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Style: Jean-eology


Photography by Lisa Staff

With fall just around the corner, pleasantly warm days and cooler evenings are coming soon. Look your best while relaxing by adding plenty of denim into your casual wardrobe. Trousers, shorts, skirts, shirts, jackets and dresses are just a few ways to incorporate the timeless and versatile textile into your autumn outfits. Find inspiration in these carefully curated looks from local stores and boutiques. A special thanks to Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks for allowing LOCAL Life to use its waterfront spaces. And a special thanks to the Carmines family, owners of the iconic restaurant, for agreeing to model. Hudson’s was one of Hilton Head’s first restaurants and has been serving fresh local shrimp for more than 50 years.

Available at John Bayley Clothier (his) and Quiet Storm Surf Shop (hers)

Available at Spartina 449

Available at Outside Hilton Head

Available at L + B Boutique

Available at Knickers

Dawn of denim

We all have denim in our closets in some shape or form. And it’s likely because jeans have been around for centuries and have evolved into the wardrobe staple we all know and love. The word “jeans” appeared in the 1800s and referred to a twill cotton cloth used for trousers. Blue jeans, or “denim,” were originally made from this fabric and manufactured in the French town of Nîmes. Textiles made during this time were often named after where they originated, so they called the new material “serge de Nîmes,” which translates to “serge from Nîmes.” Over time as the fabric became widely used, merchants shortened the name to “denim.”

Around the same time, Italian textile workers in Genoa produced indigo-dyed wool and cotton fabric similar to the denim fabric from Nîmes. Due to its durability, trousers, overcoats and dresses were made from this fabric for sailors and other members of the working class. The name “blue jeans” originated here, as “jean” was a shortened form of Genoa.

At the beginning of our denim history, jeans and denim were two distinctive fabrics. In mid-19th century America, jean fabric was used for trousers and overcoats and was typically indigo, olive or brown, while denim was always spun from white and indigo yarn and exclusively used for work wear. The most recognizable classic jeans we’ve come to know were made from indigo-dyed denim and had pockets and sturdy riveting suitable for work wear. They were patented in 1873 by Jacob Davis, a tailor, and Levi Strauss, the owner of a wholesale fabric house in San Francisco.

Forbidden fabric

Hollywood helped romanticize the blue jean in the 1920s and 1930s by putting the trousers on handsome cowboy types played by actors like John Wayne and Gary Cooper. In 1942 the American designer Claire McCardell sold over 75,000 of her denim Popover wrap dress. And in the 1950s, jeans came to be associated with rebellious, anti-establishment youth. Marlon Brando and James Dean popularized the image of the denim-clad teenage idol with huge sex appeal. Rock’n’roll stars helped cement the style as cool. Hippies and anti-war protesters wore jeans in the 1960s and early 1970s as a way to show support for the working class. And feminists chose blue jeans as a way to demonstrate gender equality. By the 1960s jeans had come to symbolize the counterculture. Some high schools banned the garment, which only served to enhance its status further.

Available at Cocoon

Available at The Back Door

Available at Kelly Caron Curated

Available at Southern Tide and Island Child

Denim diversity

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, high fashion also began to take an interest. In 1976 Calvin Klein was the first designer to show blue jeans on the runway. By the 1990s fashion houses such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior had also entered the jean market.

Over the decades the types and styles of jeans became stratified among groups and subgroups: hip-hop styles of the early 1990s were characterized by oversized, low-slung baggy jeans; intellectuals and hipsters turned to dark denim as a way to get back to the style’s roots; pop stars favored Diesel’s sandblasted and whiskered styles; aficionados paid high prices for vintage Levi’s and hand-dyed Japanese indigo. Today almost all luxury labels and high-fashion designers have sent jeans down the runway; they’re available at both ends of the price spectrum in many styles: wide, skinny, high-waisted, low, light, dark or colored. And this fabric has become a staple in everyone’s wardrobes, whether in trouser form, jackets, shirts, dresses, vests–the list goes on and on.

Available at Palmettoes and Island Child

From left to right: Oak, Andrew, Milly, Erin and Alice Carmines


Andrew Carmines

Local since: Birth. 1978.

Favorite way to wear denim: I have a couple of pairs of flannel-lined jeans that I wear in the winter sometimes.

Favorite way to eat shrimp: Fried shrimp po’boy

Hobbies: Flyfishing, surfing and growing oysters

Favorite thing about living in the Lowcountry: Being surrounded by the beauty of the area. And also, as I get older, it seems like I get to know more and more people, and it just feels like a very tight-knit community.

Fun fact: I was born in the front seat of my dad’s pickup truck.

Erin Carmines

Local since: 2008

Favorite way to wear denim: Loose, vintage jeans

Favorite way to eat shrimp: Steamed

Hobbies: Needlepointing, exercising and paddleboarding.

Favorite thing about living in the Lowcountry: Being surrounded by water.

Fun fact: I grew up in the desert.

Alice Carmines

Local since: Birth

Favorite way to wear denim: A denim dress.

Favorite way to eat shrimp: Fried

Hobbies: Playing travel soccer, sailing

Favorite thing about living in the Lowcountry: There are beaches, we live on the water and we can just do whatever we want at our house.

Fun fact: I’m named after my grandma.

Milly Carmines

Local since: Birth

Favorite way to wear denim: Jean jackets and jean shorts.

Favorite way to eat shrimp: Fried

Hobbies: Gymnastics, swimming and surfing.

Favorite thing about living in the Lowcountry: We get to paddleboard and do lots of other fun stuff.

Fun fact: I love sloths.

Oak Carmines

Local since: Birth

Favorite way to wear denim: I don’t really wear denim.

Favorite way to eat shrimp: I like them fried.

Hobbies: Playing outside, swimming and baseball.

Favorite thing about living in the Lowcountry: I like that we live on the water.

Fun fact: I don’t have that many. I like soccer.


Photography: Lisa Staff
Fashion coordinator: Bailey Gilliam
Location: Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks