I have to say, my friends, that jeans are definitely part of my fashion DNA. Jeans are in my genes, you might say. From the cut-off dungarees I wore the summer I was ten and went to work each day with my big brother on my grandfather Sullivan’s drill-rigs, to the fashion uniform I adopted in high school, once we were able to wear jeans to school that is, I have considered jeans a must-have part of my wardrobe. I cannot imagine my closet without at least three or four pairs of jeans in current rotation. And lately that number has been even higher. Especially since jean styles have moved away from skinny jean domination.

My three pairs of blue skinny jeans are currently folded and stored in a dresser drawer. I’ve worn them only a couple of times this winter when I wanted to tuck jeans into boots. Still hanging in my closet are my black, Liverpool Glider skinny jeans (a staple in my winter wardrobe), a pair of boot-cut, burgundy NYDJ, and olive green, skinny jeans from Massimo Dutti that I haven’t worn all season. And three pairs of non-skinny blue jeans.

Yesterday, I dug my three pairs of blue jeans out of my closet and had a try on session while Hubby was out of the house. So much more fun when I’m on my own.

These are my newest blue jeans, below, classic Levi’s 511s. Bought last fall from the men’s section of the Levi’s store in the Rideau Centre. I’d been on the hunt for a pair of jeans with a full-length, straight leg and a looser fit. But everything I found was either skinny, very wide leg (NOT a good look on me), or straight-leg and cropped. Then I decided to try the men’s section and found success. I love the loose fit, and the light wash of these jeans. They are the perfect length for boots and for sneakers. I noticed after I bought them, though, that the pockets are huge. I may cut them to reduce the size. They’d be easy enough to sew up again by hand. At the moment they are enormous and extend halfway down my leg. Ha.

Yesterday when I was playing around in my closet, I tried my Levi’s 511s with a blue cotton, oversized shirt (similar), my black crew-neck cashmere sweater (similar), and my old Max Mara double-breasted blazer. The sweater is very light and the blouse quite loose, so next time I will try a trick I learned on YouTube. Apparently a tight, stretchy camisole worn over the shirt and under the sweater will smooth out the folds of the shirt and keep them from ruining the line of the sweater. Great idea, I thought.

I’m also still enamoured of these cropped, straight-leg, slightly distressed jeans from Frame, below. I bought them just as the world descended into lock-down in 2020. I wear them with loafers, or sandals. But I also like them with these Stuart Weitzman ankle boots. The boots are high enough and tight enough on the ankle so the jeans slip over the boots easily with no gap between pantleg and boot. I hate it when a slice of my leg shows or when my pantleg gets caught on the top of my boot.

I love these jeans in the summer with sandals, a tank, and my white blazer. In the fall with loafers, a light cashmere sweater, and a blazer. Or in winter with this Vince chunky, cable-knit sweater and my black, down coat from Aritzia. With my short upper body, narrow hips, and long skinny legs, I need the longer knee-length coat to balance off the chunky sweater (and my chunky upper half) and avoid looking top heavy. Dressing is a balancing act for all of us, right?

Vince chunky mock-neck sweater in heather grey, Frame high-rise cropped, straight-leg jeans, Stuart Weitzman boots.
Frame straight-leg jeans, Vince sweater, Stuart Weitzman boots

While I was playing around with clothes yesterday, I tried on this tweed cap just for fun. Not sure I’d wear it out in the world. Hubby and I bought this in Scotland for my stepfather back in 2005. When he passed away, we brought it back home with us. I love the blue-grey tweed with my sweater and this animal print scarf. But pulling the cap down as it’s supposed to be worn looks dopey on me, and flipped up like this makes me look as if I escaped from an episode of The Little Rascals. Ha. Hats, much as I love them, are not necessarily in my fashion DNA.

I could be a member of Fagin’s gang.

The final pair of blue jeans in my closet are these beloved high-rise, boot-cut Frame jeans. I still remember that feeling of love at first sight when I tried these on in Nordstrom. And even though I was not shopping for jeans, I came home with them. “I knew you’d like them,” said Liz. She knows me so well. Ha. I love these with flat sandals and a linen safari jacket in summer. Just like I wore my jeans back in the seventies. But I like them with sneakers too. And yesterday this is what I planned to wear to run errands in the village. My Akris turtleneck, Uniqlo down vest, Stan Smith sneakers, and my new knitted hat.

