Back to school usually means buying jeans, and boy, can that be an experience! I can remember not so long ago when there was one brand of jeans and a limited assortment of sizes and styles. That was before the advent of designer labels, designer jeans, and custom-tailored jeans. Buying a pair of jeans has become a lot more complex, and social scientists think they see a trend.
Professor Mark Caldwell in his book A Short History of Rudeness: Manners, Morals and Misbehavior in Modern America talks about buying jeans at The Gap. He says, “In the 1990s, a trip to The Gap in search of jeans exposes one to a choice of styles greater (and far more freighted with significance) than the range of exotic mushrooms beckoning the gourmand at Dean & DeLuca.”
He talks about the evolution of denim jeans from lower-class work wear to middle-class play attire, including sartorial distinctions that help high-school students define themselves as “jocks,” “burnouts” and “in-between” kids. One of the author’s friends believes that blue jeans are “a skeleton key to the mysteries of manners.” Another commentator talks of “designer jeans” providing a collision of values because they are tacky to the Levis-clad bourgeoisie and stylish to the working class.
I bet you didn’t know there was so much to buying a pair of jeans, unless of course you have a fashion-conscious teenager in the house. Buying jeans can take on the same level of complexity as buying a new car with all the options.
You know, I think it’s time for social scientists to stop writing silly books about manners, etiquette, and jeans. These are just jeans for heavens sake! And maybe we should stop buying exotic jeans so they have less to write about.
I’m Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that’s my opinion.
© 1999 Probe Ministries International