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Jeans

The Captain

One of the Regulars
"I Remember The REAL Levis!

Early '50s at the stable.
original.jpg

Mid '50s in the "hood".
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Late '50s
medium.jpg
 

IndigoFanatic

New in Town
Messages
48
Location
DC Metro area
Those are some really nice looking pics. I like the late 50's picture in particular, so perhaps my notion of likeing the LVC 1955 is pretty acurate... I've been thinking of either those or perhaps the 1927 if I want another Levi's after this year.
 

Tony in Tarzana

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,276
Location
Baldwin Park California USA
I remember the General Store in Alderpoint California had a whole back room full of nothing but Levis back in the late 1960s.

They were all stiff as plywood, and I didn't want to wear 'em.

I didn't realize they actually "broke in" until years later. lol
 

just_me

Practically Family
Messages
723
Location
Florida
The way jeans used to be in my neighborhood (Brooklyn) was dungarees. lol We never called them jeans. Anybody else call them dungarees in the 50s and 60s?

I wonder when they switched to being jeans. I don't think anyone calls them dungarees anymore.
 

IndigoFanatic

New in Town
Messages
48
Location
DC Metro area
Not that it's always the most reliable of sources, but here's something from Wikipedia on the term "dungarees"...

Etymology of "dungaree"
The term "dungaree" was associated with a coarse undyed calico fabric that was produced and sold in a region near Dongari Killa (also called Fort George) in Bombay (now Mumbai) in India. The cloth was cheap and often poorly woven. As such, it was used by the poorer classes for clothing and by various navies as a sail cloth. Sailors often re-used old sails to make clothes. In time, the name of the cloth came to also mean an item of clothing made out of it.

In British English such a bib type overalls are usually called a pair of dungarees.

In the U.S., carpenter jeans are often referred to as dungarees.
 

Max Flash

One of the Regulars
Messages
181
Location
London, UK (and elsewhere...)
Yes, I had always understood dungarees to be the type that came up like trousers but then had a bib portion up to your chest, with shoulder straps to hold the bib in place. This is usually workwear.

Coming from England, I think this is how most English people would understand dungarees. However, when reading this month's US edition of GQ, there was a picture of someone in jeans and a leather jacket, and the caption advised to wear the leather jacket with "dungarees" (despite the jeans in the picture clearly not being dungarees in the English sense of the word). Clearly they meant the Americanised word for denim generally, and were presumably advising one to wear coarser-looking denim for that 'tough, street-fighting man' look!
 

dschonn

Familiar Face
Messages
76
Location
Nashville
Ah, here we find some interesting differences between American and English vocabulary. What you describe, Max Flash, is a garment that in America is known as "bib overalls" or simply "overalls". I've heard that the term "overalls" in Britain refers to a garment that is basically work trousers and work jacket all in one garment, which goes over all one's other clothing. We in the states call that thing "coveralls".

I love finding out about these things, like vests, pants, chips, braces and the hood of a car (to name but a few), that refer to different objects in the two countries.
 

Esme

One of the Regulars
Messages
169
Location
Eugene, Oregon
Okay, here is the Oregon girl with Okie and Arkie parents, born in the mid-50's take on vocab.
Jeans are Levi brand, nothing else. Anything else denim pants are dungarees (Some might argue about Wranglers and Lee Jeans, but that way lies madness! It is like coke or pepsi or ford or chevy), only Levis are jeans.
Coveralls are a whole denim or cotton suit, long sleeves or short sleeves, but a top like a shirt, step in - Coveralls. Overalls are bib overalls. Just saying ---


Yes, I know it's all terminology and it is different from place to place and time to time. I am saying what we said and called things when I was a teenager.
 

Warbaby

One Too Many
Messages
1,549
Location
The Wilds of Vancouver Island
I don't think we ever called them jeans back in the 50s - they were just Levis. And of course, they could only be Levi brand. I remember seeing Wranglers and Lees now and then, but only on cowboy kids. I still won't wear any brand but Levi's.
 

stephen1965

One of the Regulars
Messages
176
Location
London
Cowboy kids like Lees..

That's really interesting... so Lee and Wrangler were worn by 'cowboy kids'. I'd really be interested, if you had the time, to know roughly what parts of the U.S or which states would be wearing Lee or Wrangler denim.

