Skinny, Ultra Skinny, Need-A-Crowbar-To-Remove Skinny: Why It’s Impossible To Shop For Jeans

Not all shopping is done on-line, people. Some of it is done in the outskirts of town at the great American spectacle that is the outlet mall.

And I found my way to one earlier this week in semi-rural Illinois.  I was mostly shopping for myself other people’s Christmas gifts, but I also happened to try on a few pairs of jeans, since you all convinced me I didn’t own nearly enough pairs (except for Naptime Writing, whose logic is impeccable.)

Jeans have always been scary to shop for– I could easily end up in a shame spiral thanks to too-tight denim and a three-way mirror.  Sure, you can argue that swim wear is worse, considering that the three-way mirror is enlisted to highlight all kinds of pasty skin in places that don’t see the light of day when I am looking for jeans.

But there’s just something about denim.

And these days jeans are the worst item to shop for because you need a frigging matrix just to understand what you are trying on.  How is the layperson (that is, someone whose paycheck does not come from Gap, Inc. or any other place in the mall) supposed to know the difference between (1) super skinny, (2) ultra skinny, (3) super deluxe skinny, and (4) may-sterilize-you skinny?  Excuse me, but WTF?  Am I supposed watch You Tube videos about jeans before walking in to J. Crew so I will understand the nuances among their different cuts.  Do you know the difference between (1) match stick, (2) toothpick, (3) kindling sticks, and (4) stick-up-your-ass?

Because I don’t.

I was ready to impale myself on the metal fixture displaying velvet holiday blazers before I ever stepped foot underneath those flaw-enhancing fitting room lights.

It made my head hurt to stand in Banana Republic and wonder if the skinny leg was skinnier than the “almost jegging”– and those were the mens’s jeans.  Don’t get me started on the boot cut-boot fit dichotomy.  In one store, boot cut jeans are for wearing boots under your jeans, while the boot fit jeans are for wearing your jeans over your boots. Right next door, it’s the opposite.

This has to stop.  I don’t want to think that hard when I am simply looking for a 13th nice pair of jeans that (1) I can tuck into my boots, (2) won’t make my ass look like two (or more) jumbo marshmallows stuffed in a cheese cloth, (3) won’t accentuate my bad haircut, (4) will allow me to crawl on the floor to pick up and eat the food my kids drop without giving all of God’s creation a view of my bare ass, and (5) will still look fresh even on the fifth day in a row of wearing without washing.  Is that too much to ask?

I don’t want to have to do a fricking LSAT practice exam trying to figure out whether the ultra skinny, which is the second skinniest, will or will not guarantee a camel toe in the dressing room, but will relax to the point of “baggy” after fifteen minutes of wear.

THIS– this extra work to get so-called real pants while the clock is ticking on my babysitter time may be why moms wear yoga pants.  It’s not (only) to hide muffin tops or to ward off all sexual attention because our sex drive disappeared before the first Twilight movie.  No! It’s because jeans shopping requires a G-D semiotics degree.

Let’s work on this.  Make it simpler so I can save my brain power for worrying about the fiscal cliff and obsessing about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy.


53 thoughts on “Skinny, Ultra Skinny, Need-A-Crowbar-To-Remove Skinny: Why It’s Impossible To Shop For Jeans

  1. Muchas grASSias for the post. I hated jeans back then and I detest them now. They just don’t make jeans for flat, square butts, I suppose (assholes). I walk past Gap, BR mannequins and ask, “who the heck wears those sizes . . . in Texas of all places?” Geesh. Thanks for the post. C.S. Lewis said, “you read to know that you’re not alone.” Peace out.

  2. I was seriously sitting down to write a very similar post this morning with more emphasis on the boot tucking trend and these 80’s colored jeggings that blow my mind. I’m glad I saw yours first, but now I don’t know what to post today! I tried on some jeans yesterday trying to find something to wear to a Christmas party this weekend, and it was terrible.

  3. You are right on about this. Now can you also do a post about how sizes are so skewed? You know, like in the same store, I might be a size 10 in one pair of pants and a size 4 in another.

  4. I have three pairs of jeans, only one the dreaded name of skinny, which I just lent, then gave, to my 12-year-old daughter WHO FIT THEM, SERIOUSLY, UNIVERSE? I think I did a dramatic wall slide while fighting the air with my fists.

