When clothes don’t make the man

Six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon: $5.34

Copy of Hillbilly Elegy (hardcover): $15.67

Designer jeans caked in fake dirt and mud: $425

The appearance of escaping a liberal bubble: priceless.

So writes Philip Wegmann regarding Nordstrom’s “dirty jeans,” which it sells for $425.

Nordstrom advertises the jeans this way:

These heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.

Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted that selling dirty jeans signals the end of the American experiment. Mike Rowe describes the dirty jeans as “a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic.”

Wegmann is more sympathetic. He says:

The dirty jeans reflect a shift in the yuppie psyche, an attempt to regain a lost masculine ideal of hard work. Rather than dismissing the dirt-covered denim, conservatives should appreciate the sentiment the trousers represent.

He adds:

In reality, [the dirty jeans] the best kind of cultural appropriation.

Just like the Romans copied Greek culture, coastal elites are now trying to borrow flyover country fashion. Though laughable, the attempt is still laudable because it recognizes the inherent value of a kind of physical toil that’s generally unavailable in the concrete jungles of Brooklyn or Los Angeles.

Maybe. But I’m with Ben Sasse. To borrow a turn of phrase from one of my law professors, the question raised by the purchase of dirty jeans for $425 isn’t just whether American civilization will survive, but also whether it should.


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