The Exact Emotional and Monetary Cost of a Good Pair of Jeans

It all started with a little Facebook post.

I take it back — it started with a year of semi-consistently complaining to my husband that I didn’t own a good pair of jeans, then him encouraging me to just buy a pair I loved, who cared how much they cost! And then also maybe we can stop talking about it?

And so I turned to Facebook to ask my ladies where they bought their favorite jeans. The response was overwhelming! Clearly I was not alone in this struggle.

Some said to go to Nordstrom or Bloomingdales and the right pair would “find me”, some said Nordstrom Rack, a lot of people said Madewell was the place to go.

I took their advice to heart and have spent the last two plus months trying to find the pair of jeans that will transform me into Charlize Theron. What follows is a detailed account of this unexpectedly arduous process.

Week following Facebook post:

-Contemplate the advice I’ve received and make some key decisions:

-Realize I have only ever felt intimidated in Bloomingdales. I don’t know if I can face my cellulite in those Nordstrom 3-way mirrors. Both are pricey, and why fall in love with something I can’t afford? I strike them from my list.

-Nordstrom Rack seems like the same options but for less — I decide I will go there.

-Madewell seems specialty enough that I am potentially okay spending more to get something better, if it can live up to the hype. I will brave the Madewell denim bar.  


Thursday, September 1st:

-Go to Nordstrom Rack. Am immediately overwhelmed.

-Gather a pile of jeans heavier than anything I’ve ever picked up at the gym, making sure to get the recommended brands — but how can I be sure I found all the options when I am surrounded by 17 rounds of denim?? What if my magical pair is buried somewhere, mislabled?!

-Try on 18 pairs. Go through the slow process of elimination by making a yes, maybe, and no pile.

-Whittle it down to Joe’s, which are indeed the most comfortable things ever, and cost $80, which seems respectable enough. The problem is I have to decide between a smaller size, which fits my legs, and a bigger size which fits my waist. Story of my life.


Body shape has been exaggerated for emphasis, but you get the point.

-Decide I am an adult, and can no longer respect myself if I continue to live life with my top button undone. Buy the bigger size.

-Take them home, try them on with all my shoes. Only then do I realize they’re not cute. How did this happen? I don’t understand. I wear them all day anyway because they feel like freaking pajama pants.

Friday, September 2nd:

-Try the Joe’s on again. Am frustrated they didn’t become cute while I was sleeping.

-Wonder if I am to the point where I care more about comfort than style. Who do I have to impress anymore, I sit home most Friday nights! But I know in my heart I’m not there yet, and it makes me both happy and sad.

(September 3-4th I spend regaining courage)

Monday, September 5th:

-Hear Madewell is having a Labor Day sale. Text my friend who we’ll call Meg to see if she wants to go. We go, with her adorable 1-year-old son who will never have to experience what we’re about to.

-The Madewell Gals look trendy as ever in their ponchos and vests. They prowl along the line of jeans, asking if they can get me anything. I repeat what I’ve been told by my FACEBOOK LADIES WHERE U AT, maybe I’ll try some 9″ skinnies? They tell me this is a great choice.

-One asks if I want to try the “skinny boyfriend.” I know I should say no to any variation of boyfriend, but in spite of myself I ask her what they’re like. She walks out from behind the denim bar to show me she is wearing them. Those are weird, I think. “Those look cute!” I say. I’m not lying, not intentionally at least. They do look cute in the way that my brain knows they are trendy, they just don’t look very cute to my eyeballs. “They run a few sizes small,” she says, which is enough for me to agree to try them on.

-Meg and I enter our “dressing room,” which is more like a poolside cabana whose curtains are never quite closed. We try all different styles. We try the same styles in different washes, which somehow all fit differently?

-We find that the same two pairs look COMPLETELY different on us and the Traveling Pants were either extremely magical or it’s all a total sham. I can’t let myself believe it’s a sham, as I am still in love with Kostos.

Quatre filles et un jean The sisterhood of traveling pants 2005 Real : Ken Kwapis Michael Rady COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL

My heart actually fluttered while picking this image.

Meg and I recall a time years ago when we went bra shopping together at Victoria’s Secret in an especially dark period of singlehood. We each picked out the most expensive, bejeweled contraption of a bra we could find, and in a beautiful moment, discovered we fit into the same size! You would not guess by looking that she and I could fit into the same size bra. This renews my hope that the Traveling Pants are possible, and we continue.


Which sister are you?

-The boyfriend jeans throw me off. They are sort of actually cute? Or perhaps just so comfortable that I am fooled. They are so comfortable…I could pull these off…okay no, SNAP OUT OF IT. I am not a Madewell girl, I’m not ready for this level of trend.

-Find that my favorite pair is grey. This is a problem because I have come here for JEANS. Jeans are not supposed to be gray. Meg’s favorite pair is denim, torn at the knees, and fit her great.