In the UK, I remember there was an influx of second hand '50's Levis to a few shops in London (probably elsewhere too). There used to be great shop in Covent Garden (in London) called Flip with all these jeans and other 40's -50's wear in a big warehouse space. The jeans I see these days, even the Levis don't compare in quality somehow. It's still possible to buy good quality Levis and Lee jeans here but they're all mad in Japan. And they're relatively expensive. But they're a lot better IMO if you're going for that vintage look.

Oh, and we always called them 'jeans' whatever the brand but then we were always looking for the imported US brands which were mostly Levis anyway. If only I had kept hold of all my old clothes from Flip...(Do any of the Londoners remember this shop)?
 

Salv

One Too Many
Messages
1,247
Location
Just outside London
stephen1965 said:
That's really interesting... so Lee and Wrangler were worn by 'cowboy kids'. I'd really be interested, if you had the time, to know roughly what parts of the U.S or which states would be wearing Lee or Wrangler denim.

In the UK, I remember there was an influx of second hand '50's Levis to a few shops in London (probably elsewhere too). There used to be great shop in Covent Garden (in London) called Flip with all these jeans and other 40's -50's wear in a big warehouse space. The jeans I see these days, even the Levis don't compare in quality somehow. It's still possible to buy good quality Levis and Lee jeans here but they're all mad in Japan. And they're relatively expensive. But they're a lot better IMO if you're going for that vintage look.

Oh, and we always called them 'jeans' whatever the brand but then we were always looking for the imported US brands which were mostly Levis anyway. If only I had kept hold of all my old clothes from Flip...(Do any of the Londoners remember this shop)?

Oh yes, I spent lots of time, and not much money, in Flip. They started out in Kings Road - there's a clothes shop called Phlip on the site now - and there was a clearance warehouse in Shoreditch. I'm pretty sure that the Kings Road branch managed to get hold of some of the last of the original big E 501s back in the late 70s.

The Covent Garden branch had everything, and it was all so cheap! I went in a few times looking for specific items - a beige two-button single-breasted suit, a navy double breasted suit, a dark blue windbreaker, brown wool pleated trousers - and always got exactly what I wanted. The beige suit was £20, the windbreaker about £5 (and I've still got the suit and the windbreaker), the trousers about £10. I bought two atomic fleck tweed overcoats for £20 each, and threw them away during a house move (I'm still angry with myself about that.) I must have bought half a dozen atomic fleck tweed jackets over the course of a few years, all gone now, and they never turn up anymore at an affordable price.

But as you must have found, second hand clothes were so cheap that they were disposable. There was no need to keep them, because you could always buy more...
 

vitanola

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,249
Location
Gopher Prairie, MI
In the Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs of the 1920's, the trousers that we now refer to as "jeans" were listed as "Waist Overalls", right next to the "Bib Overalls".
 

carouselvic

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,557
Location
Kansas
I have worn a lot of 501's. The originals had to be bought over sized, 1" in the waist, 2" in the inseam. After a couple hot washings the fit was close and they wouldn't turn you blue. I believe it was the early 70's they started offering them pre-rinsed. In high school I bought all my clothes from a western wear store. Levis, Lee and Wrangler were the bill of fare.
 

Doug C

Practically Family
Messages
729
Hey Indigofanatic - I buy nothing but LVC, but if I were to get a pair of those STF/501s I'd add copper rivets to the back pockets and crotch like the old jeans used to have.. I mean what-the-heck, the jeans are cheap and that would make them so much more cooler. Besides it'd make yours unique within the contest, personalize 'em. Tandy has some really nice ones and they're easy to install with the correct punch... just a thought. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/...tionpath=3&processor=content&p_keyword=copper

Doug C
 

Daoud

One of the Regulars
Messages
293
Location
Asheville, NC
I'm an Oklahoma native, and from what I've seen real cowboys wear Wranglers, and nothing but. As I understand it this has to do entirely with the tailoring- the hems on the inside of the leg are made in such a way as not to cause rubbing or chafing while the wearer is on horseback. Or maybe they don't HAVE hems on the inside of the leg. Also, the legs of Wranglers are flared, and slightly longer in the back than in the front- "boot-cut" as it's called. I am referring here to the original Wranglers- I'm sure there are many different kinds now.
Levi's, on the other hand, were made originally for rugged work use, and aren't cut for riding. And if you've ever tried to get the legs of a pair of old-school 501s over the tops of cowboy boots, you'll see another reason cowboys don't wear them.
As for Lee, I don't know.....they weren't really on the radar, I guess.

