Finding well-fitting jeans has always been something of a struggle for me. It’s no secret that I’ve, to use the clichéd but apt phrase, struggled with my weight. A lot. And for several years. I’ve pretty well got it under control now, but there’s no changing my body type, even now. I am, to put it delicately, thick-waisted. It’s pretty much a straight shot from under my arms down to mid-thigh on both sides of my body. On my skinnier days, maybe I’m a bit more concave, but not notably. As such, I have to buy low-rise pants, because, being that my waist does not nip inward nicely, or even much at all, they sit comfortably on my hips without the hems dragging on the floor and tripping me up, and/or without being incredibly baggy because I had to buy a size or two up to ensure that they’d fit in the first place.
Now, our story begins…
It’s the post-Christmas sales. I notice JCPenney has jeans on clearance. I’ve had good luck there before, I’m in desperate need of new jeans, and strapped for cash, so the deal is too much to resist.
About a half-hour’s work and about 6 pairs of jeans tried on later, I’m content to purchase a new pair of junior’s super-low-rise jeans. They’re a little long and a little loose being the size up from mine, which had already been cleared out, but I figure they’ll shrink up in the wash. I’m actually most annoyed about the pockets—their lack of depth leaves me wondering if I can even squeeze my lip balm in one, much less my half-brick of a phone.
A couple days and a wash later, I’m walking around in these jeans. I’m sitting down in them. And I feel… kinda bad about them. The hems drag, the waistband is still loose on me—I feel like I’m swimming in them, practically, and this is something I have almost never felt before. I scrounge for the tags and leave to return the jeans, hoping against hope that my size will have magically appeared, and I can just go home.
No such luck. Clearance means clearance in this case, and the only merchandise they’re clearing out, they already have on the floor. I try on about 10 other pairs of different brands, avoiding like the plague those that are supposed to sit at the waist. None of them work—about half of them, I can’t even pull over my hips for fear that I’ll tear the comparatively gauzy fabric. (Because clearly, just denim would never do—we must weaken it with cotton and embellishments and rayon! Okay, rayon’s fine—makes ‘em stretchy.) The ones closest to fitting have “artful” rips and runs, and some include some embroidery on the back pockets I just cannot put up with. Defeated, I return the pair I’d originally bought and leave.
On my way back, I head to a local department store on a whim. They tend to have good clothing—maybe I’ll find something there! Their major brand-name jeans (Lees and Levis) are the same sort as the ones I encountered in the mall. I don’t even bother until I find some marked mid-rise, which is better than everything else I’ve encountered so far. I grab a pair of those in a couple sizes likely to fit, and head to juniors’ jeans, which produces a few distinct possibilities.
Or so I think. I get to the dressing room, and one pair turns out to be skinny jeans. They look fine on some people, but not on me, and I pretty much refuse to buy any pants that are not bootcut. Another four either are too baggy around the legs or can’t even get past my hips (the one drawback to wearing juniors’ jeans—they rarely take large hips that taper to normal-sized legs into account), and the last—the Lees—fit well enough, but do pinch a little at the waistband. Figuring they’re better than nothing, I gather those and head back to juniors’ to sort through a little more of the jumble. Another couple pairs later, I realize I’m exhausted and it’s been an hour and a half and I cannot for the life of me find a more suitable pair of jeans than the Lees.
I give up. I shuffle dejectedly towards the front of the store, Lees in hand. They may have been the best pick, but the skin above my hips chafes a little at the mere thought of pinching as I break them in. And then, a rack of pants I’ve neglected to look at catches my eye with a sign proclaiming its wares (I will point out that “wares” was edited from “wears”, which I find hilarious) fifty percent off. I know that in the world of pants, this could mean I’ll still pay $150 for them, but, unable to resist the bargain, I take a closer look. The rack holds Dickies work jeans for women. “Work” probably means “sturdy”, I figure, so I run my hand over a pair. They’re rough, but gentle at the same time. In other words, sturdy, as I’d thought. I skim over the sizes available, noting that most are likely too big for me unless Dickies runs a size or two smaller than most brands. And then, the holy grail—three pairs in the three sizes most likely to fit me! I grab them, hold them in front of me experimentally, and muster up the energy for one last trip to the dressing room.
Inside, I cautiously pull on the middle-sized pair of jeans, nearly crowing with delight as they slide on easily over the leggings I often wear under jeans when it’s cold outside. They’re exceedingly easy to button, and so I tug at the waistband where it sits just above my hips, pulling it out experimentally to see if these jeans might just fall right off of me, warranting a smaller size. The legs are a little long, and so I am relieved when it seems I can attempt the smallest size I’ve acquired. I quickly change pairs, and nearly text everyone in my contacts out of sheer happiness when they fit perfectly, flattering my figure over my leggings. I crouch and jump and stretch to make sure they fit, nearly squealing in pure joy each time these jeans do my bidding without sliding to show my underwear, or pinching my belly, or causing me any sort of grief in general.
Now, for the final test. I stick my hand in its pocket. It keeps going. And going. And going for miles, it seems. (Really, it’s only about six inches deep, but I dare you to find any other women’s pants that are not cargoes with pockets that deep. There’s a reason women’s pants pockets are considered a joke in and of themselves!) By now, I am nearly bawling in ecstasy. Okay, not really, but I am on cloud nine. These perfectly-fitting pants are a privilege to wear, one I’ve long felt unworthy of thanks to body image issues even after making it to a healthy size. These pockets will fit the phone I will purchase when my contract expires next, one in the category of “phablet”—half phone, half tablet—and it is a honker, let me tell ya!
I nearly skip to the cashier. I can hardly pay for my jeans and race home fast enough. And now, here I sit, comfy in my jeans with my phone and lip balm in my pocket and gleefully pondering just how many more things I might be able to cram in before it bursts. The perfect pair of jeans is so hard to come by, but, by some miracle, Christmas or otherwise, I’ve found mine.