Tuesday, November 9, 2004

If The Jeans Fit

I recently had so much trouble buying a new pair of jeans that fit me comfortably, I honestly began to think there was something wrong with my anatomy.

Years ago, buying jeans was simple. You’d walk into the store, find your size, and seeing that jeans came in only one style, if they fit, you bought them. And even if they didn’t fit exactly right, you still bought them. If they were too long, you’d wear them cuffed up. If you were a young kid, you’d wear them cuffed up twice, until you grew a couple more inches.

Well, when I walked into the jeans section of a department store a couple weeks ago, my first thought was that I should have brought an interpreter. The jeans were grouped by categories: baggy, relaxed fit, oxygen-required fit, boot cut, flare-leg, western fit, hip huggers, bell bottoms, low rise, high rise, and talk-in-a-higher-voice rise.

I was so confused, I did the only logical thing a woman in my situation could do…I grabbed the first pair of jeans I found in my size. They were black and “relaxed fit.” I figured that with a name like “relaxed,” they had to be comfortable. I tried them on, the way I usually try things on when I’m in a hurry; I stood in the aisle, held the jeans up against my waist and said, “Yeah, they’ll fit.”

When I got home, I modeled my new jeans for my husband. His expression was less than encouraging.

“They look like those old-fashioned riding pants women used to wear in John Wayne movies,” he said. “You know, the kind that balloon out at the hips and then are real tight from the knees down. And they’re too long - they’re all scrunched up around your ankles.”

I frowned at him. Riding jodhpurs were not exactly the look I’d been going for. And the last thing I needed was something that made my hips look “balloony.” I wasn’t about to be nicknamed “Hidenburg Hips Breslin.”

But even if the jeans had fit right, I probably wouldn’t have kept them anyway. I learned all too quickly that black jeans attract every lint ball and dog hair within a 10-mile radius. In just the five short minutes I wore them, I looked as if I’d spent the afternoon emptying the lint trap of the clothes dryer...directly onto my pants.

After giving the jeans a good brushing, I returned them to the store and got a refund. I decided it might be a good idea to actually try on the next pair before I bought them. I grabbed two pairs of hip huggers. I’m very high waisted, so I figured hip huggers would make me look as if I had a longer torso. I also figured they’d be perfect for me because the jeans would have plenty of hip to hug.

I tried on the first pair and stared at my reflection in the mirror. The jeans looked pretty good from the front. Then I turned around and looked over my shoulder at the back. Two inches of underwear showed above the jeans. I bent over. Four inches of underwear showed. All I can say is thank goodness I was wearing my “granny panties” or I’d have seen a sight in the mirror that might have blinded me for life. I tried to pull the jeans up higher, but only succeeded in giving myself a major wedgie.

Frustrated, I asked a sales clerk which jeans were the most similar to the ones everyone wore back in the 1960s. She said the classic fit, which made sense.

So I searched for a pair of the classic-fit jeans in my size and tried them on.
The minute I zipped and buttoned them, I breathed a sigh of relief. They fit exactly the way I wanted them to. The only problem was, when the jeans reached my shins, they abruptly ended. From mid-shin to my ankles, my legs were bare.

I walked out of the dressing room. “Where are the rest of the legs on these?” I asked the clerk.

“Those are cropped jeans,” she said. “They are all the rage right now.”

“Where? In flood plains?”

She wasn’t amused.

Finally, after I’d tried on so many jeans I was suffering from denim burn on my thighs, I bought a pair of medium-rise, boot-cut, stretch jeans. At least they covered most of my backside and my ankles, and when I bent over, they actually stretched to the full width of my hips without begging for mercy.

The other day, I was telling one of my friends about my shopping experience and she suggested, in a roundabout way, that perhaps I should forego the jeans and T-shirts and start dressing more appropriately for my age.

I’m not exactly sure what she meant, but I suspect it may involve support hose and polyester pants pulled all the way up to my bra.