How to Shop for Jeans

Pull out the packet of photos from college (you know the one). You always meant to put them into an album. Gaze longingly of the photo of yourself, age 20, at the bowling alley. You bought those jeans at a thrift store, maybe, or borrowed them from your friend and never gave them back. You don’t even know what brand they were. They fit perfectly. A little too long, maybe, but they were made back when straight leg meant straight leg, and you cuffed them just so.

They don’t make jeans like that anymore.

Think of your college roommate. Not the first one who you hated, the girl who’d never been away from home before and went a little too wild when given the freedom of dormitory life. You don’t have to forgive her for having loud sex four feet away from you, or for locking you out the next time she wanted to have sex. Not her, but the girl you moved in with the next semester; the one who was your roommate during your internship, who loved Led Zeppelin and called you “Pixie” because you were so much shorter than her. Remember the time you borrowed clothing from her, and how funny it was. She never wore jeans. Maybe you should stop wearing jeans.

Reluctantly go to the mall.

Wonder who it was that you went bowling with that day. The boys from down the hall with the car that smelled like leaky exhaust? The girls from upstairs who you sometimes played cards with? Remember playing cards? Maybe it was the terrible roommate and that’s why you don’t remember anymore.

Your choices are the popular chain with inexpensive jeans that stretch out, the department store with mom jeans, or the expensive trendy place. Spin the wheel of fortune to choose where you’ll try first.

You’ll be tempted to just go to the popular, inexpensive store and call it a day. You wouldn’t even have to try them on. $36 and you’re out the door ($20 if there’s a sale on).

The department store won’t have anything that fits. You’ll bring a couple of styles in a range of sizes into the dressing room, but nothing will fit. You’ll try the men’s department. You used to wear men’s jeans. They will be comically awful, the pants equivalent of clown shoes.

The trendy store will be a disaster. It’s out of your price range, the salesgirl won’t help you, they don’t carry your size range, or everything will be so low rise you might as well be naked.

Go to the cheap chain store.

Now you’re angry. Why didn’t you just go here in the first place? You always wind up here. You decide to try on different styles. Maybe you have to replace your jeans so often because you just aren’t buying the right style. You try boyfriend jeans again. You’ve tried them before. They never fit like actual boyfriend jeans. Oh, that’s where the college jeans came from! You remember now.

This time they fit perfectly. And you can fit your entire hand in the pocket. Miracle. You buy them. Full price, but you don’t even mind. You’ll buy a second pair next pay period.

They are the perfect jeans for 1.5 days. Then the 10% spandex gives up the ghost and they stretch beyond recognition. You wash and dry them in the machines, hoping to return to the perfection you had so briefly. It’s no good.

You go back, thinking you will buy a size down this time. You can’t get them over your hips. You look all over for jeans without spandex. You find them in the men’s section. The legs are a foot and a half too long. Your arm goes into the pocket to the elbow. They’re $42 but will cost $70 to have tailored. You think about those college jeans again.

You buy a skirt instead.