Flat Whites and Jeans

What do flat whites and wide-legged jeans have in common? The answer is: a lot.

But in order to envision their connection with me, you’ll need to identify the commonalities between a cup of coffee and pants — and I don’t mean the mocha-colored stains that we all see on our favorite pair of jeans.

The first time I had a flat white, I mean a real flat white, was in New Zealand in the Auckland airport. At the counter of the first shoddy airport cafe I saw, I ordered what I thought was a staple of my coffee favorites. But the steaming flat white served to me in a miniature paper cup that chilly New Zealand morning blew my Starbucks-inspired idea of flat whites out of the water.

What greeted me in that tiny paper cup was a smooth combination of espresso and layered foam, blended to silky perfection by the time I’d tilted it up to my lips. I was jet-lagged, sure, and you could argue that any cup of good coffee would be awe-inspiring at 6 a..m. But here’s the thing: I knew that this was more than just “good coffee;” this was quality coffee. It came in a different shape and size than I’d been accustomed to, but it surpassed its Americanized cousin.

Mini paper cups are now a universal symbol of a quality flat white, for me. This particular flat white was purchased in the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport.

Mini paper cups are now a universal symbol of a quality flat white, for me. This particular flat white was purchased in the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport.

Behold, the origin story of my love for high quality flat whites. And my passion for fashion was born from similar origins. As someone who has always loved the different, the unconventional, it only took one visit to the brand name online resale shop, Poshmark, before I fell in love with browsing eclectic, personal closets and collections online.

My first few purchases included Rag and Bone jeans, a New York and Company dress I never wore, and several anthropologie blouses. But the first time I stumbled across a pair of Ralph Lauren straight-legged jeans, something clicked.

Their dark wash was simple but elegant, and while I was hesitant at first to branch out into a different genre of pants than skinny jeans, I knew I wanted these beauties. So a week later, I tore open the Poshmark package and slipped into the straight-legged Ralph denim. Looking in the mirror, they seemed a little too loose around my hips, and the boot cut flair at the bottom felt out of my comfort zone. But, damn, were they still sexy.

The next day I wore them to work, a little cautiously, pairing them with a solid cream blouse french-tucked into the front. And guess what? The same “Eureka!” moment I’d experienced a few years earlier in the Auckland airport washed over me, and I realized that these wide-legged jeans were about defying my norm, and cutting a new edge in my wardrobe experience.

Ralph Lauren dark wash, straight-leg jeans, size 4. Retail: $55-$70

Ralph Lauren dark wash, straight-leg jeans, size 4. Retail: $55-$70

I’m wearing these jeans as I write this blog post, and I wish I could be drinking a flat white in Paris, but one thing is for sure: I think coffee and fashion are both some of life’s luxuries. Physical pleasures and small delights are often looked down upon as cheap, easy-come-easy-go thrills. But I am here to break through that stigma, and here is what flat whites and jeans have in common: quality and creativity.

I think it’s important to enjoy life, and if you can do it in a stellar pair of jeans, flat white in hand, more power to you.

The barista who first had the idea to put together a flat white shares the same creativity and desire to color outside the lines as the designer who stitched the first pair of straight-leg women’s jeans — and I am grateful to both.

The next time you’re tempted by an impulse to get those outrageous sunglasses you’ve had your eye on for weeks, or to treat yourself to a much-deserved latte, I hope you remind yourself that someone created them to be enjoyed, and you should do just that.