Wants to Know

    Reader Mailbag: Raw Denim, Dressing Your Age, and How Long A Guy Should Take to Get Ready

    3rd December 2013

    Hauling out the SG reader mailbag today!

    You guys have been asking some great questions lately, so keep ‘em coming! Email me, megan (at), or get at me on Twitter, @StyleGF.


    I’m in my early 40′s but tend to looks much younger. My dilemma is that I feel too old for some of the younger trends (skinny rolled up jeans, etc..) but am too young to dress like an old man. I want to look stylish at work without being trendy; any advice on how to do that and not look like either a fratboy or a stodgy old banker?

    how to dress your age, dressing trendy, how not to dress like an old man{not the goal?}

    I can 100% relate to this question, as I looked about 12 years old til I turned 20, and have since hovered somewhere around “Can I see your ID? ..No, just yours” ever since.

    For guys, I think dressing stylishly without looking like you raided the closet of either your grandfather or your teenage nephew’s is – thankfully – a very manageable task.

    The most important element to consider for avoiding looking like either Mr. Monopoly or an indie rocker?  Fit.

    Skip a plethora of pleats, and shoulder blades that you have to walk in a room sideways wearing. On the flip side, no painted-on skinny jeans and tees you have to skip lunch (and probably breakfast) in order to zip.

    Instead, focus on a slim, shape-flattering fit. Have pants that droop at the ankles hemmed. Buy custom or MTM dress shirts if you can swing it. Oddly enough, putting more work upfront into finding – and yes, sometimes tailoring – the clothes that are right for you and your lifestyle helps you look easy breezy, oh this old thing? when you finally get ‘em out of the closet. Because looking comfortable and confident in your clothes is the best way to avoid looking like you’re trying too hard (or to be someone you’re not).


    With a new pair of raw, selvedge jeans, how do you not get the indigo to rub off onto your shirts from the waistband when you tuck the hem in?  I feel like this would ruin shirts.

    raw denim, how to wash raw denim, caring for selvedge denim{raw denim at NYC’s 3×1}

    While raw denim purists will have my head on a stake for this, I say – wash ‘em. Because you’re right; the dye from new jeans gets all over EVERYTHING. Especially from super-duper dark selvedge denim. While most denimheads recommend you wait six months to wash your jeans, if it’s a crazy dark rinse, I’d suggest washing them once before then to help the dye set. While you don’t want your jeans to fade, a little fade is preferable to ruined shirts (and couches..and jackets..and loved ones’ couches..and jackets).

    A detergent specially made for use with dark-colored clothing, like Woolite Darks, will help too.


    I have been a loyal follower of Style Girlfriend for the past year and a half, and I finally have a question for you!

    guy hair styles, pompadour, do women like pompadours

    I’ve heard several females make comments about how they do not like men who are too dressy or “take more time than they do to get ready.” I am pretty sure, however, that make­up and hair for a girl takes longer than it takes to do my 1950′s inspired pompadour (which does take awhile, I confess!).

    That said, is there something to be said about a guy who goes a bit overboard in his look? Any feedback would be greatly welcomed, as I am sure you have heard this comment quite often.

    Great question, Bryan.

    Personally, I think it’s more a question of being polite. No one wants to sit around and wait for another person all that’s just that thanks to heteronormative stereotypes reinforced over time, the idea of a man glancing at his watch while his date changes her dress three times, sets her hair in curlers, applies lipstick, etc etc is more expected. So to reverse the roles – the woman sitting around wondering when the man will appear, finally ready, puts many ill at ease.

    The way I see it, neither party wants to wait on the other, so however long you need to get ready? Start then. My mother always sent me out of the room first to go get ready for family events when I was younger. I took the longest in the shower, figuring out what I wanted to wear, that I wax exiled first. I took twice the time, but came downstairs when my brother and sister did. That’s what counted. It’s simply math; whoever takes longer to get ready should start getting ready first.

