The Great Jeans Search of 2005

Two weekends ago, I drove home to my parents’ to have some dental work done (a totally different story into which I will dive at a later time). During my 24-hour stay, my mother was gracious enough to take me shopping for new jeans. She seems to have figured out that I rarely buy clothing on a whim anymore, and, after the undergarment incident last winter, she now knows that when I say “I need new ______,” I mean “I need it,” not “I want it!”

This is true for me in the jeans department. I presently own two pairs of jeans. One pair, my current favorites, is starting to get a bit threadbare. A small hole is wearing on the inseam, and the cuffs are getting fairly ragged. The other pair is now used for housework when no one else is around, since the holes under the back pockets have grown so large that my rump is clearly visible in all its glory. Since I work in fairly respectable places, denim with holes of any size are frowned upon.

Since I wear jeans a lot (pretty much every day I can), I honestly wear through them. I have to go shopping for jeans just about every year or so. And thus began The Great Jeans Search of 2005.

I’m a fairly simple girl who knows what she wants; I don’t want something risqué, but I also don’t want grandma pants that come up to my navel. Given these simple requirements, I have to say that shopping for “regular” jeans has become one of the most difficult tasks I have yet encountered in my relatively young life. I’ve known this for years; I get a headache every year when I shop for jeans. I don’t think they actually make “normal” jeans anymore! Here are the troubles that I ran into on this particular excursion:

  1. Current trends. For some insane reason, the style nowadays is to don $70 denim that appears to have been run over by a tank in a mine field. There are holes, the most vital areas of coverage have been worn through, and dirt and dust seems to be encrusted in the fabric. My jeans look like this right now; that’s why I want a new pair!
  2. Additional decorations. A new obstacle for 2005! I finally found some jeans that didn’t look like they belonged to a construction worker. Much to my dismay, every single pair in this store, no matter what the brand, was embroidered in some fashion with sequins and beads, or neon pink stitching around the pockets. These are pants for grown women, but they are as tacky as something I would have worn when I was too young to know any better.
  3. The length. I just have one thing to say about this: Not every woman with my waistline stands 6′5″.  And the most vexing issue of all…
  4. The fit. Like many other people, I am most concerned with the fit of the jeans. They must fit snugly around my tush, gradually flaring out towards the ankle, but not so tight around the waist that they chafe my hips raw. This is one of the reasons why I don’t buy Old Navy jeans anymore. While they are perfectly nice jeans, we’ve just grown apart; either their fits have changed, or my body is changed (which is probably much more likely). One size fits wonderfully around my butt, but is so small around the waist that I can’t even button them. The next size up is perfectly fitted to my waist, but balloons out around the derrière. But good for Old Navy, who caters to women with butts.

Stores like Express finally seem to understand that not all of us have figures like 14 year-olds or supermodels. Most adult women have hips! And so they are now catering to that market, offering “Slim Fit,” “Regular Fit,” and the new “Curvy Fit.” Ooooooh…curvy.

Here’s the problem: I tried on each of these fits. I am still scratching my head trying to determine the physical difference between them. Also, it doesn’t help the cause when the only types of jeans offered within these already confining limits are “Low Rise” and “Ultra Low Rise.”

I finally ended up at The Gap: the same store at which I end up every single year. Excluding the three- or four-year black hole of a decline in the quality, The Gap has been a long-time favorite of mine, offering the only jeans that really fit me correctly and comfortably. I am saddened to report that they, too, have followed like lemmings and began a new line of “Curvy” jeans, but there is a light in the darkness! The Gap still has “Original Fit!” That’s right: normal fitting, undecorated, new-looking jeans that cover my entire butt and don’t trip me when I walk, complete with my choice of washes. And the best part was that they were on sale!

I should have listened to my gut and gone there first.

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