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#TBT: How the West Was Worn

#TBT: How the West Was Worn

Levis_leadx400

The most important fashion item of the 20th century -- Levi Strauss jeans -- based their appeal on slim-hipped cowboys in a fun-loving, all-male environment.

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Statuettexsmall_0The patent for denim pants with copper rivets to reinforce seams was secured in 1873. Thus was born the most perfectly comfortable, indestructibly durable, supremely ass-hugging pair of pants ever made. If you held on to them and wore them for a few years, they became sensuously soft and molded to your body. The worn patches defined your shape. They had to be the first piece of clothing that became more perfect as they dissolved.

Skateboardx633_0Early Levi's ads were historic and fairly xenophobic. But the ads reached a peak of manly appeal in the 1950s, when the visuals focused on the man's butt with the signature red tab and portrayed an all-male world of bunkhouses, group showers, and horseplay. Small wonder that in the late '50s and '60s, both the underground biker culture and the underground gay culture (and yes, there was overlap) adopted Levi's jeans as the de rigueur uniform.

Since then, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and hundreds of others have jumped on the jeans bandwagon. But it was Levi Strauss and Co. that made the market what it is with its charming, frisky, and perhaps unintentionally sexy ads.

Playthegirlpartx633_0"I dreamed I was forced to act the part of a gal in my Levi's red tab jeans."

Poster_barberx633_0 Rodeo studs getting all gussied up so they can be "forced to act the part of a gal" for their buddies.

Poster_worktobedone_0 Lift from the legs Gus! Lift from the legs! Oh, God, yes, that's right.

Concealed_rivetsx633_0Concealed rivets and concealed passions.

Poster_showersx633_0 Who knows what those slim-hipped, shirtless cowboys will get up to next? High jinks in high heels.

Poster_solidodalisquex633_0"What're you lookin' at? Git over here and help me with my boots, darling."

Campfirex633_0 You know, Bob, those aren't the only flames you're fanning.

Gunfirex633_0 The suggestion here is that you can defend the land you stole from its rightful owners in some skintight pants and boots with super high stacked heels.

Indian_lorex633_0Wrong, wrong, wrong. First turn them Catholic, then make them wear Levi's. It's all part of the master plan.

Poster_facedown_0 That's it, buddy. I just want to get a picture of you looking into the canyon. OK, clench a little?

Poster_ruggedx633_0 I am very, very aware of the seams on Levi's.

Poster_skunksx633_0 Bunkhouse shenanigans.

Followtheleaderx633_0I'm sorry. boys, but if you want to be in my cult, I will need to inspect your pants for a red tab.

Aworlsofwearx633_0 Oh, I have Mr. Piazza for Geography. He's just dreamy. Don't you think he's dreamy?

Right_for_schoolx633_0 High school had been troublesome for Billy. A few of his fashion faux pas had dogged him for four years. Like that time he wore his tap shoes to class. He was hoping to rehab his image in college with some nifty new Levi's and some penny loafers -- no taps this time!

Leapfrogx633_0Here come the polygamists!

Psychedelic_adx633_0Woo-hoo! Here come the '60s!

Pantella01x633_0 Male bonding. In corduroy.

Panatela02x633_0 In "non-glitter" Dacron. Because we know you've been concerned about glittering too much.

Pantela04x633_0 As advertised, these "transport perspiration." But I want to know, where? Why will a whole bottle of Febreze not kill the "transported perspiration" in these damn things when I buy them in thrift stores?

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Christopher Harrity

Christopher Harrity is the Manager of Online Production for Here Media, parent company to The Advocate and Out. He enjoys assembling online features on artists and photographers, and you can often find him poring over the mouldering archives of the magazines.
Christopher Harrity is the Manager of Online Production for Here Media, parent company to The Advocate and Out. He enjoys assembling online features on artists and photographers, and you can often find him poring over the mouldering archives of the magazines.