There are few things as daunting as buying jeans.
I don’t buy jeans frequently enough to buy the same kind twice. By the time I’m ready for a new pair of jeans, whatever I’ve been wearing is unavailable, out of style, or both.
Of course there are sizes on jeans, but the sizes mean nothing. They are only intended to provide some sort of rough orientation. It would be like saying you know how to find your grandmother’s house in Texas because you know how to get to Texas. Chances are, you are nowhere close. But even if I find a size that fits, I will face difficulties.
Jeans with a waistband that comes anywhere near the waist are called “high-rise” jeans, though they used to be called “mom jeans” because “low-rise” jeans were popular for a long time. In order to keep selling new jeans, the low-rise got lower and lower until the zipper was approximately one inch long and its purpose was difficult to ascertain.
The obvious problem with this design is that if you try to hang something off the widest part of your body, there isn’t much incentive for it to stay there.
Wearing these jeans meant constantly pulling them up before they slipped any farther down. But for a long time these were about the only jeans you could buy, and so I went along with it and joined the legions of women hiking up their jeans as they walked down the street.
The only reason low-rise jeans defied gravity at all was because they had spandex in them. This became more and more extreme until some jeans had no denim left in them at all. These are called “jeggings,” an unholy union between leggings and jeans. Designed to be mistaken for jeans from a distance, they were really just elastic pants in disguise.
I am not opposed to a little spandex. My husband, Peter, wears “selvage” jeans, which are made with denim of the original heavy weight, when jeans were intended for doing hard work—even harder than walking down the street trying to keep your pants up. Peter bought me a pair, but I have not worn them. New selvage jeans are so stiff I can’t bend my knees or sit down. If I wore them for an evening out, I’d have to be propped up in a corner.
“They’ll get softer as you wear them!” Peter insists. I’m not sure I’ll live that long.
But because low-rise jeans were popular for so long, high-rise jeans are now in fashion. They are no longer called “mom jeans,” because moms are presumably still struggling to keep low-rise jeans from slipping off their hips.
The fact that high-rise jeans are now worn by everyone under 30 has the more fashion-conscious itching to go back to low-rise jeans, but there has been some push-back. One fashion reviewer wrote how she was “traumatized by low-rise jeans.” I don’t know how much power a pair of pants should have, but I’m pretty sure that is too much.
Yesterday, I pulled my old jeans out of the closet. They had never traumatized me, but I am a little tired of always having to yank them up. As an older person, no one expects me to be on trend, but I’m thinking a pair of jeans that is less inclined to work its way down toward my ankles would be a nice change. All I have to do is sift through several dozen pairs until I find one that fits.
Jeggings are sounding better all the time.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.