Last week, I realized that my current jeans (Old Navy Rockstar Cut "Legging Jeans") were not only two sizes too big, but also woefully worn out, to the point where the dryer no longer brought them back to life.
The combination of "wrong size" and "exhausted spandex" on my legs suggested denim Sharpei puppies, which is not as cute as it might sound. (I should probably have said “Denim bingo wings,” but let's all be glad I didn't.)
If you buy cheap denim, you know how quick the half-life is. They're basically a little sturdier than the bag you bring them home in. You buy them, they hug your ass like a champ for the first five washings, and then the slow process of jean death begins.
I have re-purchased the same jeans four times in the past year at $35 a pop, thus bringing my total annual jean expenditure up to a whopping $140.
This time around, I made a decision to seek out some premium denim that might actually last a year and look good for around the same price. It is only recently that I could even fit into anything slim cut that wasn't Old Navy, because apparently "premium denim" is only for people with a waistline under 31”, but that's another indignant article.
Here is a list of reasons why it is hard for me to find jeans that fit me:
• I live in Montpelier, Vermont. There are maybe six clothing stores and a couple of vintage shops. The population ranges from "old people" to "hippies," so it's much easier to find a pair of quilted pants or a flow-y velour shawl than a pair of dark skinny jeans.
• I am cheap, because I am a poor nonprofit employee. (Wahhh!)
• I am curvy, long-legged, and high-waisted with a high butt. It's a cute butt, but it's a lofty one.
• I have severe body dysmorphia, which is intensified by my semi-recent significant weight loss of over 90 pounds. When I try on pants, I bring five sizes into the dressing room because I have no idea what my body looks like.
• Dressing rooms give me the clammy sweats.
Still, the sad jeggings situation called for pretty urgent attention, so I hit the streets of the Smallest Capital City in America to find a pair of expensive leg tubes. I stopped in at almost every store that carried denim and tried on at least six pairs in every one: Citizens, 7's, Hudson, J Brand... The results were frustrating.
It felt like everything was made for shorter waists, straighter hips, shorter legs. Now, keep in mind that I'm sort of “crazy” and have “body issues” but I honestly felt my body getting bigger with every pair I tried on. Nearing the end of my afternoon of shopping, I was a bloated, pissed-off, clammy mess.
And then, I found a pair. When I shop, I touch everything I pass and stop when something feels good. (Try this if you're also a problem shopper, sometimes you need to see with the hands. Or something.) These jeans were soft, yet substantial, the wash was the perfect, dark blue with no weird dye-lines or whiskering or bleached knees. I found them in my (five different) sizes and headed to the dressing room.
They looked awesome. The waist hit at the perfect place, they made my legs look long and skinny, and my butt looked like someone else's butt. Specifically someone with a nicer butt than me. So I grabbed the price tag to assess the damage, pretty sure that I was going to buy them anyway. The price was not what shocked me, at $108, they were in the bottom ¼ of all of the premium denim I had tried on that day. What I saw above the price sent me barreling into a life milestone that I was completely unprepared for: Menopause.
The name of the denim company is NYDJ, which does not, unfortunately, stand for New York Designer Jeans (which sounds like the brand of an acid-washed denim wallet you bought in the East Village from a street vendor in 1993). It stands for:
Not Your Daughter's Jeans.
I put the jeans on hold until Friday, which was my payday, but that wasn't really why. I wanted to go home and do Internet research about the company to make me feel better about buying them, because I really wanted to buy them, but the name was stopping me.
The website didn't really help. It was mostly faceless testimonials from women who loved the jeans, but suspiciously, didn't talk about their age at all. They were definitely moms. There's one part that says: “Look good in jeans... again!” UGH. It's possible that I'm the only person in their 20s who has ever considered buying NYDJ, but probably not.
Eventually, after I tamed my ego, I had to come to peace with it myself, without the reassurance of anyone else. That's how life works anyway, right? Ideally you get to a place where you are satisfied being you, despite what assessments anyone else might make about you based on your jeans.
I remember a conversation between my Mom and Nana at the kitchen table of our old apartment in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, when I was about 10 years old. I'm not sure what the conversation was about, probably my Nana's propensity to fart loudly in public, but my she said, “When you're my age, you stop giving a sh*t about what anyone thinks about you, because you've been through enough to know what you're made of.” Nana was a smart lady.
I'm not saying I'm emotionally there, but I bought the jeans on Friday. I'm wearing them right now, and at the coffee shop this morning, a dude was totally staring at my butt. Here's the thing: If you don't dress like a mom, they don't look like mom jeans. They're normal jeans with a very specific ad campaign.
If you've got hips and a butt, like me, I totally recommend them. I think they even have plus-sized jeans, too. The only indication of the brand is the engraved button, and you can get creative re-imagining the anagram into something that isn't cringe-inducing. Like: Now You're Dancing, Jenny! Or, New York Danger Jams. Those are both terrible. Regardless, you'll look hot, and you won't have to buy jeans for a while. Do it! Look hot in jeans... AGAIN!