New Jeans

I was stuck in traffic for a little while yesterday, and I got distracted by how many people in the opposite lane were on their cell phones. I checked each car in the line: texting, texting, texting, not texting, texting, texting, not texting. Then there was a longer stretch of cars containing people who were looking at the road and I started to feel more positive about things again—and had to slam on the brakes as I nearly hit someone because I was counting how many people weren’t looking at the road.


The jeans I used to like at Lane Bryant were replaced awhile back by a new version that seems made for a completely different body type than mine: they squeeze hard in some places but fall down in others, so that I feel unhappy and uncomfortable and uncute. Also the inseam is about three inches too long so I have to roll them up, and I feel as if I finished with rolling up my jeans somewhere around college. I went on eBay and found a couple of used pairs of the ones I liked, but finally even those had worn out to the point of rising panic. The holes in the thighs were so large, I had to sit as if I were wearing a skirt.

I’d heard many good things about Torrid, so one day when the wind was right and my spirits were high and I was able to imagine facing the try-on session as long as I could get lunch afterward in the food court, I headed for the mall. I took samples of three different styles of jeans with me to the fitting room—and to my incredulous delight, every single pair fit great and looked good. One pair was slightly less good, so I took the other two pairs to the register—and the clerk manipulated coupons and deals until I ended up with one pair free. I practically FLEW home on wings of jeans happiness. I had expected a trip of torment, and instead had found easy success.

As soon as I got home, I put the jeans through the washer and dryer. Then I put a pair on, and took all the stuff out of the pockets of my tattered jeans to put into the new jeans—and the new jeans had no pockets. No. Pockets. The pockets were fake. They LOOKED like pockets, but there were no pockets. I looked at the second pair: that pair had pockets, but they were about a third the depth of regular pockets: instead of being able to put my cell phone in there, I could only fit half of my cell phone, and only if I turned it the long way.

It was a crushing betrayal. You will understand, I think, when I tell you I sank deep. What was the point of anything. Who even cares. I considered purchasing a fanny pack. Etc.

With time comes healing, and eventually a glimmer of hope returned. It was a small, faltering flame, but I nurtured it well until it grew. One night, after making the mistake known as “We should finish off this bottle of wine or it’ll go bad,” my eye fell on one of the several sale emails I get per day from Roaman’s: the particular email offered a buy-one-get-one-free clearance section. In a flash I was sifting through pages of jeans with elastic waists, and plus-sized jeans modeled by non-plus-sized women, and pants cropped to exactly the wrong length between capri and ankle, and tight pre-ripped jeans with those familiar rolled cuffs favored by Co-ed Swistle.

I persevered, and I was rewarded: I found several pairs of jeans that APPEARED to be nice, normal jeans that a thin woman would wear, available in my non-thin size. I added one of each to the cart.

Then my eye fell on these:

(image from

It was hard to tell, especially with the shirt tucked in. Were those fashionably, refreshingly light, a swing of the pendulum back from the dark-and-darker options, or were they reminiscent of the bleached denim of Swistle Youth? The embroidery made me feel happy, but would it look silly? The model appears to be wearing cowgirl boots; does this mean the embroidery has a country vibe rather than the flower child vibe I would prefer? Well, I had three pairs of plainer jeans in the cart already, and it was buy-one-get-one-free, so the embroidered ones would be free. The last of the wine kicked in, and I pressed the button to complete the order.

When the package arrived, I let it sit for almost two weeks. Schrodinger’s Jeans: as long as I didn’t open the package and observe the jeans, maybe they would fit AND be cute AND have pockets.

This past Friday night, I was in a teary slump. Everything was terrible. Nothing was okay. This is the perfect mood, in my experience, for doing crappy tasks: if I’m down in the misery pit, I might as well do something that would have shoved me down there anyway. I tried on the jeans. The first pair fit, was acceptably cute, and had pockets. REGULAR pockets. The second pair fit, was acceptably cute, and had regular pockets. The third pair fit, was acceptably cute, and had regular pockets.

