The Quest for the Perfect Pair of Jeans
A Girl Can Dream
While shoe shopping one day, I overheard two women analyzing their potential purchases. You could tell they were long-time friends, judging by the degree of unchecked criticism and frank counsel that they were dishing out to each other: You already have two pairs of those in your closet. Why do you want a third pair? . . . That pointy toe box makes your feet look like skis . . . Your calves are going to split the seams right out of those boots. The leather will never stretch that much . . . They’re way too narrow. The tops of your feet look like rising bread loaves. It was a brutal, but seemingly fair, exchange that was a testimony to how long these two had been friends or sisters. My bet was on sisters.
Honesty is a good friend when we most need it, and there was no lack of it between these two. I must confess to a certain busybody enjoyment of their ruthless banter. It was as if they had forged an agreement – a truce of sorts – that there were to be no holds barred during their shopping outings.
These two are the kind of friends you want to have with you when shopping. After all, there are times when we are utterly blind to our own fashion blunders, and we need some fashion police brutality to intervene on our behalf and to temper the well-meaning encouragement from any salespeople.
[I can still hear that salesperson who convinced me to buy that red miniskirt because it was just so "kicky." Do you want to guess how many times I have felt "kicky" enough to wear that skirt? You guessed it. Never.]
I was captivated by their banter, so I covertly tailed them for a few more minutes into the handbag department. The shorter woman, a veritable font of life and fashion wisdom, was on a roll. Holding up a handbag that would carry not a Chihuahua but a basset hound, she said that the #1 reason women love buying shoes and handbags so much is that shoes and handbags always fit. They are reliable. They will remain loyal, no matter what weight fluctuations you and your fickle body have to weather.
I heartily agree with these two seasoned shoppers that shoes, boots, and handbags are my friends. But I am also thinking that the two legs of my favorite pair of jeans are the in-home equivalent of these two honest sisters.
Our jeans just don’t lie. They fit or they don’t. What was once a pair of super-cute-on-me Skinny Jeans can morph into our Dream-the-Impossible-Dream Jeans. It saddens us when our beloved jeans get bumped into a new and unwelcome category. The truth hits hard when we opt for those expensive, stretchy yoga pants that resemble faux-jeans, rather than slipping into that cute pair of button fly Levi’s. We’re busted. We are left feeling devastated and a little confused as to what the heck could have happened – choosing to ignore the empty bag of cheesy puffs in the garbage. Case closed.
I think we all have our different categories for jeans, pants, slacks, trousers, jeggings – call them what you will – in our closet and dresser drawers. Here are my top categories . . . and believe me, I have at least one pair for every category of what I’ll call bottoms:
1. Power Pants: This is a broad category of bottoms with no fasteners to excessively bind or pinch any muffin top . . . yoga pants, jeggings, leggings, work out pants, heck, even cute pajama bottoms fit into this category.
2. Cut Your Losses & Donate: Admit it. You are never ever going to fit into bottoms from this category ever again. You might as well get rid of any reminder that this ain’t happening. Just do it. Put them in a bag and drop them off at your local donation center. Afterward, it will feel like recovering from surgery, but you’ll feel so much better when it’s over and you have them out of the house.
3. Dream the Impossible Dream: These jeans are caught in a loop somewhere between La La Land and One Can Dream. It’s okay. Keep them if it makes you feel better. No one is judging.
4. The Beauty of Spanx: These aren’t quite legit as bottoms per se. Still, if they help you squeeze into La La Land for a limited time period? I say go for it. Consider them to be accessories to your bottoms.
5. Not Quite Yet: Oh, so close. I can almost fit (read: squeeze) into this pair . . . especially so if I could magically perform liposuction and get rid of the belly fat that is rolling over the waist band. Wait, I think this is what tunic tops are for.
6. Getting Closer: A girl can dream. And keep on believing. Now, put that bag of Doritos away or I’ll slap your hand.
7. Super Fugly but Serviceable: Everyone hates this category. Everyone. Still, we do nothing to rid the closet of them as they are the necessary fallback that we all rely on. These are the functional options that fall into the subcategories of ill-fitting khakis, front-pleat trousers, hideous capris that look good on no one, and elastic-waisted fake-jeans. You keep them simply because they fit sort of okay and will do in a pinch in the event you get a job interview or are obligated to attend your boss’ Christmas Chorale.
8. Mom Jeans: I don’t think I need to say more. Yes, yes. I know. Mom Jeans are making a comeback. Yes, their relaxed fit makes them super comfy. I still contend they only look good on a size 2 or smaller. Do they look good on me? I'll give you one guess.
9. Skinny Jeans: I think that these are the gold standard for jeans. They are the jeans that just look good and that feel good when you wear them and are the gift that keeps on giving. Even as you are putting them on, you just know that you have arrived. You love these jeans. They fit. They are comfy. They don't have a saggy bottom or crotch. They represent how you want to show up in the world.
Fast forward to the present . . .
Glass of chardonnay in hand, I have been browsing online for a new pair of winter boots. I add this pair and that pair to the cart, knowing that I will need to perform The Ultimate Edit prior to clicking “confirm order.” I consider tabbing to “Jeans” and doing some dreaming but I know from previous experience that finding a good-fitting pair of jeans online has become my white whale . . . my holy grail . . . my brass ring.
Still, you Perfect Jeans, I am not giving up on you. Until then, I will continue through the five stages of denim:
“Life is too short to stress about fitting into a pair of skinny jeans,” said no one ever (with maybe the exception of the person who fits into a size 4 or under). I wish I could consult with those two sisters who I followed around the store that day. They would tell me what jeans to buy and how they honestly look on me. I might flinch under their advice but, at this point, I think I'm ready. I can handle it.
I must admit that sometimes facing the brutal truth is part of pursuing a quest in life. Still, Skinny Jeans, you are on my radar. Today is just not our day. Instead, I tuck in my muffin top, pull on an oversized tunic top, and straighten my shoulders. Life is good. I am good. Today is going to be a good day.
About the author
Kennedy Farr is a daily diarist, a lifelong learner, a dog lover, an educator, a tree lover, & a true believer that the best way to travel inward is to write with your feet: Take the leap of faith. Put both feet forward. Just jump. Believe.