    Of course, your friends may be referring, not to a guy who looks too put together, but who goes overboard with his look. I love a good pompadour, but not if it’s accompanied by a zoot suit and a wallet chain. That’s not an outfit, that’s a costume. If that’s not you, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    First, I wanted to say that I love your blog! I have been committed to upgrading my wardrobe over the last few months, and SG has been a great resource for new ideas.
    While I have been busy upgrading my look, I have been trying to get my wife to do the same as well. She is on board with the idea, but we have found it difficult to find good information on women’s style. It seems that the only info we can find is about fashion, ie what the celebrities are wearing today, which we don’t care about. What I am thinking of is either books or blogs that deal with the basics of women’s style: fit, proportions, colors, coordinating, etc.  Any ideas?Thanks for your help!
    style books for women, style resources for women, lauren conrad style, jessica quirk what i wore
    {ladies with style}
    It’s great that both you and your wife are becoming more invested in your personal style. I really do believe that when you look good, you feel good!
    For your wife, I’d suggest she pick up my fashion blogger pal Jessica Quirk’s book, What I Wore: Four Seasons One Closet Endless Recipes for Personal Style. It’s a great primer for what you need in your wardrobe, and how to mix and remix elements in new ways.
    I also really liked – and don’t laugh! - The Hills star Lauren Conrad’s book on style, called simply, Lauren Conrad Style. It’s got a lot of great visuals and really simple, straightforward and positive advice.

    Tell me:

    How long do you take to get ready on date night?

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    • Tod C

      As I guy my 40s the big thing I find that makes you look old is wearing something that was in style in your 20s (many people stick there). Fit is great advice, I can wear a similar outfit two different days but I always get the comment about the ones that fit better (today’s shirt is going to Goodwill….).

      Likewise you look ridiculous in young guy clothes anyways so you likely never got them. But watch the young guys- they try out some ideas that are worth stealing and try much harder.

    • TJ

      I’ve never done the selvedge denim thing because I stick to Levi’s. However, I would assume they include some kind of care label with them. Maybe ask the person at the store or email them on the website, I’m sure they would know what to do.
      As for the too dressy thing, some women like that some don’t. I think it is a matter of personal taste. There are women who could care less what their guy wears and there are some that care a great deal. Their opinion of what constitutes “dressy” can mean different things. For some that means anything but a t-shirt and jeans, for some it means a suit and tie.

    • kellen owenby

      I am an absolute denim nerd, but I am also a rational human. Cold soak your new raw denim in the bathtub with woolite dark before you wear them. Then hang them to dry. This will prevent a lot of indigo transfer. However, after this initial cold soak, don’t wash them for at least 6 months if you’re looking for high contrast fades. If you don’t care about high contrast fades, wash them as often as you want (knowing that with each wash you lose a little of the dark indigo color)… They’re just jeans. Treat them however you want, and don’t think about it too much.

      • Adam Wyatt

        Agreed. Cold soak ‘em once or twice! It will remove a lot of that excess dye.

        I heard a funny thought about denim. It’s ironic how pants originally designed for the tough wear of a miner have become high fashion, and we worry so much about how we treat them.

        • The Future

          I totally agree with that thought. I can appreciate a nice pair of denim that becomes a second skin, but it’s not cashmere or a silk shirt. Beat it up, wear it in, wash them if you want to wash them, soak them in vinegar, freeze them, leave them in the sun for 2 days. Whatever’s clever, they’re meant to be worn.

          I’m with you on the cold soak. A cold soak with a detergent and then just straight cold water.

    • average joe

      you can wash, but you shouldn’t dry

    • Junior

      I once bought a regular pair of banana republic jeans and the dye turned my underwear blue.

      I have a hard time wrapping my mind around buying something as expensive as raw denim jeans then not wearing them for 6 months, I practically wear my new clothes home from the store. And I do understand the concept of wearing them forever, yesterday i wore a pair of corduroys that are so old that they are now flat

      • Style Girlfriend

        hahahah, oh no!!!!

      • WideEyesTWBlog

        It’s not that you don’t *wear* them for 6 months, it’s that you don’t *wash* them for 6 months. The point, I believe, is wear more, wash less, taken to the extreme. I’m not a selvage denim person myself, so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the technique, but that’s the gist.

        • Junior

          I jumped to my conclusion before giving my reasoning. How can you wear the jeans while the dye is setting if it is likely to damage your other clothes? I presume hanging them in the closet is just as an effective method for drying as wearing them. But I guess good things come to those who wait

          I hope I’m not coming off as a hater here, there are plenty of things I do that others would not agree with, I’m just trying to share my difference of opinion

          • WideEyesTWBlog

            Ha, hey, I’m not arguing with you…I think it’s a bit silly too. I’ll usually wait a bit before washing, and I don’t dry my denim, but 6 months is excessive at the least, in my opinion.