Akris burgundy cashmere sweater, burgundy down vest from Uniqlo, Frame boot-cut, high-rise jeans, Stan Smith sneakers.
High-rise, boot-cut from Frame.

I bought the yarn for my hat when Hubby and I were down east in August. At Briggs and Little Woolen Mill in Harvey, New Brunswick. The same place I bought my yarn back in the eighties when I first learned to knit. You can see a better picture of the hat on my Instagram here. I’d intended to wear this outfit into town. But glancing out the door, I realized that the slush would be too much for my sneakers, so I swapped them for my black SW boots, and changed the cream jacket for my fuchsia tweed Max Mara coat. I felt pretty spiffy as I shopped for wine and dessert. Yep. I only buy the treats, my friends. Hubby shops for the staples.

Akris burgundy cashmere sweater, burgundy down vest from Uniqlo, Frame boot-cut, high-rise jeans, Stan Smith sneakers, Uniqlo down jacket.
Double puffer look.

Of course jeans aren’t the only clothing that is part of my fashion DNA. Blazers and boots are in there too. And turtlenecks. I’ve been wearing that combination since high school. In fact on my first ever real date, with my best friend’s older brother on whom I’d had a long-time crush, I wore faded jeans, a baby-blue turtleneck, and a black corduroy blazer. I was so nervous. And trying hard to be cool and casual. Which meant that I promptly spilled coke all down the front of my sweater at the movie. Sigh. Why do we try so hard to be what we’re not when we’re teenagers? Don’t answer that question. It’s rhetorical.

I’ve tried to analyze my love of jeans. It’s not hereditary. Because, although I get my passion for neatness, and my love of simple unfussy looks from my mum, she has never worn jeans in her life. All my friends who are my age wear them. And many of my older friends don’t. Could it be generational? Maybe. But my sister-in-law at age 77 lives in jeans, as does one of my older sisters. And what about that much younger generation of girls who seem to live in Yoga pants, when at their age we’d have been wearing jeans? Maybe it’s just that those who fall in love with jeans at some point in their early lives, will always love them. Except when they don’t. Ha. Clearly I am not about to form a reasonable hypothesis here, so I will give up.

You know, I started thinking of how jeans are part of my fashion DNA when I read this post on That’s Not My Age earlier in the week. Alyson talks about changing up her fashion uniform. My fashion “uniform” is, it seems, similar to Alyson’s: jeans and a jacket. I was tickled to read two comments from her readers who at ages 76 and 81 both still live in jeans and jackets.

So it seems that there are a lot of us from every decade for whom jeans are part of our fashion DNA. It’s nothing do do with age. It’s just love, people.

What’s in your fashion DNA, my friends? What pieces are, and always have been, part of your wardrobe?

P.S. All of the clothing links in this post (except for the Uniqlo one) are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on my link, I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog. Most of my clothes are from previous seasons and some are really old. So many pieces are no longer available. Sometimes, but not all the time, if I can find a similar item, of similar quality, I will link to it, as I did a couple of times in this post. 🙂

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38 thoughts on “What’s In Your Fashion DNA?”

  1. You have a lovely jeans collection indeed!
    My go-to places to buy jeans (almost always,now there is maybe a bit better choice in women department than before) ,oversize sweaters and blazers are men departments (yes, height,long legs etc)
    I wear and love jeans and wear it,but if I had to choose one (two,exactly) staple that decribes me, that would be turtlecks (from before Nora Ephron :),when my neck was very young and beautiful ) . I can’t remember,from 15 years old me (maybe even longer) that I didn’t have at least one (usually more) turtle neck-from tight to oversize,from silk,viscose/tencel to cotton,wool or cashmere. And scarfs……..
    Dottoressa

    1. Oh, turtlenecks. I’m with you on that one, Dottoressa. Skinny, thick, bulky, light-weight, short, long, chunky whatever… I love my turtlenecks. My burgundy Akris one is now my current favourite.

  2. I really like the cut of your light Levi’s & they are such a good way to soften a tailored top half . I was admiring the intricate design of your hat on Instagram & the lovely shades in the wool . As a child I was forever drawing ball gowns & those weird mermaid like fishtail dresses – well it was the 50s , but then jeans took over . From cropped with flat pumps to flares with platforms. I even lost my appendix through wearing my jeans too tight . That was my mum’s theory anyway . And yes I still reach for them first , just not so tight now . Other than jeans I’d say well cut jackets & open neck shirt blouses . A biggie for me has always been quality fabric whatever the garment . Not always easy to find these days .
    PS Loved the book Dottoressa

    1. I like that about faded jeans too. For so many years my jeans were too prissy and neat. I’d even press a crease down the front. I don’t do that anymore. Ha. I may look for another loose pair in the spring. P.S. I had my appendix out when I was nineteen… must have been those tight jeans!

