Torn Blue Jeans: a Poetic Commentary
Salvage the Jeans!
Yankee born and bred,
(even though a native California gal)
How could I help it,
With New Englanders for parents?
All forms of waste
make me rant and rave...
Spoiled food, spilled milk;
over all I have shed tears.
Now my nicely-broken-in and
fully comfortable jeans
have ripped at the knee.
"Oh, woe!" (I moan), spying
yet another threadbare spot.
The rest of them--still good--
I'm loathe to create rags!
But wait! Salve my conscience,
save the jeans--
through fashion's latest craze!
What Is Going on Here?!
And You Paid Good Money For Those...Those...Rags?
I wrote this poem a long time ago, back in April of 1993, when the craze of wearing ripped clothing suddenly appeared on the fashion scene. (The poem got a couple of minor revisions in May of 2010 and in April of 2019.)
As "fashions" go, it is a rather long-lasting one, and also one I still do not understand. Yet still, nearly every day I see someone proudly wearing jeans and shirts that are torn and ripped.
These tears have the appearance of fabric stress from age, showing as they do a portion of the threads from the weave in the cloth still present across the horizontal direction of the rip. The people sporting these threadbare and torn clothing are usually teenage girls. The pants often appear partially faded in color as well as looking threadbare and torn. Ironically, these same kids would no doubt recoil in abject horror at the thought of having to wear a pair of jeans that had actually ripped while being worn!
I do not know what has happened in the fashion industry to popularize this ragbag look, but when I was a kid, clothes that were that worn out were just that--rags--and they were duly torn up the rest of the way and added to the collection of rags for cleaning up all manner of messes.
When I was growing up, you simply did not go out and about in public places in torn clothing with your skin showing through. (And I'm not implying by any means any kind of sexual fantasy perversion like some uptight self-righteous folks like to see in everything.)
Quite simply, it just looks tacky, poorly groomed, and slovenly. The only time you would be out and about in such clothes would be if you were under the age of 10 or 12, and playing outdoors at home. Your "play clothes" might well be on the tattered side if you were a boy, or a tomboy as I was. You wore your sloppy, torn clothes for play, or for messy jobs like painting, if you were an adult, to save your good clothes for going to school, or out shopping or anywhere else in public.
Nowadays, people are going out and spending some pretty fair sums of money to buy pants that are already ripped and ragged looking! What kind of short-circuit has happened in our brains, here? If that's the look they really like, then why not just continue to wear pants that are worn out and torn? They would surely save themselves a lot of money.
I just had this same discussion all over again recently with my own 15-year-old granddaughter. It was as pointless as ever; she could not, (or more likely would not), recognize my point.
As it is, the joke is on them, and the designers and manufacturers are, as the saying goes, laughing all the way to the bank at all the people stupid enough to spend good money on already-ripped clothes.
© 2010 Liz Elias