          • kellen owenby

            I’m on my 3rd pair of raw selvedge denim, and I can tell you that they don’t fade all over everything like you may think. I wear raw denim everyday, and I can tell you that the only item I really noticed indigo transfer on is my suede desert boots. I guess if you wore a white ocbd tucked into new raws that it would get messed up, but other than that, it’s really not a big deal…

            • Adam Wyatt

              My suede desert boots are the only real victim of indigo bleeding as well. Have you found a good way to get that off once the tops of your desert boots start to turn blue??

            • kellen owenby

              I haven’t tried. I kind of like the character that they have now…

            • Style Girlfriend

              Yeah, I think that adds some nice character. And really, how often are people looking at the tops of your shoes!?

    • Wolf

      First of all “heteronormative.” I consider myself to have a pretty good vocabulary, but I had to look that one up. Nice work.

      One thing I’ve been told is if you wash your raw jeans the first time with a bit of vinegar (or do a tub soak in vinegar) it will help stop the dye transfer quite a bit. Not sure how well this works though compared to just washing them, as I haven’t done both. The woolite dark is a good suggestion.

      I take my time when getting ready for a date, but my average is about an hour, which includes trimming my beard, shaving my neckline, clippering my hair if necessary, showering, properly ironing my clothes, and getting dressed. I also listen to my music on full blast during this time, so a lot of time is wasted singing and dancing like a fool around my apartment.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Thanks for jumping in with the vinegar trick. Wonder if anyone’s tried that here!

    • Jim

      Speaking of washing denim, does anyone else kind of hate the mom who washes her daughter’s jeans in that Maytag commercial? I know they make the daughter really whiny, and the special Maytag washing machine is supposed to prevent fading and shrinking, but all I could think of is how mad I’d be if my mom washed — and even worse, DRIED — my raw denim.

      I mean it wouldn’t ruin my life or anything, but if you spend the money on raw denim you want the nice fades and molded-to-your-body fit you only get from going a few months without washing. I do think an initial soak is a good idea just to get some shrinkage out of the way, otherwise when you do finally wash them they’ll shrink a little and your fade lines will be in different places when you put them back on.

      • lazy_panda

        If you don’t want your mum washing your jeans without telling you first, do the washing yourself! Once I started washing my own clothes, my mum stopped looking in my wardrobe.

        • Tod C

          For sure. When I was 15 (and 6 feet tall) my mother threw all of my shirts in the dryer rendering them all unwearable. I took over my own laundry after that day.

          • Style Girlfriend

            “I remember when I became a man. It was sophomore year, and it was laundry day…” :)

    • ATLien

      I’ve tried the raw denim thing on several occasions and I never can make it past about a month or so. They start to stink and feel icky so I wash them (never dry). My current pair I have done the best one and have had them for about 3 months. I’ve washed them twice, but just last night I was looking at them and thinking about another wash.

      I really don’t understand how anyone can wear jeans for 6 months without washing them. I wear mine for a month and am pretty easy on them, but they just really get gross.

      • Adam Wyatt

        How i get through this:
        If they start to smell, I put them in a gallon size zip lock bag and place them in the freezer over night. This should kill everything that makes them smell. (That is actually a style gf tip I read here). Then I spot clean any spills or dirt i got on them.

        This is definitely not for everyone. It definitely takes a commitment and a little crazy to do.

        • kellen owenby

          I freeze mine every couple of months too!

        • ATLien

          See, I’ve attempted to freeze my jeans before but have never put them into a zip lock bag. After being frozen without a bag, they ended up smelling like “dirty freezer”. It is hard to explain what that is, but I have a feeling some people know what I’m talking about.

        • lazy_panda

          The myth that freezing your jeans kills the bacteria and stops the smell needs to stop.

          Does freezing the jeans stop the smell? Yes. But while some bacteria is killed, the moment you put the jeans back on, they start multiplying again and your jeans start stinking again.

          There is no replacement for a good wash, and turning your jeans inside out and leaving it out in the sun does a better job than putting them in the freezer ever will.

          • kellen owenby

            I wash my jeans every 6 months or so, and I can honestly say that they don’t stink at all. Maybe they’re magic, but I’ve never had a problem…

      • kellen owenby

        I live in my raw selvedge denim (even in the ATL heat), and mine never get that smelly. I just freeze them every now and then, and I wash them about every 6 months or so.

