For the last few months, there have been these YouTube advertisements plastered all over the subway platforms, in the subway cars, and even on the subways themselves. They showcase a group of girls who look no more than fifteen years old, and have six million followers each. I’ve never heard of any of them. Bethany Mota? Michelle Phan? Clearly I’m not in the right demographic. One aspect that I did notice is that they are “fashion and lifestyle” bloggers.
“I’m doing it wrong,” I tell myself each time I board it a train and see one of these ads. “Why didn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?”
One morning, not too long ago, as a mariachi band was playing in my subway car, I had a revelation.
“Why couldn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?” I asked the guitarist wearing the sombrero. “There are so few middle-aged male fashion and lifestyle bloggers giving advice to other men! The field is completely wide open!”
And that’s how this this post came into existence. Well, actually, there were two more steps before I get to the post.
First has to do with my dating life. Or rather it’s lack of existence. Last week, I was talking to a friend, a recently divorced woman who had already gone on a few dates and was pushing me to join an online service.
Seeking good advice, and trying to change the subject, I said, “Tell me, and be honest, as a friend. What do women most look for in a man? Is it his career achievements, his sense of humor, or his intelligence?”
She laughed, saying, “The number one attribute that women look for in a man is — how good his ass looks in a pair of jeans.”
This totally blew my mind. And then I promptly forgot about the conversation.
This morning, around 10AM, my mother asked if I wanted to go shopping with her at the Macy’s on Queens Boulevard. She received a “Friends and Family 25% coupon” in the mail and she was always up for a bargain. I hate shopping for clothes, but I agreed, mostly for selfish reasons. Near this Macy’s is a diner that makes a good Reuben sandwich, and there is also a Best Buy across the street, and I wanted to play with the new Samsung phone.
By noon, we were in the department store.
My mother said, “I want to check out some bras,” and I knew this was my cue to go check out the men’s department.
“You know what,” I said. “I could use a new pair of jeans. I’ll meet you back here in a half hour.”
So I went to the men’s department, which is always the crappiest section in every department store, located on the dark and dingy lower level next to the appliances.
I passed by the fancy designer jeans and went straight for the Levi’s against the far wall. I’m a Levi’s guy. I mean, other than two brief moments of weakness in my life where I bought other brands of jeans (one was Wrangler in fifth grade and the other was a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt men’s jeans that I would rather not discuss), I have worn Levi’s all my life. More specifically, I have worn Levi’s 501 jeans since junior high school, never deviating, never changing.
But something changed when I accidentally bumped into this sign.
I had a number of thoughts.
1) Therapy. Why do I always wear the same style of 501 jeans? Could my unwavering choice of jeans be symbolic of a lifelong rut, the equivalent of only eating Cheerios your whole life, or never leaving your house? Do I need to change up my style of Levi’s jeans in order to change up my life?
2) Dating. If my ass in jeans was going to be the dealbreaker in any relationship with a woman, I needed as much help as possible. I wasn’t born with the genes for jeans. You see, that was clever. Clever people never have good asses.
3) Commerce. What if I tried every single style Levi’s jean, making note of which jeans made my ass look the best, and then wrote about it in my first “fashion and lifestyle” post for middle-aged men, inspiring a whole generation to look to me as their sartorial guru?Who knows — by next year, I could be in a YouTube advertisement on the E-train, next to the fifteen year old YouTube stars?
So, that’s how this post was born. I went into the dressing room, sneaking in every different pair of numbered Levi’s jeans as I could find in the stacks of jeans, dressing and undressing and taking photos under the worst lighting ever known to man , and probably making the men in the others stalls wondering what the hell I was doing in there with all the shuffling and clicking of the camera.
OK, men — so here is what I learned about the various Levi’s Jeans. Just be advised that your ass might be different than mine.
First up was my old favorite — a pair of 501 jeans.
It was important to first try on a new pair of 501 jeans as a “control” subject on which to compare and contrast the other styles. Every since I entered my first science fair back in the day, I’ve always been very determined to follow the correct scientific approach.
The 501 has an “iconic straight fit,” but as you can see from the photo, it does very little for my ass, and the material by my thigh hangs like the drapes in a summer house.
I don’t want to badmouth the 501. It is a sturdy, honest choice. And it is the only style of Levi’s jeans with the “signature button fly.” Sadly, what I once found very cool, hip, and special, I now just see as something that requires extra work when I need to pee.
