National Blue Jeans Day is on December 5. Jeans are one of the cornerstones of Western fashion. Every American is estimated to own seven pairs of jeans. Since its introduction in the 1800s, denim has proved to be one of the most versatile, durable, and iconic clothing items. They’re worn by people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Jeans have undergone dozens of changes over the years — from long and baggy to short and tight, dark to light, colorful to faded. Few clothes have such a variety of aesthetic options than denim jeans.
History of National Blue Jeans Day
On May 20, 1873, tailor Jacob Davis and businessman Levi Strauss obtained a patent from the U.S. government. This patent allowed them to place metal rivets in men’s work pants for the first time. On this day, blue jeans as we know them were born. To be clear, Davis and Strauss did not invent blue jeans, but they were the first to produce this clothing item commercially in the U.S. They were known as waist overalls, catching on fast among American laborers. From ranch hands to railroad workers, factory employees to farmers, waist overalls were like a uniform for the working-class American. Workers loved them because their dark indigo color hid stains from oil and dirt. They also appreciated their durability because a pair of denim overalls could withstand the rigors of manual labor.
Jeans slowly went mainstream in the 1930s. Thanks to Western films with cowboys in jeans, ordinary Americans began to embrace this blue-collar outfit as part of their everyday fashion. In the 1950s, at the height of America’s conservative era, denim jeans were seen as non-conformist, synonymous with actors like James Dean from “Rebel Without A Cause.” American youths jumped on the bandwagon; however, it was primarily men who wore jeans. Actress Brigitte Bardot was one of the first women to wear jeans in 1957.
By the 1980s and 1990s, jeans were considered unisex. Variations in style, patterns, colors, and sizes were numerous. Waist overalls made a brief comeback, albeit as a fashion statement and not for practicality. Today, almost all types of jeans coexist, a rare thing for clothing and a testament to the versatility of denim.
National Blue Jeans Day timeline
Strauss, the founder of Levi’s jeans, receives patent #139,121 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The iconic but straightforward blue jeans and white shirt combination goes mainstream, popularized by stars like Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Brigitte Bardot.
Baby Boomers adopt the term ‘jeans,’ changing the name of this clothing item formerly known as ‘waist overalls.’
Jeans shift to a more flared bottom look; once again, celebrities like Cher, Jimi Hendrix, and Mick Jagger play a significant role in making this style famous.
The 90s are characterized by baggy jeans, largely thanks to the influence of hip-hop artists who wear oversized clothes.
Jeans take on a slimmer, body-hugging style with darker colors.
National Blue Jeans Day FAQs
What is National Denim Day?
National Denim Day is a campaign against sexual assault, celebrated annually on the last Wednesday of April.
What do blue jeans symbolize?
Blue jeans symbolize informality, rugged individualism, and classless respect for hard work.
Are blue jeans American?
Blue jeans originated from the harbor of Genoa during the Renaissance era, designed as part of the uniform for the Genoese navy, which needed durable pants for its sailors.
National Blue Jeans Day Activities
Put on some jeans. They could be pants, a jacket, or a shirt. It doesn’t matter, so long as they’re denim.
Customize your jeans
For a more creative approach, why not customize a denim clothing item? Show off your style by adding badges and patches to your denim jacket. Give your pants a more rugged look by ripping some holes in them or adding metal studs. Experiment with different patterns using bleach and cutouts.
Recycle your jeans
Got an old pair of jeans you don’t use anymore? Consider recycling them instead of throwing them away. Hundreds of D.I.Y. project ideas are available online, such as denim bags, seat covers, quilts, rugs, and even aprons.
5 Facts About Jeans That Will Surprise You
Jeans are an Italian invention
Blue jeans originated from Genoa, Italy, and the term ‘blue jeans’ is a corrupted English version of the French ‘bleu de Gênes,’ which means the ‘blue of Genoa.’
They once symbolized non-conformity
In the 1950s, blue jeans were banned in schools, theaters, and restaurants because they symbolized rebellion against conventional social norms.
Hundreds of millions sell yearly
Each year in the U.S., 450 million pairs of jeans sell out.
Most denim comes from Asia
Despite their massive popularity in the U.S., over 50% of the denim used to make jeans comes from Asia, specifically China, Bangladesh, and India.
Women’s jeans had side zippers
Back when jeans were called ‘waist overalls’ worn by factory workers, women’s jeans came with zippers on the sides.
Why We Love National Blue Jeans Day
Jeans are timeless
Most fashion styles and designs don’t make it past the generation that created them. But jeans have lasted over a century with little change to their aesthetic, and they’re still a mainstay in the clothing industry today. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 60; anyone can wear them. They’ll never go out of style.
Jeans are durable
The durability of denim is the primary reason workers first used it in factories, ranches, construction sites, and railroads. Jeans can take a beating and still last for a long time.
Jeans are versatile
Jeans go with everything — casual attire, semi-formal clothes, or the more rugged, ripped, punk look. The versatility of jeans is probably their most significant appeal. The options for color, patterns, and clothing combinations are limitless.
National Blue Jeans Day dates