It’s in the jeans

I need a new pair of jeans.

It’s the familiar old process I find myself going through at least every 10 or so years.

Yes, I wear jeans for a long time. And I usually only have two pairs of jeans at a time — the pair I will wear out hiking in the woods or swamps, and the pair I will wear into civilization.

The process works like this: The nicer pair, over time, begins to show the signs of aging. A hole here. A loose hem there. When it gets to the point where, when I put them on and get ready to head out, my wife cocks her head and says, “Ehhh…Not sure…” that I know it is time for new nice jeans. Then the nice jeans are relegated to woods jeans, and the woods jeans are sent to live on a farm upstate.

I can’t stand buying any clothes, but jeans are even worse. I’m very particular about how jeans fit on me, and I can’t quite explain it. I have had clerks ask me before if I liked loose fit or boot cut or this or that whatever. All I can say is, “I like my jeans … um … how I like them.”

And I’ve tried just going and getting the exact same make and model (if that’s what you call a kind of jeans), and found that the same ones seem to fit differently. Yes, I know this is a me problem.

My family was out at some stores recently, and there was a Levi’s store there. The jeans I was looking to replace are Levi’s, and as luck would have it, I was wearing them at the time.

My son and I decided to head into the store to check out the selection. (My wife and daughter had gone off to visit some other stores. We have found it’s a far better system for them to go and shop and for my son and me to go maybe into a store or two, but most likely find the food court, eat cookies and check NFL scores.)

I approached the counter. The clerk was young, probably in her early 20s. She had pink and purple hair and two large metal spike things pierced on each side of her nose. I tell you that not to judge her, but to simply let you know that she and I were probably in fairly different places in life, so she may not quite relate to my jeans quest.

I asked her if she knew if they carried the jeans I was currently wearing. She said, “Hmmmm. Do you mind if I look?” she said, pointing to my waist. I assumed she meant at the tag on the back. I was correct.

I lifted my shirt and turned my back to her. “Hmm. Well, since you cut the tag off…” I interrupted her, as I craned over my shoulder to look for myself.

“Wait .. I didn’t cut the tag off. Guess it’s just worn out over time.” I do not know if cutting tags off is some fashion things nowadays. I don’t personally like the tags inside of a shirt, so I cut those off. But if it’s a thing to cut tags on the outside, that seems kinda, well, pointless.

“Do you know if there is a tag on the inside?” I asked. “Because I can go in the fitting room and check.” Maybe, she said. I went to a dressing room and found that, in fact, there was a tag. I returned to the clerk and told her what the model was. She informed me that they no longer carried those, but pointed me in the direction of some similar styles. She said, “You would like those. They’re a little roomier, like yours. They’re definitely not skinny jeans.”

My first reaction was to be offended that she had judged me about not wanting skinny jeans. Then I reminded myself, “Hey, Mike — you hate skinny jeans. She was spot on.” Gotcha.

I tried a few pairs here and there, and nothing quite had the perfect feel.

I will keep going to stores and occasionally trying on a pair here or there until I find the right fit. You know, that fit that just … just … you know, the one I like.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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