Buy Less, Wear More: How to Care for Your Denim

Despite the fickle state of fashion, denim has maintained its premier place in our collective closet. Case in point, 1.25 billion pairs of jeans are sold worldwide each year. However, considering that denim was designed for durability, the rate at which people are buying new jeans is staggering. To counter the environmental impact of this consumer cycle, some denim lines, like Bluer, are jumping off the fast fashion train and instead focusing on producing fewer, better styles of jeans sourced from more sustainable denim and manufactured to ensure the lifespan doesn’t include a landfill as a final resting place.

Reasons to care for your pair of denim

Like any heirloom: that embroidered tablecloth, self-winding watch or lucky Chinese money plant, denim needs to be properly cared for to make it last. If you need a reason to keep your jeans intact, consider this:

Finding a pair of jeans that fit, I mean, really fit is nothing short of miraculous. Whether you’re pear-shaped, long-legged or short-waisted, it can be a tedious process of trial and error. With all that time invested, you’ll want to make sure those jeans are going to serve you for a long time, lest you have to start the journey all over again.

If you spent time searching for the right pair of jeans, chances are you invested money, too. What better way to recoup your costs than to maximize your wears. Think of it this way: if you spend $150 on a great-fitting pair of jeans that you wear 3 times a week for 5 years, that comes down to just about .20 cents per wear, a pretty great ROI.

The environment is reeling from over-consumption, affecting our water, landfills and the air we breathe. The less we buy, the better our planet will be.

How to make denim last

Taking care of your jeans for any reason doesn’t have to be complicated and there’s no app or activated charcoal necessary, just a few simple steps:

1) Buy the Right Pair

If you want your jeans to last, you have to start with the right fit. The reasons are two-fold: one, if you love the way you look in them, you’ll be more inclined to treat them tenderly so they’ll last. Second, jeans that are too tight mean more pressure in areas like the waistband or thighs that can cause premature wear. If length is an issue, a quick hem job solves any fraying that can happen from dragging on the ground. If you’re not into DIY, most dry cleaners offer minor alterations for a nominal fee. If that’s still too much of a hassle, opt for a pair of selvage denim; the straight-edge looks polished when it’s cuffed and there’s no risk of stepping on the hem. All of this is moot if you buy a flimsy pair of jeans, so it goes without saying if you want your jeans to last, buy a quality pair. Look for denim that’s woven in a quality mill. Bluer Denim is made in mills that emphasize innovation, quality and durability.

2) Wash Infrequently

We’ve already given you the down low on washing, but in between days, try spot cleaning. Use a damp cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush that’s been swished in a simple dish soap or low pH laundry soap. Remember: blot, don’t rub, so you don’t inadvertently make an unwanted fade mark. Some people have luck with the magic eraser, since it has a fairly mild abrasion and can help get out dried or caked-on bits. But if that’s the case, you might want to reevaluate your table manners.

3) No beach volleyball

Yes, jeans are sturdy and durable, which is why every motorcycle rider and gold miner swear by them. However, unless your denim workwear is subsidized, don’t wear them for rigorous activities that involve excess sweating or stretching. Despite Tom Cruise crushing serves in a San Diego park in 501’s, denim won’t easily bounce back from aggressive activity. That said, if you do end up busting a move a little too hard, make sure you repair any pull or hole when it happens, or it will grow. You can find iron-on patches at most fabric shops that adhere to the underside, or take them to the local dry cleaner or tailor for a mend.

4) Into the Fold

Remember the classic scene in “The Sound of Music” when Maria sews play clothes for the children out of old curtains so they don’t get their regular clothes dirty? These days curtain clothes are little too Etsy, but the premise is spot on if you want to save your good clothes. Before you spray, sautee or embark on any chore that might spill or splatter, change out of your jeans. And don’t just toss them on the floor, fold or hang them up. If you prefer to fold, lay jeans on a flat surface and smooth out wrinkles. Fold one leg over the other and even out the bottom hems, Fold jeans up about ⅔ way, or when cuff is at the bottom of the pocket. Then fold the rest of the way up. Stacking jeans is fine, but don’t cram too many in your drawers. If you have the closet space, hang them with an S-hook to avoid creases and those teeth marks that pant hangers can leave behind. Again, give them room to breathe, don’t overcrowd your closet or they’ll wrinkle.

5) Pare Down

We all love to be hands-free but not if that means cramming everything you own into your pockets. A George Costanza-style wallet will invariably leave a mark on your back pocket. Same goes for putting your phone in that front pocket. Not only will you leave an imprint, but you run the risk of creating a hole.

Taking care of your denim doesn’t start when (or whether) you wash them, but begins the moment you find that magical pair and decide to make them yours. Show your denim a little love and they’ll be yours always and forever.