What would you do if you found a pair of jeans of unknown origin in your bedroom? For Kate Brien, the Los Angeles stylist and must-follow Instagrammer otherwise known as @viewfromthetopp, it was a hole-y, white-denim boon. The Levi’s someone left behind were too good for her to toss; and now they’re some of her favorites (see if you can spot them on her site). We’ll let her tell the whole story – keep reading. But we’ll just say, if these jeans are yours, don’t please try to get in touch; you are not getting them back!
We love Kate’s photos of her outfits, taken from the top (or Topp) down. And so do her thousands of Instagram followers. But we love to see her whole look – her grandfather’s hat included! – just as much. So it was fun to go see her at home in Venice Beach, California on a recent trip to L.A. There were other jeans in her closet – plenty – which she mentions below. But for her nothing beats these mysterious, ripped up Levi’s.
P.S. Because their back tag is long gone, we can’t know their style number for certain, but considering the alterations Kate confessed to making to them, we think they feel most like a 505. Levi’s fanatics – any comments?
Tell us about these jeans.
It’s actually a funny story. After graduating from college, two of my best friends and I moved into this gigantic loft in Chinatown. It had a ton of space, and ended up being a sort of crash-pad for all of our (semi-homeless) guy friends – mostly a bunch of young artists just starting out. I went back to L.A. for the summer and, of course, my room was taken over. When I got back, this pair of white Levi’s had been left behind. After a few months of them not being claimed, I decided they were too good to just sit there so I had them taken in a bit at the waist and up at the hem. Since then, they’ve been one of my favorite pairs of jeans. There are these great smaller holes down the back of one leg, and a few little paint splatter stains that make them unique. Years later, I still have no idea who they belonged to, which is what I love most about them.
Describe them in one word.
What do you need your jeans to be, always?
I like my jeans to be comfortable, and worn in naturally. I tend to avoid jeans that are noticeably branded and have too many factory-made details.
If your jeans could talk, what would they say about you?
That I’m extremely loyal.
What’s the most memorable place these jeans have been?
In my friend’s pool during a birthday party. I was thrown in! Interestingly enough, this is a scenario I’ve been in many times.
What’s the weirdest place?
Click on an image to see the slideshow
Was there a pair you should have broken up with sooner?
Frankie B’s, eighth grade. That was a relationship that never should have begun in the first place!
Let’s just say they were skin-tight bell-bottoms that had about a two-inch rise… They were really trendy at the time and my friends and I were obsessed. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking!
Do you own a pair that only you could love?
I don’t think so. I tend to gravitate toward a more classic style of jean that I think could be (or have been) loved by many!
What are your top three jeans of all time? When did you get them and what you do you love most about each?
One: R13 original slouch skinnies – I got these right when R13 launched and they are my all time favorite fit. They are not too tight, not too baggy, and have whiskers in all the right places. Two: Vintage Levi’s 501s – I picked up my first pair of 501s at the Rose Bowl flea market and they are definitely my most asked-about jeans. They are tight in the hips and straight through the legs, and cropped just above the ankle. Nothing beats the original classic. Three: Golden Goose Skinny Jeans – Golden Goose makes the absolute best basic jean. I got my first pair about four years ago and, although they’re expensive, they’ve proved to be worth the investment. They have a medium rise, are slightly cropped, and are not too skinny. I wear them to death!
What are the first jeans you ever had, or remember having?
I remember my dad buying me vintage Levi’s at American Rag. I still buy a lot of my jeans there, actually. My dad has always had amazing taste and personal style. He loved taking my sister and me shopping as kids, and often told us what he thought was cool or what he wore when he was younger. He didn’t have any sons but that didn’t stop him from dressing us up in vintage Levi’s and motorcycle jackets. We picked everything out together, but it was definitely his idea.
Who besides you has worn your jeans?
I’m not sure, but most likely a lot of people! Since I’ve owned them, however, just me.
Is there a pair you still own from a previous life?
Many. I say the more worn in, the better, so I tend to keep a lot of my jeans for the long haul.
How many pairs of jeans do you need to feel satisfied, like you have enough?
I don’t think that there’s a certain number. I definitely have enough jeans, but my collection is still ever expanding.
What do you love most about the ones you wore for this shoot?
I find it really interesting that these jeans have an entire history that I’m unaware of. There are holes in them that were made by someone else, or maybe multiple people, and others that have come from me. They feel like a collaboration of sorts.
What do your jeans reveal about the way that you live on a daily basis?
They’re stylish but practical and can keep up with my busiest days, but they can also relax with me on my days off.
Is there something you do only in your jeans?
Pottery! I have been doing it for about six months now. I go to this place called Bitter Root on Beverly Boulevard, a studio that is open to members 24/7 (I’ve still never been in the middle of the night!). I love crafting and, though I am still very much a beginner, pottery is such a rewarding hobby. As of now, I have mostly made bowls in natural colors or with indigo details. They look great around the house and make the best gifts.
On what occasion(s) will only a pair of jeans do?
When I can’t figure out what to wear, I know a pair of jeans will always do the trick.
Where do you buy your jeans?
All over. Flea markets, second-hand shops and some higher-end boutiques: Rosebowl Flea Market, The General Store, American Rag, Barneys, Mohawk General Store…
If you had to replace all of your jeans with something else, what would it be?
Ahh, that’s my nightmare! But if I absolutely had to, I’d say trousers.
Fill in the blank: Without my jeans, I am________.
Fill in the blank: In my jeans, I am________.
Springsteen’s jeans, or Kurt Cobain’s?
I’d have to go with Springsteen’s. I love a ripped up jean on occasion but I’m a classic girl at heart, and Springsteen’s jeans are that.
Lastly, these white Levi’s you’re wearing have holes in the, um, derriere. How do you address that when you wear them?
Holes in the butt are tricky. I usually tuck in a tee or wear a pair of bikini style undies. I love TEN undies – I’m wearing them in light blue in the pictures.