No to 501. It’s time to move on. Sorry, old friend.
The 505 “Regular Fit” fit pretty good, and didn’t feel much different than the 501s. Like twin brothers. The boring twin brother who became the accountant.
Described as a “classic, stylish and comfortable straight leg for all occasions,” it felt as generic as the description. No one ever gets laid wearing the 505s.
No to 505.
The 517 “Bootcut” was the only authentic boot cut that the Macy’s had in Queens, maybe because very few people in Queens ever ride their horses over the Queensborough Bridge to go to Manhattan for brunch.
Everything just felt wrong with these jeans. They were too long, and too high, and too much room in the seat. And do cowboys really need so much extra room in the groin area? Maybe now I understand why so many of my female friends have moved to Austin. Unless I was going to attend one of those “City Slickers” dude ranches over the summer, I would feel like a idiot walking around the city in these jeans.
No to 517.
Not unsurprisingly, this particular Macy’s on Queens Boulevard sold every available type of Levi’s”relaxed fit” style, which I think was a not so subtle way of Macy’s executives telling us that, “You are the Borough of Fat People.”
First up was the 550 “Relaxed,” which is described as “a classic laid-back fit” — and by “laid-back” I think they mean, “jeans for those who used to go to Grateful Dead concerts.”
These jeans didn’t enhance my ass AT ALL. In fact, it made it my rear end look even less impressive than it does in real life. This is a jeans for sitting — for an outdoor music festival, for smoking pot with your baby boomer friends, for watching an entire season of Orange is the New Black.
These are not the jeans to enhance your ass.
No to 550.
The 559 “Relaxed Straight” was even worse.
These were the worst possible jeans for my build, and the extra room in the rear made it look like I was wearing a pair of adult diapers under my jeans. Not sexy at all.
No to 559.
The 560 “Comfort Fit” continued the slide into denim atrociousness and I imagined old Levi Strauss himself turning in his grave at the thought of his name on these pants.
The 560 is roomy in the seat and thigh, but the waist is so high that I could have lifted these pants over my head WHILE still wearing them.
No to 560.
The 569 “Loose Straight Cut” is what I affectionately called “the gangster jeans.” The fact that these pants were the biggest seller in this Macy’s says a lot about the citizens in my neighborhood, and why no one in Manhattan ever wants to come visit me in Queens.
I always see young guys on the bus from Flushing wearing these jeans, halfway down their ass, and I never understood how they kept the pants from just falling down around their ankles. Now I know the truth. They don’t keep it up. After taking this photo, the pants fell around my ankles.
No to 569. I don’t want to show that much of my ass.
The 510 “Skinny” jeans gets a lot of press because all the young hipsters wear these in Brooklyn. I was pretty skeptical about them until I put them on, and you know what – I thought they looked pretty good.
Hey, I’m not bragging or anything that I still have “the right stuff.” And sure, I suppose I was a little narcissistic when I climbed on top of the seat, took off my shirt and imagined myself as Mick Jagger singing “Brown Sugar” to the mirror.
And then I sat down. And the jeans smashed my balls into what could only be described as a vise hold, in what seemed to be a punishment for that #NotAllMen joke I made on Twitter a few weeks ago.
No to 510.
One by one, I compared the jeans. I was in the dressing room for so long that I forgot about the time. An hour had passed, and my poor mother was wandering around Macy’s looking for me, and freaking out. And then came the announcement, said to the entire Macy’s over the loudspeaker system interrupting the music, “Will customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. Customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. You mother is looking for you.”
So, I never did try all the styles. I felt bad for mother, and I was hungry for that Reuben.
So, now is the big reveal. Did I find my Holy Grail of Levi’s Jeans?
And the answer is yes. The winner was clearly the 513.
The 513 is the “Slim Straight.” It gives you a bit of the snugness of the skinny jeans, but lets you keep your testicles for future reference. It is comfortable like the 501, just not as baggy.
Look at my ass. Have you ever seen it looking any better?
I know this post was probably long-winded, something that Bethany Mota or Michelle Phan or any of those fifteen year old superstars would never do in any of their YouTube fashion videos, but remember — this is only my first lifestyle post, so I’m still learning.