They said it couldn’t be done, and frankly, I’m just astonished as everyone who doubted me: it is an absolute miracle that I was actually able to take pictures of these jeans after all they’ve been through this summer. For all of you afraid of white denim out there, I’m here to tell you: if I can make them last this long without permanent stains, SO CAN YOU.
I’m kind of embarrassed it’s taken me this long to document these Ginger Jeans. I made them back in April at my Pintuck & Purl workshop in New Hampshire and have been wearing them at least once a week since then. I’ve just been plain old bad about photographing my makes this year. Jaime helped me take a few pictures after our Fancy Tiger retreat a few weeks ago but they were taken on an iphone at dusk and were way too grainy, so I finally just asked Alex to snap some pics this week before something terrible happened and the legend of these jeans haunted me forever.
I love white jeans. I had a RTW pair for a long time, but I stopped wearing them after I designed Ginger. They never fit very well and it’s hard to go back to ill-fitting jeans after making your own for so many years. I really missed having a pair in my closet; they make me feel like I’m in an 80’s movie in a good way, and scream effortless summer even if I will sometimes sneak them out in the middle of November, just because. Pulling on a clean pair makes me feel like I’m not the clutzy, clumsy, stain magnet that I really am.
You may be asking why I tempt fate like I do in these white beacons of purity. If not a single day has gone that I haven’t gotten tea, wine or olive oil on myself, why am I arrogantly strutting around in white pants practically begging to be splashed with the vivid stains of hubris?
Because life is too short and I discovered the magic of savon de Marseille.
Let me explain. When I packed for our trip to France this year, I tried to pack as light and tight as possible. I thought it was going to be hotter than that Serge Gainsbourg song with all the moaning, not realizing that Guillaume’s mom’s place is high up a mountain and quite chilly all year round. I ended up wearing these jeans a lot since they were the only pair I brought, and I quickly gained a reputation in the family as The Tache Monster (tache = stain). Every day I got something on myself. Every. Single. Day. The pinnacle of this stain streak resulted in G’s 3-year-old niece spilling scalding hot coffee all over my white jeans while we were out visiting. I had no other pants and we had an entire day planned out in the world, and I am ashamed to say I actually started crying in front of the entire extended family. They were my only “warm” pants and they now looked like I had been murdered and buried in them, even after 20 minutes of earnest scrubbing. I was also wet and cold and (I later realized) PMSing intensely hard, but surely crying over spilled coffee while you’re on your dream vacation in France is a slight overreaction.
This is where the magic of French soap comes in. My mother in law promised that they’d be good as new after rubbing the stains with her bar of Marseille (which I saw in literally every kitchen in France) and letting it soak. After throwing them in the wash the next day, it was like the whole coffee/niece/crying spectacle never happened. Did I buy 6 bars of savon de Marseille to circumvent more white denim disasters in the future? What do you think? (ps you can get the same stuff I stocked up on here. It really is the best).
Stains aside, let’s talk about these puppies. They are the high-rise Ginger with a few modifications. Lately, I’ve been liking a slightly shorter yoke, so I transferred a half inch of height from the yoke to the back leg. I also wanted a slightly less skinny leg. so around mid-thigh I changed my seam allowance from 5/8″ to 3/8″. This is an easy way to create a straighter leg without tracing off the stovepipe legs from View A. I also cut a cropped, raw hem on purpose; I wanted some casual fraying action happening around my ankles.
The denim is Cone Mills and I’ve had it for a few years. Originally I thought it was too lightweight for jeans (nothing worse than seeing cellulite through skintight white denim I always say!) but it’s actually kind of perfect, and now I regret not using it in one of our kits. The only issue with white denim (besides having to be very careful around grass and wine glasses) is how it also shows every single little drag line, since it casts shadows so easily. I’d suggest not freaking out and overfitting if you notice some horizontal lines you don’t see ordinarily. You can’t be stressed in white jeans; you have to let the river of life have it’s way with you while you’re wearing them. Call it Zen and the Art of White Denim.
The button and rivet are from our copper fly-front kit and I have to say, I love the patina our hardware gets after being washed a million times. I also added a white leather patch on the waistband just for kicks.
Worn with my Unstainable jeans is another older make, a Kalle tunic. This was actually one of my very early samples when I was developing the pattern. I believe this was from the iteration with the comically large neck opening, so I have to wear it undone because otherwise, my head looks like it got hit with a shrink ray. That said, this is probably one of my most worn garments this year. I used a deep indigo Cone shirting from my stash, and I love how it’s faded with lots of washing.
The tunic variation is hands down my favorite thing to wear with skinny jeans and leggings, and when I discovered how much I loved it knotted with high waisted jeans it was like discovering a whole new garment. Because of the deep curves at the hip, it looks great tied up – you don’t have all that volume you would have with a normal shirt.
This was definitely a high rotation outfit this year, and as long as I have my Marseille soap I foresee many more years with these Gingers in my closet.
Would you ever throw caution to the wind for a pair of white jeans? Any other hot tips for keeping them as white as possible for as long as possible?