Jeans: 455, Laura: 3, Part the Second

In Part the First I wrote about how I lost 32 lbs. via a change in diet that works for me and how I lost 4 dress sizes and suddenly found myself unable to shop at the same store I had shopped at for almost 10 years:  Lane Bryant.

However, I want to make a point about weight and sizes and the way we look at ourselves.  When I was 18 and joined the Army I weighed 148 lbs. and wore a size 10-12.  (Translated to modern sizes that would be a 6-8 now.)  I felt a little heavy and was THRILLED to drop 20 lbs. in basic and become a size 6-8 (modern 2-4).  When I met my husband and fell in love I gained what I like to call “Love Weight” because so many people who start new relationships do this – they gain weight.  And I went back up to 148 and topped out at 155 when I got married.  Here is a photo of my body during that time:

Piece of advice – don’t ever get a perm a month prior to your wedding if you have never had one before. Seriously.

THAT is not fat.  That is perfectly average sizing of size 12 in 1993, which would equate to size 8 now.  My problem back then was that I didn’t know how to dress myself.  (Some might argue I still suffer from this, lol.)  Pleated waist jeans with pegged legs and a floaty poets blouse tucked into jeans with a belt are NOT flattering.  On anyone.  At anytime.  I probably would have felt much better about myself if I didn’t look like I was trying to be an extra on that “poufy shirt” episode of Seinfeld.

The point I am trying to make is that I don’t think there has been a single time in my life I have been happy with my shape/weight/etc.  I have become more comfortable in my skin and accepting of my size, but the idea of “the perfect weight” is such a myth.  I don’t honestly know another woman who is happy with her weight/shape, and that is sad.  So much of the media plays into this in making us feel bad about ourselves, but that is a whole other post entirely, and much better covered by folks like Sally at the blog “Already Pretty.”

Just remember that things change.  Bodies change.  I have seen this saying on the Internets and it says so much about how we feel about our bodies:  “I wish I was the size I was when I thought I was fat.”   And sometimes those changes as you get older come with something you might consider a benefit.  My almost 90-year-old grandmother who weighs about 100 lbs. soaking wet recently had to go up a cup size in her bra from what she considered a very small size.  I asked her how this came about, and she said, “Now that I’m older my skin is loose and it fills up the cup!”  Every cloud has a silver lining, lol.

As to the jeans situation, I have to reiterate that no longer having one set place to shop for jeans was both exciting and frightening.  Exciting because I had so many more clothing options open to me, and frightening because A)I had no idea what size I was and B)I had no idea where to shop.

Lane Bryant Right Fit Blue Boot Cut Jeans, $59.95.

The jeans at Lane Bryant were perfect for me, because they fit my smaller waist, big booty, and swayback.  There was no gaping in the back.  The pants fit everywhere, except for being a little long in length.  Although I am 5’5 and thus considered the “average” height for a woman, I have never found “average” length jeans to fit, because I am very long-waisted and thus I have stubby legs and a large rise.  Few pants have ever fit me the way the “blue circle” jeans did at Lane Bryant.

When I discovered I couldn’t wear their jeans, I was a little panicked.  I remember going with my daughters to Old Navy to buy them jeans and they each tried on roughly 15-20 pairs.  The 15-year-old was frustrated and a little bit angry when she was done, having found one pair that seemed to fit properly.  “Why is this so hard?  Do we ALWAYS have to try on this many jeans to find one that fits?”  Another customer, the saleslady and I all said, “Yes.”

It IS frustrating for women that there is no set measurement system for women’s pants.  Why can’t they do it according to men’s sizing:  waist and inseam?  Well, the problem there lies in women having hips.  Our bodies are not all shaped the same.

Knowing this, I was not eager to get out there into the world of shopping again and find new jeans.  Initially I figured I would just go to Fashion Bug – they have the same “color” sizing as Lane Bryant, and their sizes go down to a size 0.  Then I discovered that like the store “Avenue”, “Fashion Bug” was closing.  I ran over and found 1 pair of jeans, but otherwise they were pretty picked over.

I tried the “fit system” at Target, and either the pants were too short in the rise, or wouldn’t fit my hips.

The Flirt Boot Cut Jeans at Old Navy, $25.00.

I tried jeans at Old Navy and even the “Flirt” version didn’t really fit my hips very well – and low-rise is just too low on my booty.

I went to Macy’s Women and the closest thing I could find was a 14 in one of their store brands.  But they didn’t go any smaller.

Michael Kors Sausalito Boot Cut Jeans at Macy’s, $79.95.

