Summer Wheat: The Denim Post

Rarely do you read about jeans on Trad & Ivy forums or blogs. It is a taboo topic. Just to provide a little context around the complex relationship between Trad and jeans, Christian from Ivy Style’s denim post was called “The End is Here: An Ivy Style Jeans Post.” Wheat jeans on the other hand have managed to escape the stigma of their blue brothers and have gained acceptance into the the world of Trad & Ivy.
California Cool1966 World Surfing Team Wheat jeans get their credibility primarily from being a part of the 1960’s west coast prep look. From what I can put together wheat jeans gained popularity sometime in the early 60’s as part of the west coast prep/Beach Boy/surfer look. Wheat jeans were worn right along with Pendletons, Purcells, and all of the other west coast classics that have worked their way into Ivy League closets

There are currently two great threads about wheat denim that touch on their history and where you can find a pair now. AAAT member Gamma68, started the  “The Trad Wheat Jeans Thread.” One of the gems of this thread is member Reuben’s suggestion of getting a pair of wheat jeans from Wrangler. He recommends the Wrangler Cowboy Cut in tan (See here) and others seem to agree. Another great read is Talk Ivy’s, “Surf Ivy/The West Coast Look,” started by Member Tommy. There are a ton of great west cost prep pictures to check out (Like the ones I used above) in this thread.

Wheat jeans are no longer just for surfers on the west coast. Though they still have their California cool vibe they are also worn by the crowd that just doesn’t really like jeans. For this crowd wheat jeans allows them to add a casual denim fabric into the mix without having to give up the tan color in which they are so comfortable. I don’t have a pair of wheat jeans myself, but I am contemplating getting a pair.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

14 Comments on "Summer Wheat: The Denim Post"

  1. bluchermoc says:

    No, no, no. Bluchermoc does not endorse!

  2. Roger C. Russell II says:

    I love wheat jeans and wear them almost everyday. Unfortunately I wear knckoffs of the originals. However, the authentic 519 California Bedford Cord is available from Levi’s for around $200.00. I have not allowed myself to have a pair. A very good knockoff of the Levi’s 519 is the J. Crew Bedford Cord. However, they seem to only stay fully stocked on sizes in the Fall and Winter. Depending on the time of the year you can purchase the J. Crew product from $139.00-$34.99.
    I know the Wrangler product well. Wrangler makes that pant for Equestrians. It has a very high waist and roomy legs. There are many Equestrian features in this pant that I will not bother you guys with. I will have to say that the material is completely off from what Trads called Wheat Jeans.
    I will mention one more source of authentic Wheat jeans, and it is the most expensive. The actor Steve McQueen lived in Wheat Jeans back in the 60’s and if you notice his had no belt loops. There is a company on the West Coast called Mr. Freedom. They make the beltless version of Wheat Jean and if I remember correctly they are about $300.00. These beltless pants were originally made by Lee. They were called the Lee Stayprest.
    Also, something kind of interesting about Wheat Jeans is that Levi’s actually called the 519 color white. Kids that wore them referred to them as Wheat Jeans because they are actually an off white . Bedford is a great fabric and it was originally intended for military use.

  3. Lennart says:

    Hi Jerrod, I think you should go for it, you will like them, the feel is something inbetween chinos and blue jeans. I used to wear tan jeans in the 90’s and reacently decided to get me a pair once again. I like them a lot, goes perfect with boat shoes with or without socks, polo shirt or ocbd.

  4. Child doc says:

    Jerrod, I agree that you should give “wheat jeans” a try. Lee actually makes a pair of “regular fit” jeans in what they present as a wheat color. They are relatively inexpensive–I got two pair on sale (as I like to wear them as casual pants in the summer) for around $29 (mine were purchased on sale through the Belk’s Store in southeastern U.S.). The fit is relatively trim and the sit at the waist. The fabric wears well and they get a bit lighter in shade as they are washed. I think they are indeed a great addition to the “cool”/casual end of the trad spectrum.

  5. CAY says:

    As a young teen in the late sixties, I don’t recall “wheat jeans,” or any jean that was tan. At least, my crowd didn’t wear them. We did, however, wear white jeans. These were made by Levis. They were a kind of ‘dress-up’ jean from regular dungarees, which is what they were called back then. I loved wearing white Levis with a madras shirt and a navy surcingle belt. They seemed cooler than khakis, since that was what my father and grandfather wore and anything that differed from my parents’ generation was the right stuff for us in the late 60s-early 70s. In any event, whenever we were going to meet girls, the go-to pants were white Levis.

