Posted On: Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at 3:54 pm
Ok- we all know that American frontiersman and pioneers wore Levi Strauss’ indigo dyed blue denim jeans with rivets during the Gold Rush in the 1840s. We also know that jeans became more leisure-wear than industrial fatigues or farm-wear when they got rid of the troublesome centre rivet, during the second world war. We also know that they became fashionable when the Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean wore them in films. But when did women start wearing jeans to be trendy?
Let’s explode a myth that you sometimes see on less-informed websites. Calamity Jane, she of the infamous Deadwood Stage song, a) did not wear jeans, she wore Buckskin trousers, and b) did not exist. So a dead-end there.
Pants (or trousers) for women started in the 1930-1940s. Dress trousers and slacks were popularized by Katherine Hepburn who shocked people by wearing wide legged pants, and by Marlene Dietrich who wore men’s tuxedos and suits tailored to fit her. It caused a scandal and they were ejected from many a posh establishment for not showing their legs. Bizarre!
Womens jeans started in the 1950′s, but solely for recreation like camping, hiking, etc. There was a move towards girls wearing men’s jeans to be part of the Rock n Roll crowd, inspired by the likes of Little Richard, Bill Haley (who never wore jeans!) and in England, Tommy Steele.
It wasn’t until the late 60s to early 70s that jeans became acceptable for women to wear in public or school. Jeans started being worn by women in the 50s. Teens first. Then by the 60s, everyone was wearing jeans. All over the world. Levi’s were the jean of choice, and still made of pretty heavy denim. Women (and some blokes) didn’t like buying jeans two sizes too large and then sitting in a warm bath for two hours, to get them to shrink fit. It was not only hit and miss, but when the girls did wear a skirt in the nexy few days, it showed off their blue legs, where the dyew had stained them. Sexy, yeah?
Yves St Laurent was the first designer to show trousers and then jeans for women in his collections. Before him, they didn’t fit well. Afterwards, they were a sensation and everyone wanted to make them. Thereafter all the fashion houses started making jeans for women.
Many Jean manufacturers now say that women buy more jeans than men! It didn’t start out that way! The styles and colours available are huge compared to what was available in the 1960s. And it looks as though there is going to be no let up in site. Jeans for women are here to stay!