Written by Ivan Yaskey
Tips & Advice
12th November 2019
7 Must-Follow Denim Rules for AW19
Just as the leaves are changing and falling, your denim’s going through a seasonal metamorphosis. Colours are getting darker, with deep indigo and black replacing the white and bleached styles you sported all through spring and summer. And, the material’s getting thicker and sturdier, too. Lower temperatures mark the prime opportunity for that shearling-collared trucker jacket and selvedge denim.
Yet, especially where Autumn 2019 is concerned, you can’t just stick with the basics. Show your skills – and some finesse, too.
Double Up on Denim
There are two schools of thought, which we’ll cover shortly, but the general rule is, you don’t have to restrict denim to one piece. The Canadian tuxedo is so early ‘00s (and frankly kind of classist), but there’s an art to matching your denims this time of year.
From a traditional angle, double denim is best done with multiple washes: Light, dark, black, or white. Aim for simple and clean – no rips, fading, or distressing – and pay close attention to fits. On an everyday level, this could be as simple as matching a chambray shirt to slim-cut black jeans. For a night out, mix dark and light washes between your jeans and trucker jacket.
On the other hand, matchy-matchy denim isn’t as much of a faux-pas as it used to be. In fact, browse BoohooMAN, ASOS, River Island, and other High Street brands, and the jeans and jackets look intentionally coordinated across colours and patterns. In this case, make sure the wash, print, or distressing used spreads over both garments for continuity, and keep both pieces on the slim-to-classic side. As well, break it up in some form: A fitted white tee is good enough, as is a neutral-coloured button-front.
But not to the point you’re wearing pipe jeans. Rather, ‘90s denim cuts have crept up on us over the past year, and they’re looking more like a transformation than a novelty factor. You know what we’re talking about: the dad jean, with the higher waist and tapered cut; stonewashed, rather than distressed; and straight and wide without bunching up around the ankles.
At this point, your jeans shouldn’t be too much of one thing. Go with an exaggerated waist, and suddenly, the cut seems too ironic. Go too faded, and then, they seem like the jeans from 1995 that your father still won’t throw away. And, go too wide and too long, and you appear as if you’re attempting to relive your youth at the half-pipe.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Ankle
What’s not a ‘90s-referencing denim trend? That sliver of ankle showing right between your shoes and hem. Back then, this would’ve firmly been in geek territory – and not the cool kind, either. Yet, those “highwater” jokes can stay in the past.
Likely a fusion of two trends, the ankle jean is an extension of all those cropped trousers we were seeing two or so years ago. The difference here is, the fit’s not truly cropped – really, it just skims right above your ankle – and you’ll find it more with wider, boxier legs, rather than slim or tapered cuts. It’s not a look for the workplace – unless, say, you work in-house for a streetwear brand – but it frees up your weekend in a more literal sense.
Just Rip It (A Bit)
On the subject of denim trends that are fading out or evolving, the distressed-to-death styles have met their twilight. Partially due to the colder weather and partially in response to the growing minimal menswear movement, not every pair has a mix of whiskering, fading, embroidery, and rips over the full front length. It’s all a bit extra – and fairly impractical – and we’re noticing a more subdued approach, without snuffing it fully out.
This season, be strategic with your rips. Avoid instances where they’re matched with fading, acid wash, or splatter, because the distressing then simply seems overdone. Instead, seek out a solid-colour material – preferably black or a darker wash – and just a few clean slashes – perhaps across the knees or just a little higher. Yes, it should seem thought out and a bit intentional, and not as if your jeans have surpassed the threadbare breaking point.
By this, we’re not encouraging you to go full-on cowboy. Heck, you don’t even need to drive out to the country. But, designers have been taking cues from classic westernwear since 2016, and now, aspects like stylised yokes, pearl-snap buttons, and bootcuts (don’t call them that, though) are creeping into our autumn denim repertoire.
Instead, you can take one of two angles. One, look for the details mentioned above, but be selective about application. If for instance, your denim button-front has a stylised yoke or a bit of embroidery, don’t match it to a pair of Cuban-heeled boots. Stick to your usual style; otherwise, the reference becomes too heavy-handed.
Secondly, westernwear from a strictly American perspective involves classic denim. That is, no stretch construction, no studs or heavy embroidery, and no ultra-skinny or super-wide fits. Here, go traditional: tapered cuts with light fading, 100% cotton, and a more substantial feel meant to last through years of washes. If it’s good enough for the ranch, it’s definitely got the city nailed down.
Give Your Denim Some Speed
The moto jean hasn’t run out of gas yet. Yet, the textured, zippered, and often patched variety based on what you’d see a Motocross racer wear doesn’t entirely have summer appeal.
That being said, the style Balmain brought into the fold four-sum years ago frequently takes an embellish-heavy route. The truth is, you can go long and hard – see all the ripped, paint-splattered, and zipped options out there – or you can be direct, with a solid shade, slim fit, and minimal zips. The choice is up to you, but when it comes to distances, we more than prefer the latter’s mileage.