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Adventures in Denim

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I just came to a profound realization in the last month.

There is nothing as irritating and mind-bogglingly annoying as shopping for a decent pair of blue jeans.

Gone are the days when I had a closet full of denim. Although I still have my first pair of once-jeans-now-cut-offs from when I was twelve (and they still fit!), I’ve grown to harbor a mild disinterest in denim. At my age, maturity dictates an upgrade to the standard casual uniform. I now gravitate toward khakis, with an occasional yoga pant thrown in for comfort. In the winter, I like the buttery feel and protection afforded by leather, and the warmth of flannel-lined pants.

Still, it’s nice to have two pairs of jeans in the closet. One pair should be the gently washed favorite for kicking back, where no one can see the flaws in fade, cut or bottom. These are perfect for walking the dog or spending an afternoon digging in the garden. The other should be “dressy” for going out in public. Throw a nice blazer over them and you look like a million bucks.

My main problem with shopping is that I despise it, especially the type that involves getting in your car, going to the mall, and meandering through retail establishments in brick-and-mortar buildings. If I had time to while away – which I don’t – I still wouldn’t do it. I do not care for rude fellow shoppers, I don’t like surly sales clerks, and I especially am not fond of bouncing from store to store in an attempt to find decent clothing at a decent price. I have friends and relatives who make it a day at the mall, but not me.

I especially abhor trying on clothes. Let’s face it, store dressing rooms are creepy, and the knowledge that store security has an eye on the various stages of my undress makes me sick. The internet saved me and the bottom lines of several well-known retailers. If I can’t buy it online, I’m probably not going to buy it.

I’m also a tightwad and can rarely see paying more than $20 for anything. I should embrace the sales racks at Kohl’s, but I can’t handle the stimulation of too much stuff crammed together.

But I needed a new pair of jeans. When there are holes in your butt and the legs are worn through, it’s time.

My second-to-last pair happened to be Calvin Kleins, purchased at Sam’s Club. They fit perfectly and were $20. My last pair were Levis purchased from Sam’s at the same price. My only complaint with them was that they are low-rise.

Wearing low-rise pants of any type should not be attempted by anyone with hips or stomachs, much less anyone in my age bracket. I used to wear such pants back in the ‘70’s when they were called hip-huggers. Of course, I had a boyish figure back then, no hips and just a small pooch of a stomach, which is the only way you can pull off the look. Anything more, and we’re talking muffin tops, camel toes, and sausage-stuffed rear ends.

But the reign of low-rise seemed to last an awfully long time.

I’m no fashion diva, but I like to look good. I’m not trendy and consider my tastes to lean toward the classically eclectic. (Boho always comes around and goes around. Take my word for it.) Granted, I am old(er), but I don’t think I’m ready for “mom” jeans yet. All I want is a smooth fit in front. Do not look to Ralph Lauren for that, since their pants have more than enough frontal material. Perhaps they are catering to the big-stomach set. I need enough material between my waist and hips so that when I sit down, the back end of my underwear isn’t exposed for the entire world to see. Two-and-a-half-inch zippers mean the wearer will have to get her private area discreetly shaved. Not for me. I don’t need much, just a decent pair of jeans.

I like shopping the clearance section of internet retailers. It’s amazing the deals you can find with only a little clicking. I found a pair of jeans at Victoria’s Secret for $9 and another somewhere else for $19.99. I was familiar with the clothing of both retailers. Their sizes stay consistent, which is a plus. These were pants chosen specifically sans the dreaded “low-rise.”

The price was right, but when I received my purchases, the size was not. It appears that in the last year or so, I have blown up like a balloon to the next size up. I was barely able to zip up. Horrors! Just to make certain, I dug around in my closet for some winter favorites I knew should fit.

They did not.

Well, they did, but not comfortably. Thanks to a penchant for good food and drink and a disdain for regular exercise, along with the rigors of aging, my body has line-jumped into the next sphere of consciousness.

This, of course, meant the retail nightmare of shopping in a store to discover my “real” size, and the only way to do that is in a dressing room.

I started a month ago with my daughter. We both bemoaned the fact that jeans are sized in double digits these days – 26, 28, etc. What happened to 5, 7 and 9? Then there are the cuts to consider: boot cut, super skinny, skinny, boy cut. There are flare legs and straight legs. There are $100 jeans made to look like they had taken a hitchhiking trip to Woodstock and back, worn and torn. In the end, she walked out with half a wardrobe's worth of new clothes for college and I ended up with nothing, a normal state of affairs.

This week, I decided to hit up Nordstrom Rack. It might be discount, but it’s more than Sam’s Club in price, with a better selection. The Rack is easier to navigate than Nordstrom the Store and sometimes the discounts are deep. There were discounted Lucky Brands with a pretty damn nice fit. And they were reasonably priced.

I snapped them up. That’s right, two pair.

I’m not going back for a long, long time.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.