By Sergei Zolotariov

Question: "I live in my jeans; they're like my security blanket. But I want to smarten up my look. What can I do?"

I wear jeans every single day, and have done so for the past 20 years. I've always had a special feeling for denim. Where I grew up, in Central Russia, jeans were very expensive on the black market, and I only had a few pairs. I became obsessed with them, and now I probably own a few hundred pairs.

You don't need that many, though, even if you want to live in jeans like I do. A few pairs are more than enough.

For every day, I recommend a basic style on the slim side: not too baggy, not too tight, like Levi's 501  in a dark rinse, or 505 straight leg. And jeans don't automatically have to mean "casual" -- all you have to do is avoid obvious mistakes and enhance them with a few easy additions.


Faded is fine -- when it occurs naturally, like in vintage jeans. But skip the kind with manufactured signs of wear, such as whiskers (the ultimate denim sin). And stay away from too-trendy styles, like super-tight skinny jeans.


With tapered jeans, roll them up a few times; with beat-up jeans, roll once.


I don't recommend wearing sneakers that are very commercial, except for Converse, which are classic. Go for basic shoes, like simple cap-toes. U.S. Navy officers' shoes are amazing. Work boots are great with jeans, as are dress shoes.


Get a few different types -- from dressy to casual -- to change the look of your jeans, depending on your outfit and the occasion.


Specifically, button-fronts. Wear a straight hem out, as long as it doesn't cover the pockets of your jeans. If you're wearing a dress shirt, tuck that in, and wear a good belt and dress shoes. Dark-rinse denim is definitely more appropriate here.


What you're wearing doesn't affect the look of your jeans as much as how you feel. I have a friend who is very corporate -- short hair, clean-shaven -- who looks great in ripped jeans. Another friend looks like a wild child but can't wear distressed or vintage denim because he's not comfortable in that style. Choose jeans that work with your personality. 


Sergei Zolotariov is the owner of First Standard Co., a denim company based in New York City that creates jeans made in the U.S.

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