I hadn't stopped to consider how much I love denim until a good girlfriend, who's just started a new styling business, showed me her new website at the weekend. “What do they really want to nail?” I ask, clutching a cold glass of wine, hunkering down for some real-life fashion drama. “Jeans!” she cries, “and boy do they grill me!” Jeans – hardly dramatic, but certainly fundamental to a woman's wardrobe. So, er, what do you say? (I'm wondering how you'd even begin to answer what could be the eighth wonder of the world, especially when somebody's hired you by the hour to come up with a solution). Find a woman the perfect pair of jeans? I'm not sure I could.
She hands me a book called A Denim Story: Inspirations From Bell Bottoms To Boyfriends, written by the designers behind cult jeans brand Current/Elliott. It is packed with photographs of iconic women wearing denim their way – Patti Smith in low-slung Tomboy flares; Jane Birkin in bright blue 70s denim; a snug-fitting buttoned-up denim jacket, its neat collar folded like origami beneath Debbie Harry's perfect chin. Looking at old images of Karen Elson, Kate Moss and Drew Barrymore – women of my generation whose trajectories mirror mine, if only in terms of age and the amount of boyfriends we ploughed through in the 90s – gave me goose bumps. Looking at iconic women wearing denim made me realise denim has become a part of my identity, of all our identities.
My friend, who is academic and forever on a V&A fashion course, finds answers for her clients through reading and research, whereas I tend to rely on gossip (opposites attract and all that). And thank God, otherwise I would never have discovered the ground-breaking news I am about to impart. *Get ready* Email from colleague: “Have you tried GAP's new ‘girlfriend’ jeans? Terrible name, great jeans. They're a lot like Frame Denim's Le Garcon, but at a fraction of the price.” I've spent £550 on two pairs of Frame jeans in the last couple of years – jeez, that's two Eurostar tickets to Paris. Gulp.
I've managed to convince myself my bum only “works” in Frame jeans, especially Le Garcon style, which is a hybrid between a boyfriend and a skinny – not too baggy, not too skinny and therefore perfect. Almost perfect – at £225, my eyes bleed when I hand over my credit card. With that in mind, I walk into GAP on a Monday afternoon, where I'm greeted by an army of well-dressed mannequins. Oh, hello, what's happened here then? I accost a shop assistant and commence my grill: how many washes do they come in, how is the fit, are they true to size, what about the length, are they all available in low-, mid- and high-rise etc, etc. She hands me a pair in each style (before fainting) and I head to the fitting room, where I discover they are all stylish, well-cut, comfortable and the fit is true to size, but you can only buy regular length in store; if you need long or short, you'll need to shop online. If I could be bothered to wear heels, The Skinny Flare in off-black would be mine, but I leave with a pair of Girlfriend Jeans in a perfect shade of grey. The waist is low, the leg is narrow; they are cut slightly wider on the hip and are shorter in length. I wear them with a tiny roll-up and they work with every shoe-combo imaginable. “Gap Girlfriend Jeans = winner” I text my colleague, who, by return of text, informs me she's off to buy another pair. Girlfriend jeans? Wife Jeans more like – at £44.97, she's a keeper.