  6. MrErikJ says:

    @Roger, I believe Levi made the Sta-Prest, but you could be speaking of a different model. They were indeed favorites of McQueen as well as Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace. I don’t think they’re available currently, but Levi’s brings them out of the vault periodically. As a cotton/poly blend they were intended to hold a crease semi-permanently while living between the worlds of chinos and jeans. The Levi’s Commuter is a currently available relative.

    @Jerrod, personally I always have a pair of rigid and khaki/Timberwolf Shrink-to-Fit 501s in my closet. Great jeans for casual wear and the khaki shade is quite versatile and fairly authentic for trad enthusiasts (narrow leg, higher waist). I also rather like the Athletic fit jeans by Levi, but I only have 1 pair in dark blue. They don’t feel as hearty as regular 501s, but they are well-fitting.



    • Roger C. Russell II says:

      Levi’s does or did do a Sta-Prest as well. I think if you just had to have a pair they may be available in the U.K. I got on this big Wheat Jeans kick several months ago and found the information on the Lee version from the 60’s because I was curious to know about the pants McQueen is seen wearing so often for the span of about a decade. Some other reader noticed something distinctive about the stitching and recognized them as the Lee product which I think Lee spelled as StayPrest.
      I am with you on the Levi’s products. Presently I wear the 513 in tan because it reminds me of Wheat Jeans. The taper from knee to ankle in the 513, 508, and 511 Commuter really replicate the look of
      the Wheat Jean of the 60’s. However, some of the readers of OCBD might be put off initially by the 2 percent of spandex. I am shocked that I even tried them on, but as it turns out I love them. I came to the conclusion that loving classic style clothing does not mean that I can not be open to new ideas. Some new has to be brought in to the mix of products or it ceases to go forward and continue.
      However, I really wish I had a pair of 519 Bedfords.

      • MrErikJ says:

        I agree with you. I wear the 541 Athletic Fit, which has a little spandex in it for stretch. They’re great.

        I agree with you, while I have a preference for classic styles, I’m not opposed to updates if they improve the product. I think the part of “trad” I struggle with is the fetishistic obsession with the details unique to a past-era. You can dress classic without having to reproduce every element of Take Ivy. It’s style, not religion. No need to live in a time capsule.

  7. Gary says:

    Great post, Ox. I have a confirmed dislike of blue jeans myself, but I really like both wheat and white jeans. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but a great option I’ve recently come across is the 501 CT. I could find them offered only in “White Light” and not wheat or tan colors, and the color is quite white. But the great thing about the 501 CT is that it takes the regular 501 silhouette but tapers it from the knee to the ankle, giving the whole jean a slimmer, more mid-1960s, somewhat “mod” or “surf ivy” vibe (to my eye). I can also recommend the “covert khaki” color in the regular 501 offering as a decent wheat-like jeans.

    • Gary says:

      If I may add an addendum: Regarding sizing, I found that I had to buy a longer inseam in the CT than I normally would–34 instead of 32. The tapering seems to bring these up a bit shorter, although, of course, I understand fit may vary, person to person. I hope that helps.

  8. Alexander says:

    I’ve never liked blue jeans either, but having read this article, I’m thinking more and more of giving wheat jeans a try. Thanks a lot and greetings across the Atlantic

  9. Harrow Carper says:

    Jeans are jeans.
    A gentleman only needs grey flannels and khakis/chinos.

  10. oxford cloth button down says:

    Thanks for all of the great feedback and ideas. I know that the readers of the blog appreciated it as I received a few emails about it. I am might even go try on a pair of jeans this weekend. I have said it before, but casual (as the general public defines it) is not my strong suit.One pair of jeans might go a long way.

    • Alexander says:

      Dear Jerrod,

      I must contradict you a little, as you have proven that even if casual by the definition of the general public may not be your strong suit, you still master, without any doubt, the art of dressing well outside the office. You are most inspiring for people in more casual enviroments searching to improve their style, at least for those living on the other side of the Atlantic, where I want to send you my best regards from.

I would like to hear from you