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Fringed Jeans

I’m a blue jeans kind of girl — always have been. When I was five or six years old, my mother bought me a pair of indigo blue Sears Toughskins with white pockets. I loved those jeans with all my heart, but they were so rigid and stiff when they were new that bending my knee was almost impossible. It took several washings for them to become comfortable.

When I was a teenager, I bought bell bottom jeans and hip huggers at a store in our local mall named The Junction.

And jeans are still a staple in my wardrobe. A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to buy a new pair of jeans — maybe a couple of pairs of jeans. I drove over to the outlet mall and parked my car outside of a Levi’s store.

I was drawn to a rack of new arrivals, but in mere seconds, I realized that rack wasn’t for me. They wanted over $50 for a pair of blue jeans that had rips in the legs and holes in the knees. They wanted over $60 for jeans with messy fringed bottoms — no hem at all.

“Can I help you find something?” a 20-year-old associate the size of a toothpick asked me.

“I need a pair of age appropriate jeans,” I said.

She guided me to a wall of folded, stacked denim.

“Light denim, dark denim, or stretchy denim? Low rise or mid rise?” she asked holding her hand in a way that reminded me of Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White.

“I don’t know. What’s in style?”

“They are all in style,” the twig answered. “But the biggest fashion right now is a fringed ankle jean. They look great with super high heels.”

She pointed to the lower part of a pair of overpriced Levi’s and tousled the fuzzy edge in a playful way.

“I just want some knocking-aroundthe- house jeans,” I added. “I don’t plan to ever wear super high heels ever again in my life.”

I ended up purchasing a pair of straight leg denim jeans from their clearance rack and drove over to a store that sells Lee and Wrangler brands. Minutes into the store, I realized the same thing — loose, frayed edges everywhere. Young women held jeans and shorts up to their legs, admired the fringe, and said, “I love, love, love this new distressed look.”

New? Distressed? I left the store in disbelief.

They say that what’s old eventually becomes new again, and this is certainly the case with fringed blue jeans. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, my siblings and I cut the legs from at least one pair of our school jeans to make cutoff shorts every single summer. We didn’t see it as some fancy do-it-yourself fashion project. We didn’t watch YouTube videos to learn how (in fact, YouTube didn’t exist because the Internet didn’t exist back then). We simply grabbed a pair of scissors and made the cuts. We used our fingers to get the frayed edges started, then we tossed them in the washer to finish the process. When they came out of the washer or dryer, we clipped the threads to even them up.

After leaving the outlet mall a few weeks ago, I found a dated pair of jeans in my closet and carried them to the dining room table, where I performed surgery on them — cutting the hems off and starting the frayed edge with a fork and my fingers. I gently separated the cross threads and pulled from off the bottom. I tossed them in the washing machine, then the dryer. When I took them out, they were up there with the hottest fashion trend.

“What do you think?” I asked my husband, modeling my distressed jeans around the house.

“I like them if you like them,” he answered.

I’m happy I recycled a pair of my jeans by giving them a fashionable fringe a few weeks ago. It was fun, and it brought back memories. I plan to wear them for several more years and point to the bottom and say to friends, “Hey, check this out. Remember when everyone did this?”

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