Denim Nostalgia

Back in the murky mists of time when I was about 13 or 14, my principle aim in life was to own a pair of Levis.  There was a shop that sold Levi jeans, Sta-Prest, Ben Sherman shirts, two tone trevira suits and all that sort of stuff just up the road from where I did my Saturday job.  I worked in a sort of early Superdrug type shop which was somehow able to employ schoolkids and pay them £1 a day.  I did graduate to their ‘posher’ perfume and cosmetic shop in the Kings Road, Chelsea a couple of years later where I toiled under the management of an Austrian beauty and a Jackie Collins lookalike who tried to teach me about clothes and good cosmetics and, despite the fact that I still only earned a pittance for the day, staff discount meant I could dabble in the upmarket perfumes and skincare products other 15 year olds could only dream of.  Anyway, I digress and wallow in a pit of nostalgia and lost youth and the whole point of this story is to tell you that I found, whilst searching for vintage French décor in a flea market, a pair of Levi 501s for the princely sum of 2 euros (around £1.50 or $2.25).

Bargain Levi 501s

I have fond memories of sitting in a hot bath wearing my new Levis in order to shrink them to my size.  I don’t really know why this was necessary because, by the time I bought my first pair, Levi Strauss had already introduced pre-shrunk jeans quite a few years before.  Maybe they just hadn’t arrived in Streatham High Street.   The ones I found in the flea market aren’t vintage or anything but practically unworn and a really good bargain so they came home with me and did good service on the way by being protectively wrapped around this statue I found.

French Terracotta Statue

I was so in love with my original pair of Levis that I kept the big printed label that came attached to them as a souvenir for ages.  I should have kept the jeans too, they might be worth something now but, like many pairs at the time, I think they eventually ended up being cut down to shorts.

Have you got any fond memories of  treasured items of clothing from when you were younger?  Have you hung on to things – other than your wedding dress or your children’s baby clothes – which have sentimental value for you?

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  1. #1 by katechiconi on May 4, 2015 - 09:44

    I have a brown suede jacket which is at least 30 years old. The nap’s a bit worn, the collar has been nibbled by insects and the lining is long gone, but the jacket lives on… and on….and on. Astonishingly, I can still wear it; when new, it was fashionably baggy on me (this was the 80s, after all…) but now it’s merely the right size. I’m tempted to give it a bit of a facelift, but what the hell, so many projects, so little time. I think it may be my oldest garment, and there’s no way it’s going to the charity shop.

    • #2 by tialys on May 5, 2015 - 08:18

      I love suede when it’s gone all soft and velvety. Does it have 80s shoulder pads or was it a more relaxed type of jacket?

      • #3 by katechiconi on May 5, 2015 - 08:36

        More relaxed, rather like a boxy denim jacket in style, but made of dark chocolate suede

  2. #4 by on May 4, 2015 - 10:10

    I remember my daughter doing that bath trick with her jeans (why are all kinds of trousers singular in French? Un jean sounds weird). Hers were so tight she had to lie down to put them on, and wriggle.

    Kept for ever: a little pottery model of a bonneted lady, made for me by my son when he was about 10. The head has fallen off countless times, but she always gets re-stuck. I keep my clothes for ever too – my favourite cardigan is at least 30 years old, but it is the warmest thing I own. My Christmas outfit is even older: a skirt and top in black velvet with red leaves printed all over it.

    • #5 by tialys on May 5, 2015 - 08:16

      I love that you have a Christmas outfit. I bet it has become a family tradition and your nearest and dearest would be upset if you wore anything else.

      When I was working in Chelsea, the shop opposite us (we were in one of those big buildings divided into separate open plan shop spaces) sold jeans and, mostly, men’s shirts etc. I remember, for some reason, the thing was to put on a pair of jeans that were too tight, lie flat on the floor, have a shoelace threaded through the zip by the handsome boy that worked there, the zip was then pulled up and your body, which could no longer bend in the middle, was hauled up to a standing position. Presumably, this was because the jeans would then stretch to your shape which is the complete opposite of sitting in the bath to shrink them to your shape but I guess times had moved on by then. It all seemed to make sense at the time 🙂

  3. #6 by Jan Marriott on May 4, 2015 - 14:18

    A few years ago there was a nice blog thread about clothing memories.
    I send you this link.
    As I worked in the rag trade I am so nostalgic for those 60s little numbers I had, all better made than the c..p that is available on the high street or mall these days

    Did the jeans have a capital E on the logo?

    • #7 by tialys on May 5, 2015 - 08:09

      I love your waistcoat story Jan.
      They don’t have a capital E. They are a fairly modern version but I am pleased with them just the same as they are a good fit and only cost 2 euros!

  4. #8 by mandymunroe on May 4, 2015 - 19:32

    I remember my first pair of Levis. They were the first item of clothing I bought and at £21 were four weeks of my Saturday girl pay. They fit me like a glove without the bath trick and I felt so good in them, I lived in them! Good times!

    • #9 by tialys on May 5, 2015 - 08:08

      Also, how easy was it to be able to buy jeans then? None of this ‘skinny’, ‘super skinny’, ‘bootcut’, ‘jeggings’, ‘boyfriend’, ‘flare’, ‘low rise’, ‘high rise’, ‘straight’ business you have to negotiate now.

  5. #10 by nickirocky on May 4, 2015 - 22:31

    Inspired by the eighties adverts (so cool), I too saved my pennies for Levi 501’s and felt so cool wearing them, along with the chunky belt and Grolsch bottle tops on my Doc Martins! There are a few classics that never date and always come around again – witness the current trend for crop tops!

    • #11 by tialys on May 5, 2015 - 08:05

      I do witness crop tops and, unfortunately, that’s all I can do with them these days. The only place I can get away with them is at yoga where I sometimes wear a loose one over the top of a longer t-shirt. I never had any Doc Martens myself but all the boys I fancied did.

  6. #12 by sew2pro on May 4, 2015 - 23:38

    I love your reminiscences – you’re such a London girl!

    Levis were my uniform for years and I’d buy them second hand (men’s) from Camden market. I think they all fell apart (though they lasted longer than new levis today would). Also found in Camden market is a 60s leopard print fur coat that I’m keeping in the loft for my daughter (yeah, right, like she’ll be impressed…). It’s a bit tattered. Long before I learnt to sew and knew how pockets were constructed, I tried to patch up the pockets and the lining and made a terrible job … nowadays I’d have done it properly.

    • #13 by tialys on May 5, 2015 - 07:56

      Both my parents are Londoners – Mum is actually from Camden Town – I always lived and worked there, or within easy reach of it, until we moved here which is just a bit different. I hope your daughter will appreciate her coat when you give it to her. You never know what their taste in clothes is going to turn out like do you? I have one that wears almost exclusively black and another who is much more girly.

  7. #14 by knettycraft on May 5, 2015 - 22:51

    I was born in GDR and it was impossible to get/buy genuine jeans there… so when I was 13 in the 80th I borrowed one from a friend – an original jeans with a white stripe on the sideseams. It was in a summer camp and there was a dancing party outside… and then the music played “We will rock you” (Queen)… can you imagine?… do you remember how to “dance” to this song: with the knees on the floor, bend down, with your palms knocking on the floor twice and than as you raise clapping your hands? It was outside and the dance floor was stone…. and after this song the jeans were totally ruined (they had white knees then). I still remember the girl’s name… “Susanne” – she never forgave me. 🙂

    • #15 by tialys on May 6, 2015 - 07:28

      Oops!! Sometimes the music just takes over though doesn’t it?

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