Rutter: Not even Brits can take away my jeans

A pair of 1893 Levi-Strauss denim blue jeans in pristine condition that went up for auction this month.

Owing to a devoted sister's sympathy for her dispirited brother, I got my first real pair of blue jeans when I was way past 55. It was a divorce consolation prize.

All things considered, I always thought I got the better end of the deal.


I wore them relentlessly, religiously, defiantly because they were the most comfortable pants I'd ever possessed. They fit my odd-shaped body, too, which is always a pleasant surprise for men. Plus, they were my sister's concern for my soul made manifest.

But that ended when they disintegrated into holes connected by swatches of tattered blue denim.


They were the first pair of pants I had ever worn out. Their functionality perished nobly as I dug in the garden dirt one month, trying to make tomatoes grow.

But I still keep them packed away in a box of personal, revered valuables. They remind me of my sister, and how she was my best friend in the whole world when it appeared that world was out to dismember me.

In the intervening years, I have worn jeans all the time and have no plans, or fashion sense, to stop.

Now customer research indicates I am woefully out of touch, out of tune and out of fashion aptitude. But this is no new phenomenon for me. I have always been happily and insistently out of touch.

As new consumer research contends, I got my first real pair of blue jeans several years after I should not have been allowed to wear them in public. My French stripper nickname is Faux Pas.

Now comes the British to announce to all of us older than 53 that jeans have passed their expiration date for us, and we have passed our expiration date for jeans. You're now banned from 501s.

A 2,000-person survey conducted for a British parcel delivery and return service firm named CollectPlus affirms that Brits believe 53 is the cutoff. I don't know any of those involved in this survey beyond knowing they are all dead wrong.

Because the English believe themselves arbiters of all matters cool and fashion-related, we'd suppose they mean this inhibition should apply to us Colonial cousins across The Pond.


Maybe they have soured on jeans because finding good ones on The Old Sod appears quite taxing. Brits spend as long as five days looking for the ideal fit. They also calculate that, aside from what the jeans cost, the hidden price for traveling to and from stores, parking, postage, packaging and even return payments total an added $45, give or take a few shillings.

The survey also found that 6 percent of responding Brits find the jean-shopping tragedy so emotionally difficult that they burst into tears regularly.

I've never spent more than an hour finding great jeans, though I am a brisk buyer of things that suit me, not a studious shopper.

From my view, this British opinion explains why they mindlessly left the European Union, can't unload a charming but pointless 200-year-old queen and lost their empire.

As for the crying jags, maybe they only now learned the empire has misplaced India and Ireland.

If this survey truly measures British opinion, they should find a short pier and leap off the end of it.


According to OnEarth magazine, Americans buy 450 million pairs of jeans a year, 1.5 pairs for every man, woman and child. The average American woman has eight pairs in her closet.

The British have been writing hopeful news stories for years predicting the imminent demise of blue jeans. Because jeans are an American invention — by immigrants naturally — perhaps the British have no cultural affection for them.

But they are expectorating into a strong wind.

Even the company that commissioned the survey now says it won't stand by the results.

By the survey's presumed standard, Daniel "007" Craig has only five more years before he'd have to retire his favorite pants — jeans. A retroactive ditto for jeans lover George Clooney, who is 55 and apparently lost his jeans passport two years ago without being told.

Craig and Clooney don't need anyone to define or legislate their coolness.


If original Levi's 501 jeans are good enough for Clooney, they're good enough for my odd body.

Because I missed the first five decades of the jeans experience, the next five decades belong to my jeans and me.

David Rutter was editor for 40 years at six newspapers.