I left the embroidered pair for last. I tried them on. I looked at myself in the mirror. I went immediately to the website and tried to order more pairs, but they were sold out in my size. I have worn them every day since. I love them.

“Bootcut” is not the correct descriptor word, I’d say; they are more of a flare. They are fairly fitted through the thigh, and then they just wing right out free and happy, with way more embroidery than shows in the picture: there is a whole triangular inset panel of it. I will demonstrate, with a picture taken in my dark computer room, literally in a mirror, with my size 11 sneakers for scale:

(They are a little less fitted in the thigh in this photo: I was all the way to the end of day two of wearing them, so they’d loosened.) The cuffs are deliberately frayed. They are light, but not as light as they looked on the site. The whole effect, I’d say, is of a pair of extremely awesome jeans purchased quite awhile ago when flares and lighter denim were in fashion. I love them so much. I am not kidding when I say I am getting a lump in my throat thinking about how one day they will wear out. And they have REGULAR POCKETS.

As I am writing this, most sizes have sold out and they are only available in 12w, 14w, 16w, and 18w. I am not sure, but if I think back to the days when I balanced right on the edge between W and non-W sizes, what I’m remembering is that a W adds a size. That is, I believe a 16w is more like an 18-non-W? I think the transition went 14, 16, 16w/18, 18w, 20w, etc., but I am not positive about this, so check the measurements. What’s throwing me is that usually I don’t see 12 or 14 with a W—but it’s a site aimed mostly for plus sizes so they may want the sizing consistent. I bought the same size I wear in Lane Bryant and Torrid, and the fit was right.

31 thoughts on “New Jeans

  1. Marilyn

    I had already read snippets of this tale on Twitter and it still felt like a literal edge-of-my-seat roller coaster of emotions by about one sentence into it. I really appreciate the way you convey the slump of misery that may descend, sometimes unexpectedly, though lately more expectedly, upon an evening.

  2. Suzanne

    I smiled/chuckled the whole way through this. You have captured the jeans buying process so perfectly and yet in a way that did not make me despair over the torture that is buying jeans.

    Favorite bits: wings of jeans happiness; Schrodinger’s jeans.

  3. Jd

    I hate jeans shopping. They never look as cute as I want. So much I avoid wearing jeans so I preserve the pair I have for situations where jeans are a must. It’s kind of sad. I’m happy for you and jealous.

  4. Celeste

    Those are the coolest jeans! They fit into a category that is particularly hard to find in the plus size arena-classic clothing with a bit of whimsy. I feel like when clothing shopping I’m often stuck choosing between super plain and basic options (great as wardrobe filler, but boring) OR some sort of horrifying cross between Hot Toppic and crazy grandma-it’s leopard print AND neon pink AND has sequins AND weird cut out shoulder vents. To little whimsy or way way to much! So yeah-those jeans are a great find.

  5. Rah

    Schrodinger’s Jeans. Heh heh. I’m still chuckling over that.

    NO POCKETS–I know! What are they thinking? I always burn myself into a fury over this, knowing that they wouldn’t even dream of trying to sell pocketless jeans to men. I’ll not work myself up further into a rant, but just reach out in solidarity.

  6. KeraLinnea

    I love Roamans. I find that their W sizes run a little big on me, but until reading this, I didn’t know there was a difference between 18 and18W, so maybe that’s the problem. I bought a pair of skinny jeans from them that fit perfectly and I have hardly taken them off all winter.

    Also, when the revolution comes, those who designed women’s pants with fake pockets will be first against the wall.

  7. BKC

    Also, back pockets are not a substitute for front pockets. I cannot stick my phone in my back pocket because it won’t perch cutely on the upper swell of my buttock, it will be sat upon by my plus-sized ass. And because CANCER I cannot put my phone in my bra anymore. Thus, give me good front pockets or give me death.

