It's a wash

The pitfalls of shopping for a simple pair of jeans

Fairfield Daily Republic ©

Say goodbye to Levi's, gals. There is a whole other world of denim out there waiting to be explored.

Denim has gained respect in the last several years, with new styles, cuts, embellishments and washes filling every casual event and woman's desire. Well, except for mine.

I have denim issues and I've had them all my life. I'm not sure if it's my body type or if I'm just too stubborn to wear the latest, styling jeans without consideration of how it looks on me.

It's not often I shop for jeans. I don't have the patience anymore to try on 20 pairs or so until that one style sent from the denim gods above glows before me with a ray of bright light. But every now and then, as much as I'd like to avoid the obligation of buying a pair, it's time to stack the jeans at home with new styles.

I went shopping the other day in hopes of finding a decent pair of jeans. I knew I needed to dedicate an entire day to this shopping frenzy and frankly, I dreaded it. But I did it anyway. I was on a mission.

I visited at least seven shops and three department stores, all offering an array of jeans from different brands and quality. I tried on at least 28 pairs yet left the shopping facility empty-handed, to no surprise. But I did learn 13 things about jeans:
1. The size you wear in one brand will be a size smaller in another brand.

2. When jeans are categorized as a slim fit, they mean it.

3. Jeans with a loose style will snugly fit women with an hour-glass shape.

4. Regular length jeans means well past the heel.

5. Petite length means flood season on a 5-feet-4-inch woman.

6. If you move a size up, the hips are snug but your bottom shows.

7. If you move a size down, it's a big mistake.

8. Ultra low rise jeans will not pass above the hips.

9. Ultra low rice jeans are meant for females below 5 feet tall.

10. Low rise jeans provide back door breezes.

11. All jeans provide ample room for bellies to hang out.

12. A majority of jeans are now made with stretch fabric.

13. Size 2 girls should not be selling jeans.

My final stop was at an all-denim shop. Based on my knowledge of the store and the photos hanging throughout, I knew the merchandise catered to juniors. "Let me try it anyway," I thought. "What do I have to lose?"

My dignity, I later found out. I stood before the wall of cubby holes, all filled with denims in various sizes and styles and I was dumbfounded. Where do I start? Apparently, my look of confusion attracted a bored salesman. Either that or he thought I was crazy to attempt this venture.

I opened my mouth to ask questions and thought better. It's not going to work. He looked at me, raised his eyebrows in a pitiful way and shrugged his shoulders. He knew it wouldn't either.

Exasperated, I spoke with Tifani Wilt, women's fashion director at Macy's West in San Francisco.

"There are different denim cuts for each type of body," she said. "You have to be willing to spend hours trying on dozens of pairs of jeans in different styles and brands."

She suggested I try The Muse jeans, a little higher in the front but below the belly button plus it has high coverage in the back. Or I could go with Paige Denim, designed by a woman who was once a fit model and knows how jeans will fit all figures.

I could further venture to Joe's jeans, a contemporary cut offering different fits for all women, or try Lucky jeans. These jeans, she said, mix a missy with a contemporary fit and are generous in the hip area. "Very fashion forward," she added.

"What should women look for in a pair of jeans?" I asked.

"Darker washes are coming in and less embellishment. Also, it's all about black and black washes," she told me.

All of these, she added, can be found at most Macy's, namely the Impulse department or the Fashion Zone, varying in price up to $140.

I did spend hours trying on jeans and I did try different styles, all to no avail. But I have hope I'll find a pair. I just need to dedicate an entire weekend to do so.