Favorite Jeans and Self Perception
Roberta Sassatelli and Federica Galeazzi
Another bunch of interviews were also conducted with Milanese youth at their homes we have further explored the themes of fashion, anti-fashion as well as self-perception and seduction. A particularly strong embodied relationship with jeans, and favorite pair of jeans in particular, was prevalent among interviewees. Jeans stand in a particular relation to fashion, both fashion and anti-fashion. Jeans also embody change and its contrary: “let everything change in order for everything be the same”, seems to be a proper motto for Denim Jeans. Projected toward the future (“Jeans are modern” – we heard our interviewees say), favourite jeans are charged with the past: they become a kind of “mnemotechnique” to stress the continuity and coherence of one’s own biographical identity. Everyone has a favourite Jeans, just like everyone is “peculiar”. Denim Jeans also appear to provide access to forms of body sexualization that are felt as “safer” by especially women. They provide for forms of seduction that young women feel they can keep in control of.
Clara, a 25 year old student, told us of her favourite jeans, self-perception and fashion. As, she reckons “of course I have a favourite pair of jeans, who doesn’t? … I don’t know, it’s difficult to explain, but if I have to imagine myself at the top of my shape, confidence and joy, I see myself wearing those particular jeans”. She is adamant that Jeans are always fashionable: “I don’t think that jeans will ever go out of style, you know, jeans are eternal, as long as they are a basic classic model, and right now I have [in my wardrobe] a bell-bottoms jeans, a narrow jeans, a faded jeans or a jeans with cuts ... these maybe really correspond to particular periods, but if a jeans is to an extent classic, it fits every situations and periods”. Clara considers Jeans as casual chic, something which is linked to its potential in sexual relations. She interprets some recent commercial pictures – such as Replay Jeans - along these lines.
“Both wear Jeans as they knew they would end up in a park. Denim Jeans are ideal for any situation, thus it’s perfect when I want to look sexy, but also when I just want to be comfortable, because it enhances your figure, it makes you look more attractive, young, seductive … Even though your Jeans is not that fitting, or provocative, Denim Jeans always play a role in seduction!”
Cristina, also a 25 years old University Student, well expresses a view on the sexualizing the Body provided by Denim Jeans which is shared by many. “Let’s say – she reckons - that [Denim Jeans] shows the side of me that I have learnt to express with the coming of age, it’s the kind of jeans that I would never have bought two years ago, then my boyfriend arrived and maybe I have been pushed also by him, as he wanted me sexier … I would never have bought it on my own initiative, because I’m sporty, I wear baggy clothes. But on the other hand it also shows my desire to be attractive, so I think it represents the part of me that has always wanted to emerge, but that only sometimes I let out”. She makes clear that she wears Denim Jeans “above all to be sexually attractive”, her boyfriend gratifies her when she wears them “surely he likes me when I wear those jeans”, and she feels “more desirable when going out wearing those jeans”: therefore “I feel more confident, and maybe, feeling more confident, I also feel like being a bit vainer and seductive”.
As for Cristina, for Flavia, a 26 years old clerk, Denim Jeans are sexy, and a tool in the seduction game. She interprets a recent, controversial image from Diesel as part of an innocent erotic game whereby Denim works as a potent, but harmless, erotic signifier.
According to Flavia “the message of this ad, I think, is that [wearing Jeans] it’s like not to wear anything, because anyway Jeans are so much part of you, that it’s like to be naked. It’s like your own body, your second skin … then of course there’s a message of seduction, that he smiles and that there are these two girls it makes you really think about an erotic triangle, in which Jeans play a fundamental role, they all wear jeans and are into something sexy with it … and Jeans gives these two girls extra confidence”.