An Inquiry on the Art of Dressing Up Denim
Here at Kempt HQ, we often receive letters from our readers—most of it adoring fan mail—but every so often we get a naked picture. Also every so often, we get a question from an inquiring soul. Which we sometimes answer…
This week, we received a letter in our inbox from a reader who was looking forward to heading to the Mondrian LA for an evening of cocktails and tapas but was at a sticking point: to wear jeans or not to wear jeans. That is the question.
I live on a ranch a little North of LA. Horses, cows, the whole bit… I like to head down to the Big Smoke for a change every now and then, but don’t tell my neighbors. I’m interested in the Mondrian LA evenings and I would like to inquire what constitutes “business casual” in LA these days, where most people seem to enjoy dressing like the homeless. My town uniform du jour is a smart blue blazer, white or striped shirt open (french cuffs and links) clean jeans and cowboy boots, all fresh, shined and polished as appropriate. Stetson sometimes, but maybe not on Sunset. I even wash the horse sh*t off my boots unless it is a special occasion. Seriously, my real concern is the jeans—will that fly at the Mondrian for these occasions?
Personal style always comes down to feeling comfortable in your own skin (and the clothes that drape it). You’re a rancher, you wear a Stetson for a living, that’s your thing. Wear it and make it yours.
As for the getup, it sounds like you’re nailing the classics: navy blazer, dress shirt (though we might suggest you forego the French cuffs for an oxford-cloth shirt like Gitman Bros. Vintage) and boots. Taking the time to make sure your shirt is pressed and boots are shined is half the battle. Jeans used to be a tricky proposition, but nowadays, if worn correctly, even a well-kept pair of 501s should get you through most doors (whether or not that’s a good thing).
If this picture of our Italian comrades-in-style is any indication, you can make jeans feel nearly black-tie-worthy with the right swagger. (And from the sound of it, you shouldn’t have any trouble with that.) Just make sure everything fits in a modern way (avoid the Dallas look) and it shouldn’t matter what material your pants are made of.
Maybe even keep the shit on your boots—LA could use a little mussing up.
- — Najib Benouar