A Brief History Of My Love Affair With Denim

'Stone-wash and faded or tight and black, jeans are an ongoing clothing constant that any man will forever come second to...'

A Brief History Of My Love Affair With Denim

by Laura Jane Williams |
Published on

Clack, clack, clack.

Every head turned at the insistence of my stilettos slapping the tarmac. 'Oh my god,' came a chorus of impressed whispers. I knew I looked good. I felt good. I owned it! Of course my entire form group were left open-mouthed. That day, sometime in late September of the year 2000, is a day I remember in full colour glory. It was my gateway to a fashion love affair. I look back and think: God bless the unabashed confidence of a year-10 schoolgirl in a pink pleather jacket and frosted lipstick. God bless her attitude. The beginning of my relationship with jeans – denim in general, actually - was cemented.

Upon this HEARTENING reflection, I decided to go searching H&M for my favourite jeans from over the years. Starting with these, the first ones.

Skinny Regular Shaping Jeans

It was only three weeks into the new term, and I was determined to prove my aesthetic worth to the swishy ponytails of the netball team, and, more importantly, Sam Potrykus – resident heartthrob in class B – with my sartorial prowess. High-waisted, dark-wash skin tight jeans pulled in the kind of bum only a 14-year old could have, flattened my non-existent stomach, and matched with a pair of killer black boots lengthened my legs by about half a metre. I felt a million clichéd bucks. 'You should have heard what Sam was saying about you at break!' the back row in third-period history told me as I beamed. I’d snared my guy. Skinnies are a look I’ve relied upon ever since.

It's not easy to find a stretchy, forgiving size 16 jean, but these guys, £39.99, replicate that look most marvellously. The shaping means you look banging whilst the stretch means they're totally comfy to wear. At 30, I'm still using the 'look' of my 14-year old self, albeit with a few updates and a lot more boobage.


The Fitted Denim Dress

Jeans make me believe in the role I am playing: teenage Lolita or grown-up seductress, style-first hipster or low-key boho. Denim dresses me up and dresses me down, and always-but-always imbibes me with a ripple of that unwavering self-belief I first tasted on a non-uniform day in North Yorkshire.

Stone-wash and faded or tight and black, up to my belly button or slung low on my hips, jeans are an ongoing clothing constant that any man will forever come second to. Versatile and everyday, even if that day is a fancy one.

As time went on I've accquired denim pinafores and dresses, shirt dresses and coats, too. This dress(£49.99) is so lovely and heavy in weight that it clings to every curve, and I'm gonna wear it with platform trainers for running around town, and chunky ankle boots on date night because it's casual, but reveals just enough skin when unbuttoned to prompt all the right thoughts.

Denim Dungarees

When my book was released and I found myself the subject of a photoshoot on Chelsea pier in Manhattan, as one does (!), the obnoxious teenager in me reared up in celebration: jeans were the only attire I could pose in. In cropped denim dungarees with chunky flat ankle boots and a fancy white shirt, I felt like a trendsetting queen on the subway ride from Brooklyn. I lunched with one of my favourite American writers, an Instagram #ootd poser herself, holding my head high at a #WhatIWoreToday demonstration of mastery that matched hers. I wasn’t quite sure I was in fashion, but dear lord I had style. I didn’t need to feel 'New York' when I was so obviously and proudly “London”. Those dungarees gave me an edge. Poise. Spunk.

Now I love dungarees, like these guys, £29.99. I don't know why I'd never done dungarees with heels before - I will do it all the time now!


As I get older, and fussier, sometimes only a structured shape will cut it. My favourite fashion week look was a snap on some random’s Insta of her in starched denim roll-up's, an oversized black dress, buttoned to the collar, and a pair of flat patent slip-ons. I could see myself in that, at brunch on a Sunday or for a meeting in Soho - especially with a structured rain coat. She could’ve been wearing designer or high street – I’ve no idea. That’s the point with style, isn’t it? That it’s not where it’s from, but how you wear it. Here I am emulating her rn. How much do the roll ups add? I mean, I'm kinda like Olivia Palermo, no?

Boyfriend Low Trashed Jeans

Ripped jeans will never not be in style, either, be they rolled up with converse and a plain white t-shirt, or full-length with a tailored blazer and slinky, stacked sandals. I’m prone to mis-matching the day/night rules on that one: to go all-out glamour in the day, and play it nonchalant and tousled for a bar at night. The summer I spent living in Rome I paired my shredded girlfriend jeans with a white blazer, tan gladiator pumps and a vegan leather tan tote to go to the local cafe to write, and every time I left the house I’d be spoken to in Italian, so strong was my look. These jeans, £24.99, totally bring that all back.

For an Italian to consider me as well-dressed as one of their own was it’s own particular stamp of approval – almost as strong as Sam Potrykus eyeing me up at the sandwich shop and then asking me out, over fifteen years ago.

Jeans are just so universal. Even at home with stretchy jeggings and a baggy cosy-knit sweater, I can pile my hair up on my head, throw on some loafers, and make like an Olsen twin to sashay to the corner shop with pride. I love how you can get away with approximately three weeks wear before washing jeans, too – that they’re so undemanding in upkeep. Another check on the list why jeans > boys, I suppose.

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Follow what Laura wears on Instagram @superlativelyLJ with the hashtag #laurajanewears

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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