Let's take a look at what's behind the history of a fabric that has made the fortune of a whole host of clothes. We mean denim, from its origins to the appeal it has been able to add to an important wardrobe staple, the denim shirt, in its different shades and washes.
The term denim first of all from the city of Nimes, in the south of France, where they manufactured a special fabric in indigo cotton and linen yarns. A tradition that originated in the Middle Ages, for workwear that would go on to make denim so famous. Thanks to its hardwearing durable characteristics, this fabric became very popular in Nimes, especially in tough work environments, such as ports. That’s why the word denim became synonymous with the English term blue jeans – which also comes from the French, bleu de Gênes, referring to blue from Genoa, where the sailors and dockers began to use denim for their work overalls.
In the latter part of the 19th century, Genoa’s Atlantic trading took denim to America. It was 1853 when the famous and hugely successful 5-pocket denim trousers first made their appearance, thanks to a certain Levi Strauss, manufacturer of trousers for miners, who had been looking for a strong, durable fabric for use in mining environments. It was then that Strauss began importing blue Serge de Nimes.
Later, student movements and hippies gave denim its anti-bourgeois feel, probably adding a style image that would be one of the most powerful and imitated in fashion history, going on to be seen on the catwalks for decades to come, with flares and tasselled suede jackets and waistcoats. But soon, this freedom of anti-conventional expression, the child of the revolution, gave rise to the denim shirt, which began its rise in popularity with the big names in fashion. In the roaring ‘80s, in its wide range of differently stitched versions, with added studs or Swarovsky crystals, the denim shirt could be found in the collections that were making fashion history, and which continue to create the coolest looks in men’s and women’s fashions on catwalks all over the world.
But what's the best way to wear a shirt that looks so casual? Is there a way to give it a more glamorous, elegant style? Of course! It's just a question of pairing: women’s fashion trends see denim shirts worn casually over a long skirt - better if accessorised with a nice necklace - or some elegant corduroy trousers. The same goes for men, who can play about with this versatile piece, wearing it under a dinner jacket or evening suit, in fact Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Daniel Craig all had theirs made to measure at Turnbull & Asser in Jermyn Street, London.
And if the aim for a less traditional look, then casual trousers or a pair of jeans - a great classic for elegant comfort - and a warm jacket in tweed.
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