30 December 2006

How to deal with the death of your premium jeans

This is how jeans should fit a woman's bottom. I'm not saying the bottom is ideal - in fact, I like something bigger, a bit more Biel-tastic - but the fit itself is spot-on. The waistband is flush against the hips, the fabric just above the bottom point of the pocket is wrinkle-free, and you don't see a centimeter of spillover.

This last fact leads me to my sister-in-law's fashion mantra: low-rise jeans are a privilege, not a right.

Unless you're born lucky or you earn your fat-free hips in the gym, please do us all a favor and pick up a pair of mid-rise or high-rise jeans and cover yourself. Every premium and non-premium denim brand makes them. If you aren't sure if you've earned your low-rise admission, try them on and solicit your Mom's opinion. Two decades of experience tell me you'll get your answer (and then some) within the first few seconds of asking.

Now we deal with the issue at hand: what to do when your premium jeans die a premature death.

I make the distinction between premium and non-premium jeans for a simple reason. The former cost a whole lot more than the latter. Losing the battle with a pair of $49.50 Gap jeans is unfortunate but not tragic; watching a pair of $172 AG Adriano Goldschmied Angel stretch jeans go from a size 27 to a size 29 in the span of four months, on the other hand, deserves a proper mourning period. Welcome to my world. This has happened to me not once, not twice, but FOUR times.
Something else that separates a pair of premium jeans from its less expensive counterpart is that premium jeans have a range of uses, from a casual weekend look (right on Jessica Alba) to a dressy going-out look (left on Charlize Theron) and everything in between. Unlike a daybag, premium jeans don't benefit from a harsh, long life. I want my bottom to look as tightly hugged after a year as it did they day I bought them; I want the striated blue wash to look as dark after a year as it did the day I bought them; and finally, I want the cuffs at the bottom to be as fray-free after a year as they were the day I bought them.

The first two pairs I bought, I admit, weren't as doted upon as they should have been. Instead of letting them drip-dry as the Anthropologie saleswoman instructed I do, I carelessly threw them in the dryer on high heat every week. The elasticity retreated within the first two months. The ass in which I'd invested so many hours in the gym was now swimming in stretchless fabric. In a word, unacceptable.

I take complete responsibility for the first two deaths. By the time my third pair started to show signs of premature old age, a pair I didn't even introduce to a washer and only dry-cleaned, I was convinced I was wronged. In a moment of rather shameless audacity, I marched back into the Tarheel blue dollhouse entrance of Georgetown's Anthropologie and demanded they either revive my denim's shapelessness or give me my money back.

After listening to my story, a look of shared sadness came over the saleswoman's face. She knew. And even though I didn't have my receipt or any other way to prove my jeans came from her store, she gave me a heartfelt I've-been-here-too apology and a full in-store credit.

This is one way to keep your fashion intact in the midst of a denim death, but what happens if you come across a saleswoman less sympathetic to your plight? I asked around, and there are very few alternatives, none of which, however, are to continue wearing the premium-turned-Mom jeans (to watch SNL's classic "Mom Jeans" commercial, click here).

One option is to get your jeans taken in by a tailor. A girlfriend of mine has done this to her favorite pair of Sevens twice, and the only way anyone could tell is if they were to look at the tiny red and yellow label that instead of reading "For all mankind" now reads "For aln kind." The risk in taking this route is high. If you don't have a tailor skilled enough to perform the surgery, you could end up in a bigger mess than you started with, in addition to being out the $20 to $40 (s)he charges you for the botched job.

A second option is to write the company and tell them your story. This worked for another friend of mine, who not only received two new pairs of Habitual jeans but also got a handwritten thank-you note from someone in the design department. In the note, the woman apologized for my friend's trouble and said her bad experience would influence future Habitual design and construction methods.

But that's it.

The best advice I can give when bringing home your first bundle of $200 denim is to treat it like the luxury it is. But once it's past its prime, once it looks like you've got a "thass" (an indistinguishable mass of thighs and ass), move on. Don't be Debbie Harry in a red mini and fishnets at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors -- just admit it's over.

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Anonymous said...

Dry cleaning is NOT easy on clothes containing delicate fibres (not just the synthetic elastics that make stretch jeans stretchy, but fine wools of the sort you find in quality men's suits and other things). While you don't have alternatives with a suit, I think the way to go with the jeans is washing in a delicate cycle and then drip drying (or in a pinch, in the dryer with no heat). I've got a Ridolfi dress shirt I've owned for almost 10 years that still looks new because it only gets that treatment.

That said, women get hosed on the quality of the materials in their garments. Doesn't matter if its suits, dresses or pantyhose. Men would never stand for what women put up with on this score.

New Yorker in Exile

Anonymous said...

Also, editrix, YouTube has a Jessica Biel at the beach video you would probably like.

I sure did.




maitresse said...

ok, but what if you get the jeans that fit so well in the store home and after wearing them once they are now stretched out and baggy? what then? now that I've had them hemmed, it's too late to take them back!

and I had a beautiful pair of AG's, ankle-cut cigarette leg, in the softest denim imaginable, but after about a year they got a whole in the crease where ass meets leg. I had it repaired, but not long after got the same hole on the other ass/leg/crease. I think the fabric was just too fragile for long life. boo hoo.