  3. Jeans are also in my genes. Could never be without a pair. My love affair with them started back in 1977, age 11, with a pair of Gap Skinnies (we called them Stovies) with a cognac leather detail on the back-side. I love your Frame Cropped Straights. I have a pair that look very similar on me (we have similar bodies btw) but mine are Esprit bought 2nd hand and chopped by me. They are my favourite Spring/Summer pair.

    1. We didn’t have Gap back in the seventies, at least not in New Brunswick. I remember the first time I shopped there in the eighties after I moved to Ottawa. Gap used to be my go-to for basic tees. Then they changed the cut and quality of their tee shirts and I stopped shopping there.

  4. Oh and I loved in Levies Unisex 501’s in the 90’s. I believe I have mentioned before that I have found some great male jeans and cords in the thrift shop that fit just like yours. I have got used to the big pockets, they are a unique feature. 🙂

  5. Ah yes, the jeans issue has been an ongoing thing for me. I had the perfect pair in my teens that were a stretch boot cut from a tack shop, and I think to this day that they were the best I have ever had. After a day of searching for a perfect pair lately, I have left feeling so frustrated that I came home with zero results. I have actually got a couple pairs of boot cut from Reitmans that are almost perfect. I have a rather straight waist, but hips and no bum which is hard to fit and even harder if they are not high waisted. I do have a variety of coloured jeans as well from various brands as I find them and am going for the straight leg more lately. The skinnies, as you mentioned, are being put away for now and a few donated since they just feel a bit off now unless I want to wear tall boots to get through the snow. My go to look with jeans seems to be a soft sweater in a nice scoop neck or V neck and accessorised with a scarf and jewellery. I have always felt claustrophobic in a slim turtleneck, and only wear cowl necks for that look. I must say, you do look stunning in the close up with the leopard scarf and grey sweater. Lovely blend with the hair.

  6. I enjoyed your article but we are all different. I don’t own a pair of jeans or pants for that matter!! I do wear jean skirts mostly in the Fall and Winter seasons!! Your article on purses was fabulous!!

  7. I remember back to school shopping in the 1970’s at Chippins in downtown Fredericton. They had a giant pair of jean overalls (size XXXL) hanging from the rafters as decoration. I also remember saving all my babysitting money in high school to shop at the new “designer” jean store on Beaverbrook Court. The jeans had a pin stripe woven into the denim and then a contrasting coloured cord detail that ran down the leg on the outside seam, I think the brand name was either Pimento or Silver. My friend and I each bought a pair to start grade 10 at Harvey High School in 1983, we thought we had the world by the tail 🤣

    1. Gad, I remember shopping for jeans at Chippins. And we were all afraid of Mrs. Chippin who sat behind the counter all the time. And still gave us a deal on our jeans.

  8. Purses (they are my budget kryptonite); sandals; boots, and t shirts. Although I love hats and fashion scarves on others, they look just plain weird on me. (I can pull off warm winter scarves, however. Maybe that is because they are mostly hidden beneath my coats. ; ) )
    I enjoy your blog, Sue.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I prefer winter scarves as well. I like a scarf to look as if I’m wearing it for warmth. I do wear them at other times, but I don’t like a gimmick-y scarf arrangement. Although I have come around to wearing a sweater as a scarf.

  9. I love all your jeans and the way you’ve styled them. I also live in jeans. A few years ago, I discovered Lands’ End mid rise straight leg jeans and I now have 6 pairs in the dark rinse. Three are full length, and I have to roll them because they are a little bit too long. I took the other 3 pairs to the tailor and had them shortened to a perfect length to wear with my boots and sneakers. Bliss. They are all broken in and slightly faded. They are perfect. The only other bottoms I ever wear are from Eileen Fisher.
    Unfortunately I’ve had no luck with the LE jeans in other colors. They simply don’t fit. I’m hunting for a mid wash, and for white and black. Maybe someday…
    Your blog is great and I really enjoy it, especially the fashion posts.