  8. Wendy

    Oh, those jeans are AWESOME and you are rocking them. Even just seeing the bottom part of your leg, I can tell you feel sassy in them. :)

    I have a pair of jeans with no pockets too, and it freaks me out every time I go to slip my hand into the pocket and instead my hand just slides down the front of my leg. :o

  9. Alison

    I love those jeans on you, and everything about this post. I especially love that you, like me, save online purchases that you are particularly hopeful about to open later. It’s like, if I just let the box sit in my closet there is still the cheerful prospect of something working out as opposed to the cold certainty of defeat.

    Also, I will admit that I didn’t realize feelings ran so strongly about pockets because I don’t use them myself. When I was younger and wore very fitted jeans I even cut out the pockets for a smoother look. Perhaps this is what retailers are going for (though it seems an unpopular choice).

    1. Alexicographer

      Interesting! I’ve reached a point where I won’t wear clothes that don’t have what I think of as “jeans pockets,” meaning there have to be 4 and they have to accommodate my keys (1 pocket), my wallet (1 pocket), my phone (1 pocket) and my foldable reading glasses (1 pocket). Which pretty much means that I wear only jeans (sigh). It was not until this post that I realized there was such a thing as pocketless jeans.

  10. Elizabeth

    I love this post very much. I too have had the no front pocket betrayal–other than the missing front pockets, they are my favorite pair of jeans. But why? Why are the pockets gone? They are tight skinny jeans but I have other tight skinny jeans where the pocket does not impact the look of the jean whatsoever.

    Also I am sure you have considered this… but for favorite worn out jeans, I take them to the dry cleaner/tailor and have them sew patches in wherever they have worn out (usually the inner thigh). They usually sew in a much sturdier denim so it takes more time to wear through the patches than it did to wear through the original jeans. Also I have them hem my jeans that are too long. This can be pricier than just getting another pair of jeans tho :(

  11. Anna

    LOLLOLLOL at Schrodinger’s jeans! So many things are like this- perfect on the site, in the cart, in the package, until you open it.

    Also, can we talk about how different pairs of the SAME size and SAME style pants from the SAME store can fit differently? What the what. I mean, I sew and I know it’s difficult to cut fabric exactly, but this is mass production we’re talking about, not me sitting on the carpet swearing at an irregular cut of cotton from JoAnn.

  12. Beth

    I feel out of the front pocket loop. Front pockets are always kind of shallow, No? I don’t feel like in could fit an iPhone in there. In the back pocket, sure, but not
    The front. I always carry a purse though. My current jeans are
    Dark washed old navy so maybe it’s the brand? I’m over here like, people
    Put things in the front pockets of jeans???

    1. Missy

      YES! I was thinking the same thing! I have all different brands of jeans and i don’t ever put anything in the front pockets so I am confused as well by this concept.

  13. suburbancorrespondent

    “Schrodinger’s jeans” – that killed me!

    I am apple-shaped and am seriously considering just buying maternity jeans from now on. If I get regular jeans large enough to fit my belly without the snap digging into my skin, then the thighs and the legs are way too big. AND none of the jeans have a waistline that goes up high enough to prevent my stomach from slopping over the top.

    I’m not that big, is what confounds me. I wear a size 6 jean (what used to be called an 8). Just none of them are cut for a post-menopausal belly.

  14. Joanne

    I used to work at the company which owned Lane Bryant (catalog), Roamans and Lerner and I didn’t love their choices then, I’m so excited to hear this!

  15. SR168

    I agree about the slight confusion over pockets – I definitely want them for the aesthetics and may put a tissue in occasionally, but never a phone which will only either get sat on and bent or be squeezed out when I sit down. I still swear by the NYDJ brand for the best comfort and looks balance.

  16. Maggie

    JEANS WITHOUT POCKETS ARE AN OUTRAGE. Sorry for shouting but damn it, it’s just not ok.

    However, Schrodinger’s Jeans. I died. Best.

  17. KD

    Crazy thought: can you get a pair close in size (preferably larger than your size) and get them tailored to fit? I’ve never done this and expect it would be expensive, but might be worth it to have backups of your dream jeans!

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