27.02.2017

The Superbalist Denim Guide

Crop it, flare it, or shred it + put your own spin on new-season denim

Words: Rosie Goddard | Photographs: Katinka Bester  | Styling: Kelly Fung

Does any fabric in your cupboard conjure up as many emotions as denim? More often than not, there’s a denim friend, nestled between the sentimental sweaters and the night-out boots, on the all-time favourites list.

When jeans fit well, nothing makes you feel quite as invincible, and when they don’t fit… let’s just say denim’s the only fabric that has reduced me to tears in multiple changing rooms.

Since it became an ubiquitous part of popular culture, this often understated but never under-rated staple hasn’t had an obsolete moment – we still speak about Calvin Klein’s controversial moments, Britney and are now obsessing over Vetements and ‘couture’ denim. Enduring by nature, it’s continued to evolve with trends, taking on distinct characteristics from the subcultures that adopt it as their uniform – take the ripped skinnies worn by punk rockers, or the baggier styles paired with Timberlands, and made iconic by 90s hip-hop stars.

Call it The Vetements Effect or just coming of age, but we’re starting to wear denim our way, beyond what the decade defines as ‘cool’ and beyond the self-doubting, skinny-jeans-are-dead narrative peddled by high fashion publications. Crop it, flare it, roll it shred it, or waist it – there’s no ‘right’ way to wear denim, and there’s certainly no style that takes precedent over another, whether you’re about that love-forever investment pair, or wear-for-now favourites.

We spoke to eight distinct personalities who helped to pick out and style the jeans that they feel comfortable in and would wear in real life. Here’s what they had to say about their favourite denim pieces and how the fabric makes them feel.

Katya, 18, writer, photographer, filmmaker

The jeans: 70s flares

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

I’d tuck in a sheer shirt and throw on leather boots or sneakers.

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

High-waisted jeans, a leather jacket, adidas sneakers.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

Some vintage L.L. Bean jeans that I found at a store in Zambia when I was there with Greenpop. They’re so comfortable – my friends often joke that I don’t wear anything else.

Why will denim as a fabric never go out of style?

It’s accessible to everyone at every price point and I love that once you find a great pair, they become your best friend.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

They make me feel like I can do anything – when I’m working in them, I feel at my most creative.

Mia, 18, Biomedical Sciences student

The jeans: high-waisted 

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

I’d wear them with a tailored blazer, a silky top and a pared-back chunky heel.

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

An embroidered denim jacket, black culottes, a mesh ivory dress with bell sleeves that I got from my great aunt.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

Oversized men’s jeans I found in my grandfather’s cupboard.

Why will denim as a fabric never go out of style?

They continue to make a statement. Everything from the shape to the colour of denim says so much about who you are, because you can really make it your own.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

Like you’re ready to take on the world.

Mbali, 19, fashion design student

The denim: the jumpsuit

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

I’d wear some creepers and tie a denim shirt round the waist for effect.

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

Creepers a bomber jacket, high-waisted skinny jeans.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

Some boyfriend jeans I thrifted in town.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

It depends on what you’re wearing them with. If I’m pairing them with a crop top I’ll feel sexy, or with an oversized tee, seriously cool.

One investment pair or lots of different styles?

Lots – I like to experiment with different looks and DIY my jeans, I frill the hems, add patches and cut them into shorts when I feel like a change.

Jessie, make-up artist + model

The jeans: boyfriend jeans

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

With something else metallic, accessories or a top, a denim jacket and some boots to add a little hard, heavy edge.

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

Dr. Martens, a faux fur coat, a one-piece swimsuit – I wear them with everything.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

A pair I thrifted for next to nothing a few years ago. They have a boot cut and are all ripped up.

Why will denim as a fabric never go out of style?

No item of clothing can make you feel both cool and comfortable like a pair of jeans can.

Sandrine, 19, politics + gender student

The jeans: classic mom jeans

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

90s sneakers, oversized men’s jeans, an oversized denim jacket.

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

I’d go for something hot, sporty, sleek and casual like sneakers and a crop top.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

Men’s classic blue Levi’s. I often find it difficult to find the right type of jeans for my body, but I love an oversized 90s fit. My parents grew up in Rwanda at a time when Western influence exposed them to hip-hop culture in the US. They’ve got so many pictures of them looking incredible in double denim and 90s sneakers. Denim’s always been a big deal in my family and my parents taught me to never compromise on a pair.

Why will denim as a fabric never go out of style?

Because it’s timeless – classic styles always come full circle, like how we’re wearing jeans from the 70s, 80s and 90s now. Denim is forever.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

You should feel like the jeans were made for your body.

Sarah, 25, stylist + photographer in training

The jeans: modern flares

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

I’d pair them with these sculpted black Jil Sander shoes that I own and a black sports bra – the waist is the best part about these jeans so you’ve got to expose it.

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

Straight-legged pants, Docs, a Young & Lazy hoodie.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

A pair of dungarees my friend brought back for me from overseas. They fit so well and nothing’s ever made me feel so good. I can be myself and I’m not restricted.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

They should feel good, but they have to look good too. I used to love low-rise jeans because they were comfortable, but a high-waisted pair is so much more flattering on me. It’s about understanding your shape.

Marianne, 22, art graduate

The jeans: skinny jeans.

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

An oversized shirt to balance out the shape, and Docs.

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

XXL tees in white or black, men’s work trousers, Docs.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

Some Levi’s 511s I found as a teenager – they don’t fit but I’m keeping them for the future. They’re from the 80s and a style I haven’t really seen before.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

Jeans make me feel tough – they used to be workwear, after all.

Danielle, 26, booking agent

The jeans: cropped + flared

Describe your style by your three favourite items?

Platform shoes, a bandana (for some personality) and a hat – not enough people wear hats.

How would you wear this particular pair to make them your own?

As is – I helped style the look.

Your favourite pair of jeans?

I bought my Levi’s cut-offs six years ago, and they’ve been with me through everything, so ya, them. And they still look the same as the day I bought them.

Why will denim as a fabric never go out of style?

When it’s worn in, you can alter it and give it a new lease of life, your jeans can become your new pair of shorts.

How should a great pair of jeans make you feel?

Bold – like Bruce Springsteen on the cover of Born in the USA.


Shop Superbalist denim here.

https://superbalist.com/thewayofus/2017/02/09/film-inspired-varsity-style/8338
https://superbalist.com/thewayofus/2017/02/23/51-personal-crises/9867
https://superbalist.com/thewayofus/2017/02/22/lessons-layering/9865