Johnny Cash… Joey Ramone… Dee Dee Ramone… I'm not sure if you're a musician, KD, but black jeans put you in good company. The last time I can remember wearing a pair of black jeans myself was to a Modern Lovers show at The Bottom Line. (You can do the math on the date.) But even though it's been a while, I still have a feeling for them… we wouldn't sell them if I didn't. We've stocked black Levi's since day one, and we made a special black selvedge pair for our New York Holiday Shop that we just reordered, for those who are little more into denim. The Levi's are like the intro class; the selvedge takes it to the next level. I think a lot of guys (including our staff) look at black jeans the same way I look at blue jeans – just as a super neutral that can be worn with almost anything. There are some guardrails, though…
So to your question — do you have to roll with only black shoes? Unless it's a bright white or colorful pair of sneakers, Converse or Vans or something, I'd try and lean toward dark colors. And I looooooooooove black dress shoes with black jeans – black double monks, or black tassel loafers — because it's sort of unexpected and gives the outfit a slight formal lift. For a little more rock 'n' roll cowboy vibe, Chelsea boots, chukka boots, Blundstones in bad weather, all look great as long as they're dark.
On mixing black and blue (the combo, not the Rolling Stones or Backstreet Boys albums)… depends on the shade. One of my favorite looks is black jeans with a blue oxford shirt. Awesome. The classic element of a button-down collar, combined with the softer color, just takes the edge off a little. So light blue is a yes from me. But while I like black & navy on women, not as into it for men. It gets a tad too Coco Chanel. So if you're throwing on a blazer, leave your navy one in the closet and go with a pattern that has some dark grey or black in it. A Prince of Wales, a houndstooth, even a solid Shetland with some heather … something with a little char in there to pick up the dark in the jeans. A black knit or a club tie (like the green owl or maybe the griffin) is a strong add, too.
And of course black jeans are gonna look good casual. Just don't overcomplicate it – a pair of sneakers (no socks), paired with a t-shirt in a pale color (white, sky blue) is great. Or, if you want to step it up slightly, go with clean Adidas trainers and a white polo or white oxford shirt with rolled-up sleeves, maybe a black cashmere sweater thrown on top… that's cool. And if you're really going all out, I think a black tuxedo jacket, a white roxford shirt, a black alligator belt with either a silver or brass plaque, and calfskin Chelseas with black jeans could be killer for the right occasion.
In terms of caring for black jeans, our general rule of thumb is not to wash them unless they're dirty, and when you do, wash them inside out. I'd go for the shortest cycle, cold water, and don't put them in the dryer if you want them to stay black. Just hang dry. On the flip side, if you're going for more of a beat-up, Ramones look and want to accelerate the fading, leave them in on the longest wash cycle, heavy spin, hot water, followed by the longest, hottest drying cycle. But know that any heat is going to shrink up the fabric, so beware the shrinkage if you go this route. Essentially, cold water keeps 'em dark, and hot water fades.
Okay, so KD… does that give you enough to work with? I think the main message here is to keep it simple (and to stay away from brown shoes and navy.) Have fun. Send us a picture if you feel good.