere coincidence. Comfortable legwear has long been associated with substantial increases in productivity. This is half the rationale for telecommuting. In any case, I think it’s pretty clear what’s right for America right now. Thanks for your help.

Admiringly,

(insert your name here)

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