I went to a high school where there weren't very many cowboys, and THE only pants for guys to wear were 501s- the old shrink-to-fit kind. There was no special trick to breaking them in- just constant washing and wearing. Girls wore 501s as well. Since you had to get them way too big so they'd shrink down right, the girls would ALWAYS tear off the portion of the tag that had the size on it so the others wouldn't tease them about their apparently giant waist size.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,039
Location
London, UK
The Captain said:
Early '50s at the stable.
original.jpg
I can't quite see what you're sitting on here..... looks like the car? A giant? (I love perspective tricks in photos! :) ) .

Flip was obviously part of the London scene long before I moved here. I do remember a second hand clothes shop of that name in Dublin, back in the mid-late 90s. Coincidence, or otherwise? By then, of course, most of what was considered run of the mill "vintage" was 70s and 80s stuff. (As if the 80s fashions weren't bad enough first time around... lol ).

Another place I remember (now gone to make way for the new Victoria Centre development, which is enormous in scale) was Alcatraz in Belfast. A regular draw for me from the age of 12... still was at the age of 15 when I was finally big enough to fit into military surplus. (The parent shop, McCann's Camping Supplies, still exists in the Smithfield Market site - Alcatraz was run by the son). I remember back about the Summer of 89 or 90, when the big thing to have was a pair of 501s (not for me, as I was already defiantly anti-fashion by then!). Alcatraz had managed to find a supplier and had a whole rail of "genuine USA 501s." While they were GBP50 (at 89/90 prices!!) in shops new, Levis being considered 'designer' back then, they were only £35 a pair in Alacatraz. Course, they were pretty tatty and often had a hole in the knee - they were ex-prison uniform, sold on as the US correctional facilities had decided they were much too tatty to still be worn by inmates. Nevertheless, they still sold like the proverbial hot cakes.

For my own jeans these days, I've discovered the Prison Blues line. They're not selvedge, but if you like the 50s cut and are after a durable pair of jeans, they do the job very nicely. I do very much like the look of the vintage repros, but the price, quite frankly, puts me off.... pushing GBP100 just feels too much for a pair of jeans - at that price, they'd become "occasional wear," which I don't tend to do denim for.
 

carouselvic

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,557
Location
Kansas
Levis did make a western jean. I believe it was the 517. Between the 501's and the 517's I wore a lot of flare, bell and elephant bells(not proper levis names). The Wrangler 13MWZ were a western jean sanctioned by the pro rodeo assoc.
 

Highlander

A-List Customer
Messages
473
Location
Missouri
Well, I've worn 501's since about 1975. Before that I wore levis with bells and flares.

I ride horses some and the 501's work for that, I don't much care for Wranglers. But for the cowboy look they really need to "stack" on your boots. So I order them even 2" longer than I normally would.
 

scotrace

Head Bartender
Staff member
Messages
14,329
Location
Small Town Ohio, USA
I'm wearing the same pair of 501's I bought in the early 1980's. Just got a second pair last year.
I found some similar pairs last night. Am I looking for a label that specifically says "shrink to fit?"
 

IndigoFanatic

New in Town
Messages
48
Location
DC Metro area
Yes, it should say "shrink-to-fit" on the back pocket flasher (the cardboard tag i the back pocket). Here's what mine looked like with all of the original tags on them:
tagsaa0.jpg


Also, the material will feel very stiff and rough when they're on the shelf, while all of the other jeans will be somewhat soft. Another good thing to look for is the cardboard patch on the back. Since it's cardboard, it becomes very obvious when it's a raw pair vs. a pre-washed pair (the washed pair's tags are a bit crumpled and generally have some blue on them from the wash).

I included the sticker on the leg with the size because that's another little thing that was changed with the new cut, and may be easily picked out if a store has both the new and older versions.
 
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