The Closet Chronicles: Denim Blues

Blue jeans. It’s a love-hate relationship. I’ve loved them ever since I bought my first pair of Levi’s. I’ve hated trying to find a pair that fits ever since I bought my first pair of Levi’s. People complain about shopping for swimsuits? Jeans are worse.

While it was never easy to find a great-fitting pair of jeans, it used to be easier. And not just because I used to weigh less. The problem is the number of choices you’re confronted with today: shelves and shelves of different washes, different cuts, different levels of disintegration. Did you know there are both “distressed” and “destroyed” jeans? Did you even know your jeans could be distressed? And who knew people would actually pay money for something labeled destroyed?

When The Gap stopped making their “reverse fit” jeans about 15 years ago, I gave up trying to find jeans I truly loved and resigned myself to wearing “almost” jeans — jeans that were not quite right, but close enough. Then … it happened. I found a pair of Ann Taylor Boyfriend Jeans. And fell in love all over again.

But there were two problems standing between me and true love. First, this pair was tan, not blue. And I found them at a consignment shop, which means they were the only pair there. No different colors, washes, levels of wear and tear. Just this one pair.

I know what you’re thinking — just go to the Ann Taylor website and order what you want! But, brand new, these jeans cost about $80. Ehhh … there’s only so much I’ll do for true love, and $80 for a pair of jeans ain’t one of ’em. And then I remembered I’d been selling clothing I no longer wear on eBay. Could I find a blue pair of the exact same jeans on eBay? Hmmmm. Let’s see …

I’m an expert online shopper. At least I thought I was. But my online purchasing over the past 20 years has pretty much been limited to L.L. Bean and Lands’ End, with the occasional foray into Eddie Bauer-land. As it turns out, eBay is different. The search engine doesn’t limit itself to what you’re actually searching for. Those items will be closest to the top, but if you keep scrolling, you’ll run into bunches of things only peripherally related to what you want. I found this out the hard way.

The first time I typed in “Ann Taylor Loft Boyfriend Jeans, size 8,” yes, there were blue jeans. This is when I learned the difference between “distressed” (holes and rips) and “destroyed” (huge holes and rips). I wanted jeans that were a little less ventilated. So I kept scrolling … and yes! There they were! No holes, Ann Taylor blue jeans! Only $7.99! So I hit “Bid Now,” and they were mine.

I waited impatiently, stalking the mailman daily. Finally, they arrived! Beautiful, blue, no holes! Beautiful, blue, no holes, size 8 Ann Taylor Modern Skinny jeans. Not just skinny jeans. Modern skinny jeans. The legs fit like sleeves. On my arms. I didn’t even try to put them on my legs. It might’ve taken the Jaws of Life to free me.

How did this happen? I went online and looked. Sure enough, the description said “skinny jeans.” I’d been so excited by the lack of holes and the great price I hadn’t noticed that eBay’s search engine casts a wider net than I was used to. Okay, I would try again. This time, I was prepared! I knew what I was looking for.

Or did I? I found another pair and ordered them. This time, they were too big. Sigh. But my dad didn’t call me stubborn as a mule for nothing. And the third time was the charm.

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I am now the proud owner of a wonderfully comfortable — and flattering — pair of Ann Taylor Boyfriend jeans, size 8. They’re distressed, but I’ve made peace with that. Just don’t tell my kids, because I’m the person who refused to buy them the super cool pre-ripped American Eagle jeans at the mall a couple of years ago.

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