I need new jeans. I hate that. Shopping is one of my least favorite things and clothes shopping is the worst. But my four pairs of old jeans are all fraying and the knee of one blew out yesterday. Just dissolved like tired tissue paper. So I need to start looking because I wear jeans every day and it’s clear that by the end of the summer I will be in rags.
I prefer to buy clothes on sale and in bulk. If I am lucky enough to find something that fits me I tend to buy a bunch. Jeans, Lands’ End turtlenecks, Bass outlet t-shirts, Jockey-for-her underwear, whatever. Once I found my favorite bras were being discontinued by Jockey and were marked down at the clearance outlet in Lake George from $24 to $3.99 each. I had the store send me all of them available in upstate New York! (It was a comforting feeling to be rich in bras… but five years later I’m getting to the bottom of that shipping box.)
The only downside to buying by the half-dozen is that eventually entropy seems to happen all at once. I will be bumbling along in a fool’s paradise and suddenly one day every single pair of underpants I pull on will be parting from its elastic waistband. Or the neck and cuffs of each shirt will be fraying. Or every pair of jeans will have developed holes at the tacks of the back pockets, be white at the knee, and have shredded at the hem. Or all my socks will have worn through at the heels. Obviously this is the time to discard and buy new but my dislike of clothes shopping inevitably makes me put off the evil day as long as possible.
Occasionally I have required intervention. The last time my big sister visited she exclaimed, “Sel! Throw away that shirt!” DH has been even more direct. If I’m wearing a particularly disreputable pair of worn-out jeans he has been known to give me a hug, slip his hands into my two back pockets, bunch his fists, and rip the jeans in half.
My problem in buying jeans is that my shape is not very feminine. I have no waist. I am not an hourglass, I’m a 2×4. Straight up and down. Thus, generally, if I buy women’s jeans and get them to fit my hips, the waist is so small I cannot breathe and I’ll have a purple welt around my middle. If I get them to fit my waist, the hips are enormous and balloon on each side like jodhpurs. Then there is the basic fit. I once said to my brother-in-law, “I like my jeans to be loose.” “I noticed,” Don said dryly.
About fifteen years ago I discovered Eddie Bauer Loose Fit jeans. Perfect! Easy waist, loose in the leg. I’d buy them at outlets. But something has happened at Eddie Bauer. First they discontinued colors. Then they cheapened the fabric, substituting flimsy denim of half the weight. Then — horrors — they added elastic. Now they’ve discontinued the line altogether. Eek! All the new jeans seem to be tight with low waists.
I hate low waists. I don’t like the feeling that I’m going to lose my pants when I bend over.
The obvious solution is to go to men’s jeans, as I did before Eddie Bauer. But that means actually driving to a mall (at least an hour away) and trying on various styles for size. Just the thought makes me wilt.
Instead I tried ordering some Carhartt pants from an online warehouse outlet. Carhartt is a workwear manufacturer. Half the people you see building roads or on construction sites are in Carhartts. The pants are double-fronted, with rivets, and wear like iron. Feel like iron, too. The duck material is so tough and heavy it barely bends when you first put them on. I love them.
Sierra Trading Post carries Carhartts, even women’s Carhartts. Even in tall sizes. Last night my order finally arrived and I tried on a pair. Oh, dear. Carhartt, how could you? The women’s pants have been re-designed with a low waist. Obviously the ladies in hard hats holding SLOW signs on the highway want to look more fetching than I do. And of course are younger, with flat bikini bellies, not middle-aged sag.
Sigh. The Carhartts will have to go back. And I’ll have to keep looking.