I tried True Religion, Lucky, Michael Kors. Inc., and various other brands inside of Macy’s regular store.  Apparently if you have a larger than 32 inch waist you are plus sized, as I couldn’t find any jeans higher than a 32 inch waist.  I tried those and again, too low cut – not enough booty coverage.  The closest ones were the Michael Kors Sausalito jeans in boot cut, in a size 16.  The length was just a little bit off, and I had bagging around my knees.  And for $80, I wanted those jeans to make my butt look AMAZING.

So I came home sad and frustrated, and asked the Hive Mind at FaceBook for suggestions, and went back out today, armed with a list of places to go.

Just so you know, it would appear that Lands End is not really carrying jeans for anyone other than plus sizing and VERY skinny jeans as per their website.  In Lands End World people are only wearing Chinos now.  FYI.

Levi’s had a very complex system of curve and length, etc., but all their jeans were “skinny.”  Curvy skinny bootcut.  Curvy skinny straight.  Curvy skinny jeggings.  (I just can’t even speak about jeggings.  The things that jeggings do to my thighs are so very not flattering….)

My body is not skinny.  I have only once been truly skinny – when I was 19 and hit 112 lbs. in the Army, as seen in this photo:

Cheekbones that could cut glass.

What we can learn from this photo is that A)my fashion taste in the 90’s REALLY sucked, and B)that I was too skinny, in spite of still having very athletic calves.  I believe this dress was a size 4, which when translated into 2012 sizing is probably a size 0.  No wonder I was sick all the time.  My body is not meant to be this small.

So the Levi’s jeans were Right Out.

The Gap Long and Lean Boot Cut Jeans, $69.95.

I checked the Gap website and looked at their sizing chart.  As per their chart, someone with my measurements should be wearing their size 18-20.  Which was a completely depressing moment for me because I had just gone through months of weight loss to not have to wear a size 18-20 anymore.  I told this to the Cheap Chick and she told me to go to the store anyway – that that couldn’t possibly be right.  So I went to the store and grabbed a pair of 16s and went to try them on.  And they fit comfortably in my hips and were too loose at my waist.  So I tried a pair of 14s (in the Long and Lean line – the Curvy line did not fit my booty properly) and it fit my waist and was slightly tight in my hips and thighs.  But because they have some Lycra in them I knew they would stretch, and so I purchased the 14s.  And breathed a sigh of relief that I might possibly have someplace to shop for jeans.

But I still had to try Eddie Bauer because several folks had also raved about them.  They had also recently implemented a “shape” system of sizing and I knew that I qualified as “Super Curvy” or “Supreme Curvy” or whatever the most curvy option was.  I got a 14 and a 16 and went to try them on.  The 14 fit better, but I had bagging at the knees because of the difference in my in-seam.  The kind of bagging that cannot be hemmed out – it just looks bad no matter what.  The helpful salesman was determined to find me jeans that fit, and he had me try on curvy trouser jeans and they fit really nicely.  They hung from my hips rather than my knees, and there was no bagging.  The hem wasn’t even terribly long.  So I bought a pair that was on sale.

I am going to return the Macy’s brand jeans because they really were not the greatest fit, and I am very happy to know that I can wear jeans at two major retailers.  But it took trying on roughly 40 pairs of jeans at multiple stores to find something that fit.

The thing you have to remember is that the SAME JEAN in the SAME SIZE may not fit the same.  Often ready to wear is cut in groups – 5 pairs at a time.  And while the top pair is cut perfectly to the pattern size, the bottom ones will differ.  So it is important to try on all the pairs of jeans you are planning on buying.  You might have gotten something from the bottom of the pile and something from the top.  They will fit differently.  I have 2 pairs of denim shorts I purchased two years ago that represent this very well.  They were listed as the same size.  I tried one on and grabbed a second pair.  I have worn the first pair for several years until it no longer fit this year.  The second pair of shorts STILL DON’T FIT.  I tried them on today when I tried on all of my other jeans to see if they fit yet.  They still don’t. So do yourself a favor and try on all your pairs of jeans before you buy them.

I also discovered something interesting during all of this.  I made a point of telling people that I had lost weight and didn’t really know what size I was and asked for help at each store.  The sizes they guessed were across the board.  But every single one of them wanted details on how I was doing it.  They all, almost universally, had “a friend” who was also trying to lose weight.  My response was that I had changed my diet and found something that worked for me, and that not everything works for everyone else.

My weight loss and clothing hunt saga might not be of interest to anyone other than me.  However, it is posted here in hopes that it might be helpful to someone else.  And if you are going through weight loss and working your butt off to get healthier and feel better?  More power to you, and GOOD LUCK.  It is hard, but the health benefits are worth it.  I can’t believe how much better my knees already feel, and how much more stamina I have.

The equivalent of what has been removed from my butt.

I put a 25 lb. bag of rock salt in the water softener the other day and realized that I had lost the equivalent of 1.5 bags.  It was a pretty amazing moment.

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