Everything You Need To Know About Denim – Q&A with Francine of Denim Therapy

jeans – A.P.C., jacket – Topshop

Although denim is a basic wardrobe staple, it can still be a tricky category to shop for – so, when you find the perfect pair, you want to hang on to it. Denim Therapy, a New York-based boutique tailor, caters to those of us who can’t let go of their perfect pair. They can seamlessly patch holes, re-dye your dark jeans – even temporarily adapt your favorite jeans for maternity. Francine Rabinovich, the founder of Denim Therapy, breaks down how to choose the right pair for your budget and how to keep them in perfect condition once you’ve found them. She also shares some of her fresh outfit ideas and answers some of our questions on the intricacies of the simplest item in our closet.

SB: In your experience, what pricey denim brand and style is worth the money ?

F: Definitely invest in some good raw denim for men – brands like APC, Nudie, and even smaller companies who only run limited editions like Mister Freedom and Raleigh Denim.

For women, they can turn to some of those same brands for a crisp raw style, or invest in great fashion jeans from companies like Hudson, J Brand, and Current/Elliott.

SB: What is the best inexpensive brand that has a great fit?

F: Probably Uniqlo, BDG (Urban Outfitters) Levi’s (for men)  and Cheap Monday. It’s a huge challenge to find great fitting jeans that aren’t a bit of an investment, but it is possible. We also recommend shopping the sample sales and keeping your eye out for when the pricier brands have a sale!

SB: This spring, I’ve seen a lot of denim pieces that aren’t jeans (like vests, shirts, skirts, etc). What’s a good way to wear denim besides as pants?

F: The denim jacket is an eternal staple that you can’t go wrong with. Wearing it with jeans is now socially acceptable – the last time that happened was in the mid-90s! But it looks great over anything from a spring dress to a tailored shirt.

Both men and women can wear this with ease, and most denim jackets are unisex (think classic Levis).

Jacket: Levi’s, Mens Look: shirt – Gitman Vintage, sunglasses – MARC by Marc Jacobs, tie – Dsquared2, belt – BOSS, jeans – A.P.C., shoes – BOSS, Women’s Look: dress – Acne, bag – Dooney & Bourke, sandals – Willa

 Denim skirts are less popular right now, but definitely happening for people who want to make an impact with their outfit. It’s all about the long denim skirt with a button-up center front.

sunglasses – Dior, top – Delia’s, skirt – Paul & Joe, ballet flats – Banana Republic, bag – Rebecca Minkoff

SB: Lou Doillon always looks very sophisticated and unexpected wearing jeans. Can you tell us three ways to style a basic pair of jeans in a chic but unexpected way? 

F: A crisp tailored white shirt, some medium-wash boyfriend jeans (cuffed), and bright red heels is a favorite look of ours. It’s tomboy-ish but incredibly feminine and chic.

shirt – J. Crew, bag – Alexander Wang, jeans – Current/Elliot, shoes – L.K. Bennett

Dark-wash skinnies are not only the most versatile, but the most flattering on varied body types. An oversized filmy tank top layered over a bustier and bandeau top makes for a cute model-off-duty look that you can wear to class or running errands. Change up the shoes and you’re ready for a night out!

top – Elizabeth and James, bustier – Marni, bag – Rebecca Minkoff, sandals – Ivanka Trump

Our third favorite, a pair of lightly destroyed light wash jeans worn with an impeccably tailored blazer and some statement jewelry. This is about as sexy as it gets!

earrings – Lulu Frost, blazer – Just Cavalli, tank – J.Crew, ring – By Boe, bag – Rebecca Minkoff, shoes – Reed Krakoff, jeans – Dsquared2

SB: Who is your ultimate denim style inspiration?

F: Jessica Alba has an amazing denim collection. She does a great job in wearing denim in all shapes and forms as well as how to style them

taupe jeans – Adriano Goldschmied, dark wash jeans – J Brand, hot pink jeans – 7 for All Mankind

SB: What’s your favorite denim trend and how do you wear it?

F: Colored denim is the most rabid trend right now, especially with the influx of prints and off-hues like pastel and muted taupe. We literally say, “Look at the color wheel for styling guidance.” Yellow jeans look great with purple and navy tops (go nautical with stripes!), cobalt blue jeans and a red jacket are a knock-out combo, etc. A safer way to wear them if you want to be less risky, is to stick to white and neutral color tops/accents.

Look 1: striped top – Tory Burch, yellow jeans – Hudson, sandals – Sam Edelman, Look 2: jacket – Madewell, cobalt jeans – Nobody, tank – Narciso Rodriguez, heels – Cole Haan

SB: I’ve been seeing raw denim in stores. What is it? Is it better?

F: Raw denim is denim before the washing, distressing, coating, modification. It has an entire culture and lifestyle around it due to the unique artisanal way you actually create the wear and shape of the denim after wearing it for a long time. Each pair is unique to the owner. It’s not necessarily better, it’s just a different approach to wearing jeans. For some it’s about fashion, for some it’s a relationship.

SB: How did you come up with the idea for Denim Therapy?

F: I had a favorite pair of jeans I loved that I wasn’t ready to part ways with.

SB: What is the most common repair request?

Crotch repairs.

SB: What is the #1 pair or brand seen in your shop that many different customers love so much they can’t give up?

F: We see the full range: 7FAM, APC, Nudie, J Brand, AG.

SB: What’s the most outrageous request you’ve had? 

F: One customer was in a motorcycle accident and had to be cut out of his APC jeans and requested for us to reconstruct them.

SB: What’s the best way to care for denim to make it last? Any laundry tips?

  1. Wash your jeans as little as possible
  2. When you do wash them, do so individually in a cold wash to prevent bleeding & shrinking and use a gentle detergent like Woolite
  3. Always air dry your jeans

SB: Is there anything I can do to prevent dye transfer from jeans?

F: You can wash them once inside out in hot water to run the color and then wash them using half a cup of vinegar to set the color. However, some dye may still be left so just be careful and follow instructions on the label.

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