Dressing rooms, blue jeans and a midlife crisis

I have been accused of being “too picky.” Personally, I prefer “selective.” A perfectionist? Maybe.

That could be why I detest shopping for clothes.

Especially blue jeans.

I can’t seem to find the perfect jeans, which is why when I find an acceptable pair, I wear them over and over. Honestly, I could just kick myself for not buying several pairs of the acceptable jeans, because they became my Favorite Pair – and now they are way beyond fixing. Not too long ago, and totally pushing my luck, I did indeed wear Favorite Pair to the store. Just a quick dash in and out, I told myself. But then, I ran a few more errands. And, when I got home, to my horror, I noticed that somewhere along the way, the patch that held my jeans together fell off.

Yikes! I’m not sure I want to know how many people saw the gaping hole in my jeans. I am not a teenager anymore.

But I digress.

Knowing that this search and try-on process is going to take me to where I don’t go mentally, I decided to arm myself for battle, and make things easier by wearing my awesome, comfy yoga pants instead of my back-up pair of jeans, which I don’t care much for. Plus, they were in the laundry pile, since they have been overused with the demise of Favorite Pair.

Ah, my yoga pants. I use them for exercising and as my errand-running back-ups. And, well, when I realized Favorite Pair was probably going to become further worn-out with household chores, I started wearing my comfy black yoga paints. To clean. With bleach.

Thank goodness that a black Sharpie marker covered my mistake.

Anyhow, back to the hunt.

I dug through piles of denim, like a dog digging for a bone. My favorite style of jeans has to be here, I thought to myself, as panic set in.

Nope. My favorite style is gone. History.

Which meant finding a replacement.

Great. I became overwhelmed at all the choices, but marveled at all the fashionable opportunities available. Why, with a little luck, maybe even I could look like that mannequin!

So, as with any change, I embraced a new look with an air of excitement and a bit of apprehension, plus two sizes of style of jeans, because, Lord only knows which clothing manufacturer’s styles and sizes are going to fit. I dashed off to the changing rooms, with anticipation of my new look.

After the first few attempts, I started to get worried. Nothing fit. So, accepting that I probably gained a little weight – though Favorite Pair never let me know that – I started looking at other sizes. And other brands.

No luck.

Getting frustrated, I literally wanted to cry. In a sea of clothing, I was drowning in waves of panic. Nothing fit ME. Negative thoughts started popping into my brain, like the clothing manufacturers having a “thing” against me and women my age. The dream of looking like the mannequin – gone, just like the youthful body I once had. I felt old and washed up – as if I couldn’t do anything right. Negativity was oozing out of every pore, and I started thinking of all my failures, especially my chosen career path. How could I have known that my favorite industry would change, and be replaced with a cool, new style that, no matter how hard I tried, I just had the hardest time getting a good fit? Like my faded old blue jeans, I guess I miss my “faded” old career.

Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes. So, this is midlife, huh? Well, the fighter in me came out, and had a smack down with my toxic emotions. And I got back into the ring.

Yes, I was getting older, and my body was changing – that’s life. Yes, there has been some serious grief and loss and change in the past few years, but there has also been great growth and love and joy. There are going to be frustrations – that’s life, and that’s not going to change. And it is a good life, so keep moving along.

Wiping my tears, I stepped out of the changing room and put the all of jeans that didn’t fit on the “don’t want” rack. Seriously, I had tried on at least 16 pairs of jeans. I apologized to the woman who had to restock them. She smiled and said “No problem.” I think she saw the mascara smudges from my tears.

“There is a perfect pair for you out there,” she said, and pointed me in another direction. “Just keep looking.”

She was right. Not just about finding the jeans, but by reminding me to never give up.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

12 Replies to “Dressing rooms, blue jeans and a midlife crisis”

  1. Have most definitely been through that…it’s as if jeans are my safe haven from a demanding life, until THEY start demanding a break…so the last time I shopped for jeans, fully aware of my weight and how hard it would be I set myself a limit in number off jeans and the time I would spend trying them on, also I decided that at the first sign of resistance from the jeans I’d peel them off immediately and on to the next pair…alas, it took me 9 pairs of jeans and 30 mins to come out a winner with two pairs in diferent sizes and different style each… But, oh yes I had prepared myself emotionally for the challenge refusing to be selfcritical, I AM 40 what can I expect, besides size to manufacturers means nothing so I was not going to let one tell me you are a fat size 10 and the other tell me you are a fat size 8…I don’t care…the number was just a category to me that day and it in no way represented me or my body… From that day on I have stopped dreading shopping for trousers or jeans, they will not get the best of me! Read you soon Lynne, Alexandra

    1. I like the idea of a time limit, Alexandra. Great idea! I, too, disregard the number, as each manufacturer has a different standard. Maybe the emotional turmoil is that jeans are supposed represent our carefree, comfortable moments – but buying them certainly can be less than a carefree moment… 🙂

  2. Such a conundrum: I love jeans and wear them almost every day (unless it’s summer and too hot), but I hate shopping for them. Given that, I should probably look for jeans more often so I don’t have to panic-shop for them when they give out — but I just can’t face it! What is up with manufacturers who make different “styles” of women’s/missy/girls jeans each year?!? It makes me crazy! When my husband gets jeans, he drop into the department store, finds the Levi’s section, gets whatever number (505 or something) in the correct waist/inseam size and he’s done. He doesn’t even have to do the fitting room shuffle. But because every year, I have no idea if my favorite jeans are “in” or “out”, I’ve got to pray that what I can find is going to work. Sigh. I’m thinking yoga pants are the new jeans…. 🙂

    1. Joan – you are spot on! The guys just go grab their regular size, and I have to dig through piles of endless styles and non-standard sizes, then get a work-out in a dressing room with an unforgiving mirror! Maybe I should stick with my yoga pants, too! 🙂

  3. I live in jeans. Wearing them all the time (except bed and Sunday mornings). Guys have a similar problem, but not to the extreme that gals do. When I find a pair I like, I wear them until they fall apart. The pair I have on right now is missing a belt loop and fraying on the pant legs. My biggest issue is that when I get the correct waist size, the inseam is always too long. I guess that tells me something!! I guess I have to make a lifestyle change if I want to find jeans that fit without having to shorten the inseam. Aside from that, you are right. We just run into a store and grab a “name brand” pair and away we go. 🙂

  4. Great post — So many of us can relate! Somewhere along the line, I stopped wearing jeans as often as I used to, probably because I don’t care for how I look in them. (I tend to favor sundresses in the summer, because they’re so easy.) That said, I do have a couple of pairs of good jeans that I wear in the fall and winter. Both are made by the company called Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. They really have an amazing fit … although, once again, I prefer black pants and skirts with boots — because I look better in them.

  5. Oh, I can definitely relate. Although, my jean fantasy of finding the perfect jean without having to alter them is just that… a fantasy. And it’s been going on for decades. Thanks for a delightful post.
    Sue Bock

    1. Thank you, Sue! I feel so much better knowing than I am not the only one going through this love-hate jean relationship 🙂

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