Scott Morrison led teams of designers at Earnest Sewn, Paper Denim & Cloth and Evisu before starting 3x1 Denim three years ago. The man knows a lot about jeans. In that time, he's amassed a collection of over 300 pairs, and his Mercer Street boutique in New York helps people create jeans that are as close to perfect as they can be. And for Morrison, that process starts with the fabric.
"There's a better quality of denim out there," he told us recently. "Better quality is basically done on a selvedge shuttleloom, and so, selvedge denim—which you can kind of identify by the 'self edge' kind of marks and the narrow width of the fabric—was really the main way that denim was made from the 1850's up to the 1950s."
Morrison shared his deep wisdom about how often denim should be washed, the way your jeans should fit, and how to wear them in the summertime.
1. There's never one type of perfect denim, that's the first rule I've learned here. We've gotten over 400 types since we've started.
2. For summer what you want to do is focus on lighter weights. Typically you're going to find things in that 11 to 13 oz. weight range. That's what most denim is going to be. [In hot weather] what you really want to do is focus on something in the 9 to 11 oz range. It's going to be really comfortable; cotton breathes, obviously, and denim is really breathable.
3. Denim, like everything else in style, should be personal preference. You should never buy something if you're not going to feel comfortable wearing it. But I do think white is fantastically appropriate right now.
4. Most guys have a tendency to buy the wrong size; they buy it comfortable. It doesn't matter what type of denim you're buying, doesn't matter what brand you're buying, denim (after about a half a day or a full day of wear) is going to stretch out half a size. What you want to do is find something that's what we call "comfortably tight." Not so tight that you can't get the button closed, not so tight that it feels like you're cutting off blood circulation, but tight enough that you know when it grows half a size that it's not going to fall off or look inappropriate.
5. Most guys come in saying, "I see guys with skinny jeans," or "I see guys with a tapered jean," and it may not flatter their silhouette very well. So you have to be very cognizant of the fact that not everything fits well on everyone. What you really need to do is work with a smart sales associate, or take the time to try on several different fits and see which one is flattering for you.
6. The idea behind a raw jean is that the stiffness or the starch inside is going to chip away over time. When it starts going through that process it's molding to your body. If you have a raw jean, the best advice is to go as long as you possibly can without washing for the first time, and in a perfect world that should be four to six months of everyday wear. If you want the best fitting jean possible, that's the best way to do it.
7. I hang my jeans. If you open my closet doors, you see lots of them. I've always found hanging my jeans to be better than folding, as I don't want to accidentally see creases in my jeans. Similarly, I think hanging by two belt-loops keeps your jeans in their naturally straightened position and allows them to breathe.
8. When it gets to the point where the smell is an issue, you really need to evaluate the sanitariness of it: Can you take it outside and just air it out on your patio? The big thing is, if a little Febreeze or a little time outside doesn't do the job, then you probably need to address it.
9. If you get a stain on them—I've sat on paint before—turn them inside out, lay them in cold water, put a little denim solution or Woolite dark in there, and don't agitate it. Just leave it there for 45 minutes to an hour. Then just pull them up, spray them off and let them air dry. That's if you're washing a raw denim. The only time you want to scrub it or agitate it by hand is when you have a deep soiled stain.
10. The thing about people with style is that they know what they look best in. That's the key: whether a guy wears button-downs, sweaters, and ties, or whether a guy wears T-shirts and jeans, it's personal style, you have to own it, and if you can do that you're in good shape.
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