Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Great Pants Shopping Debacle of 2013

After the holidays, none of my jeans fit. (At least none of the jeans I wanted to wear; my skinny jeans still fit which was just cruel because at that point I felt everything BUT skinny.) Because denim is a staple of my office wardrobe this was a bit of a problem so I had to suck it up and venture into the deepest pits of pain and insanity and go...pants shopping.

I've mentioned before that I love shopping and I do, just not always for myself. One of my favourite shopping pastimes is to pick out clothes for the Beau and when we shop together, he always has huge success. But shopping for myself is just not that fun.

A woman needs pants, though, so the Beau and I ventured into Sherway Gardens to find me some jeans. I wanted to get good quality denim though I balk at spending $200 or more on jeans; I just can't do it. The other main factor in my pants shopping is my size and knowing what stores will fit me. I don't even bother with True Religion or Jean Machine or Aritizia because they don't carry sizes that fit my bottom half and I just don't need that kind of embarrassment. It's already hard enough going into some stores and having to go for the largest size on the rack, not knowing if it will actually fit.

So I had my stores in mind: Gap, Banana Republic and Jacob. Sherway Gardens is a fairly large mall with dozens of women's stores and I had three to go to. THREE. Roots and Eddie Bauer also made the short list if I struck out at any of these ones. We started with Banana Republic, where the Beau had to drag me away from the wrap dresses to the denim wall. I've never actually tried on pants at Banana Republic and thought I'd give it a shot - until I chickened out. I made an excuse that the pants were too expensive and we left.

Jacob was second on the list and having a huge sale so I stocked up on things to try (if I'm going into a change room, I'd better have at least four things to try on). I managed to squeeze myself into three pairs of jeans (one pair was eliminated instantly) but - miraculously - two pairs fit! I tried very hard to focus on the fact that they fit rather than the fact they were the largest size available in the store and was mostly successful. While one pair was far too long (and hemming would have eliminated the boot-cut leg) I did buy a pair of straight-leg jeans.

We then went to Gap where, after trying on eight pairs, I managed to find two (TWO!) that fit. The saleswoman at Gap was most wonderful too; I think she could tell that, for me, trying on pants was akin to death by a thousand cuts so she brought me various sizes and styles and always complimented me when I came out of the change room. The Beau was also wonderful the entire time, reminding me that it wasn't my body that was weird, it was how the clothing industry decided to size things.

So I was able to leave the mall with three new pairs of jeans. Why a debacle, you say? Because the whole experience completely destroyed my self-confidence, nevermind that I was still bloated and soft from an overly indulgent holiday. Sure, I probably went pants shopping at the worst time (body-wise) but when nothing fit, it was a necessary evil. And the frustration and self-defeat I felt was almost overwhelming. Had I been alone, there's a very good chance I would have left several stores either near tears or in tears.

Clothing sizes are so ridiculous but they still exist as another number to be applied to our bodies and it's something I continue to struggle with (and have written about here many times). Men have it easy when it comes to pants: waist size + inseam, all in inches. Women? We get that stupid 2/4/6/etc sizing and depending on the store, the number can equal different waist sizes. In one place, a size 12 equals a 32" waist while another store has size 14 at a 32" waist and yet another puts the size 14/16 at a 32" waist. And then other stores have denim sized in inches and other pants sized in single or double digits. AND they don't have pants sizes that go as high as denim sizes so when I think I've found a store where I can buy pants I learn I can only buy denim there because the pants sizes don't go big enough for me. (Seriously, who decided THAT was a good idea? Wouldn't you want a person to come back to your store for everything, not just jeans?)

After shopping, I posted on Facebook about how I'll never understand how women's pants sizes work and many of my friends expressed their own frustration - and these women were of all shapes and sizes! So that got me thinking: who on Earth are these clothing sizes made for? I mean, there must be SOME woman out there who fits into these sizes, no matter what? Because women come in all shapes and sizes and, yes, I know there's no such thing as "one size fits all", but if so many of us have problems finding pants that fit, why haven't pants sizes changed?

(Though I suppose my Facebook feed is not quite enough evidence to support my sweeping generalizations, but still.)

Today I'm wearing my jeans from Jacob and I feel good in them. They're not cutting into my stomach nor are they too tight anywhere. But this morning, after drying off from my shower, I caught sight of my belly and it wasn't pretty. So I'm conflicted: I'm sitting here in pants that fit me well and are comfortable to wear yet I know that my stomach is bigger than I'd like and that my jeans are a size bigger than I'd like. Even my successes can easily become failures.

Stupid pants.

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