  5. I cannot believe you were in Banana Republic trying on jeans. I can’t even think about Banana Republic without experiencing a shame spiral because my ARM won’t fit into the legs of their pants, much less all the junk I’m packing in my trunk.

    I own about 15 pairs of pants but have two favorite I interchange: One from Old Navy–the Diva fit, and one from Victoria’s Secret. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they wear out because trying on jeans since the birth of the baby almost 10 freakin’ months ago is akin to water boarding in my book.

  6. I. Hate. Clothes. Shopping.

    Best line of the post: the ditty about impaling yourself on the metal fixture with velvet holiday blazers. Because I feel that way every time I acquiesce to my mom’s entreaties that I *please* get some new clothes. As though velvet blazers are somehow better than three year old maternity pants with holes in them.


  7. I’ve been thinking about writing a post about this exact same thing! Mine would include this certain gem: I discovered the origins of the camel toe the other day. The camel toe comes from trying to hike your super duper ultra low rise skinny jeans (or other pants) up high enough to cover up your muffin top.

  8. Might I recommend the 1968 skinny jeans from the Gap for wearing under boots? They’re the only ones I’ve found that aren’t too skinny and come up high enough (but not too high!) that I don’t worry about pedaling crack when I’m sitting on the floor with my kids. (And you can always order online and try at home/return for free to avoid those nasty mirrors. Shudder.)

  9. Love it! I’m surrounded by Moms who, when they aren’t wearing yoga pants, wear $200 jeans. In theory, I could buy them if it were important to me, but it’s not. I can’t fathom spending that much on jeans. For fun once, I tried some on and you know what? Gap jeans fit me better, ha!

  10. First – jeggings are the worst thing ever. Or at least they look like the worst thing ever on the people I’ve seen them on. Second – No woman EVER went into a store and was shocked by how many pairs of jeans fit her AND made her ass look awesome. If there ever were such a woman, all other women clawed her eyes out.

  11. YES YES, HELL YES! I frickin need a degree to figure out how to buy a pair of jeans! And uh, skinny jeans, don’t make most people look skinny… hello! What is wrong with designers?! I think their jeans are too tight, cutting off the circulation to their brains.

  12. This is why the last several pairs of jeans I’ve purchased have been the same pair. Same store, same style (different sizes.) I want to try some new styles, but UGH jean shopping.

  13. Frankly I think #5 is key here. Because the entire point of jeans, as I understand it, has to do with their washlessness. I mean, if you have to wash those mofos, why bother?

  14. May I just say, I heart this blog! I stumbled on it a few days ago, after reading your guest post on Scary Mommy’s blog, and you are seriously awesome! That, and this jeans post is ever-so-appropriate, because today I am wearing a brand-spankin’-new pair of jeans to work, jeans that I bought in my never-ending quest for jeans that are forgiving enough for my size 8 frame, but also skinny enough in the leg that I would be able to tuck them into riding boots without the dreaded bunching around the knee.

    In the store, they actually fit like a dream (after I tried on 11 other pairs) and flattered in all the right places. Today, after I have taken all the tags off and thrown away the receipt, they are starting to bunch at the knees.

  15. Boot Cut = Wear the jeans outside the boots. Also, the only style of jeans that looks good on me. I love my boot cut jeans!

  16. Oh lord, do I feel you on this! My biggest culture shock during my trip back to the states this year was the ubiquity of skinny jean/jeggings. Going shopping for a pair was utterly baffling and I think the woman at the Gap was making up answers to my very fair questions on the difference between ultraskinny and sexyhipster or whatever it was. OK. I think we should just get down to brass tacks here and call them what we all want to know – “jeans for pear shaped ladies” “jeans for no-hip chicks” “jeans for big girls” etc… Just let me know if this pair makes someone of my body type’s butt look good.

  17. I buy my jeans at Costco…I scored Not Your Daughter’s Jeans there. I don’t ever look at myself in a mirror. I know how they/I look…hideous. I am more concerned about whether or not I can button them.

  18. Hold up! Are you telling me I can no longer rely on the boot cut jean? That good old staple I can wear OVER my boots. Because I don’t need anything (like the skinny-anything cut jeans) gripping my cankles. This is ridiculous.

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