While sitting on a bench in front of the Tribune offices last week, enjoying the sunny, warm weather, I observed a young lady walking towards me. As she got closer, I concluded that she would be the subject of today’s column. Believe me, I was not checking out the physical characteristics of this young lady as, due to my age and marital status, my girl watching days have long ended. Rather, an item she wore, patented May 20, 1873, by San Francisco businessman Levi Strauss and Reno, Nevada, tailor Jacob Davis had caught my eye. Join me today as I review the creation and evolution of the Levi Strauss’ creation of blue jeans, back in the day.
I did not wear jeans back in the day. Well, I actually did wear jeans, however, jeans worn during the ‘50s and ‘60s were incorrectly referred to as dungarees. I have since learned, from several internet searches that dungarees are a pair of trousers with a bib attached to the front and suspenders that go over the shoulder. They have additional pockets on the bib and pant legs, making them ideal for carrying tools or other items. Most of us called them overalls. They were originally designed as a practical item of clothing for manual workers in the 19th century, miners in particular. They had a distinct, utilitarian look. For some, overalls without bibs and suspenders, which were introduced in 1960, were referred to as waist dungarees. They have since become a fashion statement, are referred to as jeans and now worn by people of all professions and ages.