Doing the Laundry … Or Not

I’ve got a confession to make – I do not wash my pants. I’ve got a closet full of dungarees (I love that word! It is so much more cool than “jeans”) and I rarely ever wash them.


That’s correct, I rarely ever wash my jeans.

Sure I have my “work jeans” for when I am going to be rolling around under the car or if I am doing yard work where I will get particularly dirty. My Carhartt bibs serve me well in that environment.

I also have a pair of Levi 501s that I call my “weekenders”. Those are the jeans I wear on Saturday and Sundays for hacking around the neighborhood with my family.

Last weekend I washed those jeans after 18 or 20 months of weekend wear. They had been soaked previously; that was when I first got them and wore them from wet until they dried on my body (that is not as uncomfortable a process as some imagine). However, last weekend was the first full cold water machine-wash that they have received.

As for my other jeans – the ones pictured hanging in my closet – most of them have ever been washed.

On Monday morning or Sunday evening I choose the pair of jeans I will wear for the coming week. I have nine pair (and another pair on their way) that I rotate through.

If I get a little spill on my jeans I will spot clean them. However, most of these jeans, other than the dark grey, the light grey, or the khaki twills, have never been inside a washing machine.

And the most amazing thing? You can’t tell that they have never been washed!! They do not look dirty and they certainly do not smell.

I did say that I have a new pair on the way. They are a pair of super heavy weight (16 ounce denim) dungarees from my friends at Gustin that I purchased before the Canadian dollar plunged in value next to the US dollar. I will post more about them once they arrive later this week.

Until then, keep on not washing your jeans!!



My New Gustin Jeans

Some time ago I purchased and received my new Gustin dungarees. I have been wearing them now, off and on for about three months and I am now ready to talk about them.

Gustin Button Fly
Gustin Button Fly

You can choose the fit you want for your Gustin jeans – straight, slim or skinny. I do not do well with anything that conjures an image of “slim” or “skinny” so I get the straight fit. That “cut” works well for me.

When I first received these jeans I have to admit that I was not 100% pleased with them. Although I followed the sizing guide that Gustin has on their website and I measured myself as a Gustin-size 40, when I first tried on my new Gustins, they simply did not fit comfortably. I found that they were just a little too snug in the thigh.

However, after wearing the jeans for a few days, I they loosened up through the thigh, the butt and the waist and became more comfortable.

Even after wearing them for those few days though, I did not find them to be a perfect fit so I went to another strategy – soaking them in hot water and then running them through the spin cycle of the washing machine. Once the jeans were spun out I wore them for a few hours (yes, I wore them when they were wet) and let them shrink to fit me absolutely perfectly.

A side benefit of the soaking process is that the jeans shrunk in length by at least four inches making them fit my legs with a simple roll up cuff.

As a side note, I rarely wash my jeans (wash them once every six or eight months) and when I do wash them I NEVER put them in the dryer.

When I sit down while wearing my Gustins, I find they sit low across my butt (no pictures of that!). As a result of this, I find it important to wear a long shirt so that people do not see too much of me.

Gustin Jeans
Gustin Jeans

Now about the jeans. First off, I love them. I love the craftsmanship and I love their finish. However, when I ordered them, the fact that they were to be made from a 14 ounce denim, I assumed that they would be very heavy and a “stiff” pair of dungarees. Fact is, they aren’t. They are a very soft and easy wearing pair of jeans.

There is great attention paid to the details in the finishing of these jeans.

Rear Pockets
Rear Pockets

You know how all too often the rear pocket of your jeans wears out from keeping a wallet or other goods in them? Gustin doubles up the fabric in the bottom of the rear pockets so that those pockets will not wear out as quickly as they do on regular jeans. Thoughtful.

Gustin Button Fly
Gustin Button Fly

The button fly is also made of super-duty buttons. They are easy to do up and easy to open.

As I may have said in my other post, I am so pleased with my Gustin dungarees that I have already purchased a pair of heavy slub dungarees and a pair of Chinos from Gustin. Those purchases will be prepared and delivered some time in May.

The jet black warp woven with an equally dark black weft (you know how denim is created right? It is two lines of thread running diagonal to each other…sort of) makes these jeans a very dark black. The darkness of these jeans makes it so that EVERY piece of lint and hair shows up on them. It also makes them look much “dressier” than regular jeans that fade to white much more quickly – making these a great way to get away with wearing dungarees to the office more often.

Gustin Button Fly
Gustin Button Fly with A Simple Leather Belt

The fact is though, the expert craftsmanship that has gone into making them, the quality of the fabric, thread and the buttons makes me very pleased with my Gustin purchase.

As I may have said in my other post, I am so pleased with my Gustin dungarees that I have already purchased a pair of heavy weight-heavy slub dungarees and a pair of Chinos from Gustin. Those purchases will be prepared and delivered some time in May.

The Value of Artisan Produced Goods

There is a movement, a resurgence of manufacturing taking place in North America. The resurgence is taking place with small mom and pop type shops. This is a movement away from massive factories with hundreds of workers chained (figuratively speaking, of course) to machines.

People like Railcar Fine Goods – makers of fine denim wear.

Railcar Fine Goods
Railcar Fine Goods

The amazing thing about these jeans, made from what I understand is raw selvedge denim is that you do not wash them very often and you NEVER put them in a machine dryer.

The pair pictured to the right have been worn 384 times! With one cycle through a washing machine!

The thing that makes these jeans even more attractive as they age are the creases that develop in them. I believe it is called “fade”. The deeper the fade, the more street cred you have.

About the jeans pictured here, they are owned by Suzy, a Facebook friend of mine who lives in Texas. Suzy is also part of that resurgence of creating goods. She owns and runs an Etsy shop called The Lazy Leatherworker. In her shop she sells wallets and small leather goods like Field Notes covers, leather bookmarks and other interesting things.

The belt in her jeans is from Sweet Trade, another one of those small, owner operated studio workshops. In their “about” page they talk about working with American sourced goods and how it costs them a little more and takes a little longer but they feel it is the “right” thing to do.

Before you go all “why the promotion of American made goods,” another denim worker I follow is Naked and Famous Denim. These people use only the most unique and rare denim fabrics from Japan. The prestigious mills in Japan, from which they import all their fabric, are committed to producing only the best (and most expensive) denim in the world. Even though they use the finest denims they can get their hands on and everything they produce is made in Canada, you can still get a pair of awesome jeans for $150 or so.

Levi 501s
Levi 501s

Some might think that is a lot of cash for a pair of jeans. But keep in mind these are produced right here in Canada using premium quality denim.

Compare the $150ish price to the internet price of $60 I paid for my raw denim Levi 501s (pictured to the left) and I see the value in supporting the smaller, home grown artisan-like people who are producing goods.

The cool thing is that the internet has made it so that artisans are available and accessible to a much larger marketplace making their chances of success that much greater.

Anyway, enough rambling away by me. All I am really saying is, before going to a mall and buying mass produced goods, consider buying from a small shop. It may cost a little more but typically you are receiving premium quality goods and equally important, you are putting your money into the hands of the person who made the goods and that is just all-round good for society.

Oh one last thing, my Levi 501s in the picture above have been worn since May, about six months ago without once being machine washed. I sat in my kids’ pool one hot summer day with them on but that is it. They are developing a beauty of a set of fades.

One more last thing, the belt in my 501s is from the guys at A Simple Leather Belt (I love their belts and the story behind how they are made!).