        • ATLien

          Do you wear them during the summer ? I really don’t know how anyone wears jeans during the summer here, but I see people out in public doing it all the time. As much as I hate the way it looks, I basically wear ratty khaki shorts or chinos all summer long.

          • kellen owenby

            I work in a casual office. However, we can’t wear shorts. So, I wear lighter weight (9-12oz) jeans even in the summer. I pair them with boat shoes or loafers. On the weekends, I go with chino shorts. I guess if I was out in the heat a lot during the day, I may not wear them, but I’m not… (I just don’t really like wearing khakis)

      • Nick P.

        While mine aren’t raw, the jeans I have on now made it from Christmas last year to August of this year without a wash wearing once a week, in ATL, with no A/C in my car and were fine until they got muddy. I am fortunate that my body chemistry doesn’t make a heavy odor sweat unless I am exercising hard or outside all day long. Since the first wash, I think they have had 2 more out of necessity.

    • Dan J.

      I think you missed the mark on Bryan’s question. I don’t think he was talking about girls not wanting to actually wait on guys to get dressed. I think he was talking about girls not liking guys who’s outfit is so carefully presented that it LOOKS LIKE they took longer to get ready than the girls do. Bryan sounds like a bit of a dandy in his dress (not at ALL meant to be a pejorative term) and some girls dislike that look. Others find it quite attractive. Wear what you like, Bryan, and what makes you feel good about yourself. Evaluate your dress based on your own perceptions and the feedback you get. Don’t take every bit of criticism or less-than-positive reaction to heart but if you get consistent responses that are not supportive, then consider whether it’s more important to you to like what you see in the mirror or for everyone else to approve of your outfit. If the latter, then start making adjustments to your style.

      • Derric

        “Wear what you like, Bryan, and what makes you feel good about yourself,” is great advice.
        As far as Bryan’s question goes, I want to be with a woman who appreciates my style. I don’t worry about women that think I’m too dressy.

    • Mikey

      Definitely do not wash your raws. No way.

      If you wash your raws, that doesn’t mean the dye comes out. It means the dye stays in, meaning no fades. To be honest, if you don’t want fades, that’s perfectly fine (and better for certain occasions and dressier dark denim), but then don’t get raw denim! If all you care about is selvedge, JCrew makes a decent selvedge pair in their “resin crinkle” wash (or whatever that really dark one is called), and that makes a whole lot of sense. What doesn’t make a whole lot of sense is paying the premium so that you can fade them yourself, and then washing them so that you can’t fade them.

    • kellen owenby

      *Just to be fair, I used to wear dark wash Gap jeans, and they bled all over everything. I haven’t had that experience with my raws…

    • Nick P.

      How long does it take me to get ready for a date? That’s a good question as it has unfortunately been a while since I have had one. Typically though, I would say an hour if I have to shower and shave. I have taken some care to upgrade my closet to the point that I can just about reach in blind and pull out a put together outfit. Hair is just a quick comb through and some pomade if I am going fancy. Shaving with a safety razor is definitely the longest time eater if I am going for the perfect close, baby bottom smooth shave but it is well worth it.

    • Adam

      I have done the vinegar trick for raw selvedge, and noticed no issues of staining or fading

      In terms of getting ready, definitely faster than my wife, I shower quickly and get dressed quickly (from dressing at the gym regularly I have also gotten used to tying a tie with no mirror). Only thing that is slow in my routine is shaving, since I do a 3 pass wet shave with a safety razor, with some good skin prep before, it takes a bit more time than if I were to face massacre with a cartridge razor. All in all still done pretty quick (if we’re rushing it’s bad if she tries to shower while I shave, because she gets it sauna hot which fogs the mirrors, which is sub-optimal with a razor blade to your face).

    • Biscuit!

      Ugh, dressing your age. I’m officially ‘in my 30s’ so I have to actually get my act together rather than just be a Fancy Lad. I’m not going to miss really loud shirts.

    • Melissa Mellie

      I am 45 year old and still my friends say that I look 30 or 35 because I do my workout regularly to stay healthy and to keep my skin fresh and glowing. There are several benefits of exercise for our skin and I never forget to use my favorite skin brightening cream everyday..!!