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Jeans and trousers

What exactly are: Selvedge jeans?

What exactly are: Selvedge jeans?

In a nutshell

Selvedge jeans are made from a type of denim woven on narrow, 19th-century-style shuttle looms rather than big industrial machines. You can spot them by the edges of the fabric inside the cuff: if there are thin white stripes—usually with a red or orange stitch through them—then the denim is selvedge. If the edges are just sewn up, then it's not.

Backstory

Jeans were always made from selvedge denim before mass production came along in the 1950s. And the fabric always came out of the loom with that red or white stripe along the edge, hence the description "self-edged," which became "selvedge." 

Modern production methods created more fabric and cheaper jeans, but selvedge jeans can still be worth it. They're not always more durable than jeans made from mass-produced denim—although the "self-edges" are less likely to fray—but it's nice to wear something that's been made so carefully, in such a timeworn way. 

How to wear them well

"Essentially, you should wear selvedge jeans as you would any other pair, but it's nice to roll up the cuff to show off the selvedge detailing," says Thread stylist Millie Rich. "It adds a nice contrast to your look. Just make sure the turn-up doesn't make the jeans too short: they shouldn't be any higher than the top of your ankle."