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Men’s style guide: does my bottom look big in this?

My tailor of choice is normally Primark where they stock a fine line in summer linen, but the other day, in the vain hope that more variety in my wardrobe might transform my image/life I bravely ventured into another, more exclusive, gentleman’s clothing emporium.

I appreciated that I might be required to dig a little deeper into my wallet in this rather dimly lit den of fashion and beautiful people, but little had prepared me for £185 price tag discreetly attached to the jeans I selected. Clutching my wallet tightly I beat a hasty retreat home, where jeans are optional, to research matters sartorial.

Why do people pay such huge amounts for something that spends most of its life underneath a table? Am I missing something?

Mr Primark and I have always agreed that a pair of blue jeans is a pair of blue jeans and that anyone who spends more than £9 is wasting their money, but it turns out that there are other things to consider when buying jeans. Thankfully, because I really don’t want to recommend silly logos, brand name isn’t one of them. The most important consideration comes down to how the denim is made.

Apparently “raw” denim (sometimes called “dry” denim) is the stuff we should all be looking out for: it will last at least 10 years if you treat it right and always look great. In recent times (since about 1950) there’s been a rather namby-pamby trend of wearing pre-washed denim, but it’s just not the same. For one thing it’s been treated with nasty chemicals and for another you will be buying a product that will never really feel like yours because its character was established long before you came along. Buying denim is like buying a puppy; you need to be there from the very start to create that special bond.

The second thing to consider is how the fabric is assembled. “Real” denim is made on proper old-fashioned shuttle looms, not modern projectile looms which create a material that will easily fray. The proper stuff is called “selvedge” denim and if you know what to look for it’s easy to tell the difference. When a cowboy looks you up and down that’s probably what he’s doing.

Denim is dyed with a heavy pigment which sits on the fabric waiting to rub off onto something nice. So the next thing you have to think about is your mum’s nice cream-coloured sofa. Pre-washed denim doesn’t lose dye because the industrial washing process removes most of it, making for an anaemic lifeless rag. The bottom line is that if you wear real denim you have to treat it with respect and stand around – looking manly. If you must sit down, sit on a bar stool, or a horse. Definitely not on your mother’s sofa.

Surprisingly, jean aficionados spend a lot of time discussing how to wash them: on balance they prefer that you don’t. If you must, then once a year is the most they will tolerate, but don’t ever use a washing machine: turn your jeans inside-out and lay them in a cool bath with a squirt of wool wash. After 40-45 minutes rinse, but don’t scrunch or wring. Leave to dry, outside, on a line. Preferably when the wind is blowing across the prairie from the west.

After you’ve finished you can use the line to lasso your horse.

As someone who lives with a washing machine that’s more sophisticated than Apollo 11 I’m not convinced that this approach to hygiene is such a giant leap forward. But if you’re the sort who’s happy to spend £185 on a pair of jeans then you’re probably one of those hipster types who works in design and spends half his life waiting for a professional beard trim. You’re certainly not the sort of person who gets his jeans dirty. Or maybe you earn enough to have dozens of spare pairs, all neatly stacked up in your wardrobe. But for most of the people I know not washing their jeans would be akin to showering in sewage.

Selvedge? Shuttle looms? Pigment dyes? £185? I’m afraid that it’s just not for me. Oh well, I think I’ll just head back to Primark. I don’t think I’d make it as a cowboy after all.