    1. Nothing better than a pair of jeans you love… that are the perfect length. I always had trouble with leg length growing up… so I appear to have developed a sensitivity to leg length. Ha.

  10. Jeans are definitely in my fashion DNA! I’m a jeans girl through and through even though I’m quite sure that neither of my parents ever owned a pair. With my boyish figure, I have no idea why it never occurred to me to try a men’s pair though! That’s pure genius! I have such a hard time finding women’s jeans that fit me well as they tend to be made for gals with hips which I do not have.

    I wish that I could still wear turtlenecks, but having had two major neck surgeries now, I no longer find them comfortable. 🙁

  11. Margaretanne Clinton

    Sue.
    You look fabulous in the cranberry colour. And great outfits too !
    I wear double down vest and down jacket all the time. Uniform for me.
    This post was great fun.

  12. Jeans are in my DNA. I can remember wearing them with white Keds as a kid (we called them dungarees and they were Wranglers, I believe). I loved them. I remember wearing wide bell bottoms that touched the ground when I was in high school. I’m the same age as you are and I remember when I was finally allowed to wear pants to school, but I don’t think that jeans were allowed at first.
    I live in jeans. Lately, I’ve gone back to Levi’s boot cut. I like my NYDJ and some cheap straight leg ones that I have found at TJMAX.
    I tend to wear jeans with a long sleeve T shirt, but I love jeans with a button down shirt and/or a blazer. It’s a nice look. I don’t wear it that often, but I may get back to it. You are reminding me of how good a blazer looks with jeans.
    Love your hat. It’s a great color and goes so well with the vest and sweater.

  13. I hate jeans that are too short…must be the long legs thing and who wants cold ankles. I also dislike the rips and holes thing. I like skinny jeans when I need to tuck them into tall boots. I have never given up my straight leg jeans or my boot-cut jeans….I will stock up now that fashion has come back to these 🙂
    Love your jeans “looks”

    1. Arrg, I hate cold ankles too. Although when it’s not cold out I do love an ankle jean with loafers or sneakers or flat sandals. But they have to hit at just the right spot to NOT look like pedal pushers on me.

  14. I love all these looks, Sue, and isn’t it so much more fun to do when you have the house to yourself?!?
    For a long time, my winter uniform was skinny jeans or leggings, tall or ankle boots and a long cardigan or tunic – which mean I needed at least a car-length coat. I’m coming out of a print-pants & sweater phase, and last year bought 2 pairs of Madewell jeans that are the two I’d wear “out of the house” – high rise are a requirement (due to muffin-top), and I like one pair in light wash, one in dark. I also love my wool blazers in winter, and am wearing a RED one today for Valentine’s Day (that must be 30 years old, from Lands End).

  15. I (age 75) grew up wearing jeans, but only on weekends, on vacation and after school (where they were not allowed – even when I was in college). Until the mid-60’s they were not considered appropriate for anything but the most casual activities. It took me a long time to get used to seeing women in jeans in nice restaurants or at the theater (although nowadays that woman might be me.)

    1. By the time I was in university, we wore jeans with everything. Dressing up on the top, but still in jeans. I remember wearing cream strappy spike-heel sandals with my jeans and a white jacket back in my disco days. Ha.

  16. T-shirts ( usually crewneck ) and shorts with thongs ( flip flops ) in the summer and sweaters, jeans and boots in the winter.

    …and I’ve stuck with polonecks ( turtlenecks ), usually layered under a crewneck or V-neck sweater for 40+ years 😀

    1. The Australian use of the word thongs for flip flops caused a friend of mine a little concern at airport security one year. And it sure made a great story afterwards.

  17. Concerning your late step father’s hat. Try turning it around with the bill facing downward. I have one too and prefer wearing it backwards/upside down.

  18. I love the part about when you could finally wear jeans to school–I believe that was around 1970 for me. The jeans outfit I remember best at the time was a “dirty gray” T-shirt, woven and fringed fabric belt, and hip-hugger jeans. As much as I loved fashion, my mother, who passed away at age 93 last summer, wore blue jeans as far back as I can remember. At the time, it was somewhat embarrassing as the other mothers I knew wore slacks and dresses.
    NYDJ are my go-to. Almost every outfit you post is one I could easily wear, so I take inspiration from you. Thanks for your blog.

    1. Ah, thanks for saying that, Heidi. I remember hip huggers too. Although I had no hips to speak of and I always had to try to stretch the legs to make them long enough.

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