ARZONICO: Seeking denim: I found myself in perfect jeans

Opinion Column: College, But Make it Fashion

Everyone finds pleasure in different things — some people find their passion in dance, food or books, but I found mine in fashion. Fashion combines so many art forms in one: movement, architecture and, of course, visual and design. Following fashion and the business of fashion has become more than just a passtime for me, it’s a passion. 

But no matter who you ask, every fashion lover has a different answer to this all-important question: What is your favorite pair of jeans? Some people never wear jeans, and I think of them as the lowest form of fashion, but as street style has begun to mix with high fashion, almost everyone has their own denim journey.

Growing up, I dreaded the thought of ever wearing jeans. My mom loved to outfit me in straight leg, medium wash jeans from The Children’s Place but I much preferred wearing the same pair of black leggings every day until I wore holes into them. The only jeans I wore were jean shorts, and I would get so excited the first day it was more than 60 degrees and I was allowed to show off my pasty white chicken legs for the first time all year.

It was not until I got older that I began to appreciate the outlet of expression fashion gave me, thus jeans slowly started to creep into my life. By seventh grade I owned every pair of “jeggings” and ultra-skinny pair of triple zero jeans Abercrombie offered — light, dark, ripped, embroidered, you name it I had it. In the spring and summer when patterned leggings and shorts were all the rage, I remained in my black jeans and long sleeves. 

I read somewhere once that clothing has a pretty big impact on your psychology, and that when two students are taking an exam, the one wearing nice clothes does significantly better than the one in pajamas. Apologies to every educator I had in high school, but this is one of my biggest takeaways from my four years. 

From freshman to senior year, I had the same pair of “lucky jeans” I wore for every exam, SAT and presentation: a pair of light-wash Flying Monkey boyfriend jeans with a rip on the left leg. By senior year they had more than a few rips and tears, but I always knew when putting on those jeans that whatever I was doing was serious. I was probably the only one in my SAT testing room wearing jeans and a sweater, but at 8 a.m. I could not have felt more confident and more ready to take the test. I really wish I remembered where I read that and if it is even true, because I definitely believe it. 

The summer after my senior year of high school I faced somewhat of an identity crisis — I was going to a new school with no clear vision of what I was going to do or how my life was going to be. This deeply affected me, and many days I would not make it out of the house, much less care about what clothes I was wearing. I traded in white denim and summer dresses for pajamas and sweatshirts as I worried about where my life was going. 

It was not until the week before move-in day when I was out shopping for the first time in a month when I put a pair of jeans on again. I had forgotten how a simple article of clothing could make you feel. It was the first time I had felt like myself all summer, and when I wear them now I still feel the same. 

Recently, denim has started to creep more into the high fashion world than before. You can buy a pair of $2,700 flare jeans from Prada, but most people cannot do that. Jeans do not have to be expensive to be good: my favorite pair is a pair of vintage Levi 501s I got for $12. It might sound dramatic, but in the right pair of jeans you can feel like you can conquer anything. Anyone who tells you differently simply has not found the right pair yet.

Marley Arzonico is a Rutgers Business School first-year planning to major in marketing. Her column, "College but Make it Fashion," runs on alternate Tuesdays.


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