-Am really starting to like the gray jeans and it’s making me sweat because they cost over one hundred dollars. Suddenly I remember the $50 Visa gift card I won at work that’s sitting on my dresser at home. I fall to my knees and wail “NOOOOOO!” because that could have made this purchase somewhat palatable.

-Grab a blouse to try on with my 2nd favorite pair of jeans. It’s the cutest thing in the world, and suddenly I am this girl:


I’m not wearing this outfit, but I am her in spirit you know? I have her essence.


-Decide I will get the blue denim. I probably also have to get the shirt too, until I look at the tag– it’s $80. I put it down, gently, as my heart rips in two.

-Meg texts her husband to forewarn him about the upcoming credit card charge, just so he doesn’t think it got stolen. I cringe imagining the trying-to-be-supportive-but-still-confused look on Scott’s face when he sees how much mine cost. We lament having not spent all our money on clothes while single, are uneasy with this strange new guilt.

-We part ways, a little giddy, a little dazed at having spent $128 dollars before tax on jeans. I go home and try them on with all my shoes. They look great. Phew!


Tuesday, September 6th:

-Wake in a panic, knowing I’ve made a mistake. I was supposed to get the gray ones! I liked them best, they fit me best, and who needs “blue jeans” anyway?

-I blitz to Madewell, gift card in hand. I walk in, grab the pants, but the salesgirl (thankfully different from yesterday) asks if I need any help. I tell her no, I just want to try on one pair real quick. She asks if I’ve tried the Skinny Boyfriend Jeans. I decline politely, but while trying on my grey pair she appears outside the curtain, saying she brought the boyfriend pair “just in case.” I agree to try them on because I am spineless.

-She brings me a pair of white Puma sneakers to try on with the boyfriend jeans, and she’s right — it’s so cute. It’s so cute and new! I love it! But I can’t buy sneakers AND jeans, and without the sneakers the jeans are not. I try to tell her that skinny is the cut for me, to which she responds she recently read an article in Refinery 29 about how skinny jeans are expected and boring now.

-Presented with these facts, I suppose maybe I just need to try them on at home. I buy the damn boyfriend jeans, and the grey jeans, making sure to secure the receipt.


Wednesday, September 7th:

-I, a 28-year-old woman, put on music while home alone and try on all the jeans with all my shoes.

Saturday, September 10th:

-Have a brilliant idea to do my fashion show for Scott. He says kind but unhelpful things like, “I think they all look good on you — just keep them all!” I appreciate his support but cannot allow it.

-Briefly yearn for female roommates.

-Make the mistake of also trying on all my Zara jeans. I’m struck by their cuteness and the fact that they cost 1/3 of the price.

-Exclaim, “I HATE CLOTHES!” from the bedroom, loud enough to make sure Scott and The Universe can hear me.

-Go to text all my friends pictures asking for their opinions. Realize the only ones I event took a photo of were the boyfriend jeans. Is it a sign? 


They’re cute. They are, aren’t they? Don’t tell me I don’t want to know.


-Long to live in a world where we all wear tunics. Give me a nice, shapeless bag of burlap, I will wear it every day and never complain about life in District 12!


Sunday, September 12th:

Have a moment of clarity where I realize that to be stylish you must invest a significant amount of either a) time or b) money. My behavior has demonstrated that I am willing to invest neither of these, which means I deserve clothing from Zara and Forever 21.

No mere mortal can resist.

Monday, September 13th:

-Wake, serenely, and put on the grey pants. They feel right. They’re not perfect, but no one is, and expecting perfection is not realistic. I’ve been through so much here, I would like to have something to show for it. This is a commitment, and I must choose to be committed each day. I choose the grey pants. I take everything else back.

Sunday, October 2nd:

I see a group of girlfriends, many who commented on my Facebook post. They ask excitedly, are those the new jeans?! They’re so cute! I have to tell them no, these are from Zara, $40.

Tuesday, October 18th:

I wear the grey jeans publicly but the tags are still on. I catch a reflection of myself and must admit they are one fine pair of pants, but see they still tug just so around my tweedle dee tummy.

Thursday, October 20th:

I take them back and get a size bigger. They are comfortable, they are almost as cute as the smaller size, I am taking steps towards maturity.

Today, October 28th:

Find myself looking at the photo of the Skinny Boyfriend Jeans.

I will probably go to Zara next time.

6 thoughts on “The Exact Emotional and Monetary Cost of a Good Pair of Jeans

  1. Karli says:

    Hahahaha I laughed out loud. Story of my life. Except when
    Madewell jeans go on sale I buy the ones I “like” instead of the full price ones in”love” cause they are such a good deal–look at all the money I’m saving! So now I have a closet of jeans and I’m still somehow, always searching for the perfect pair. But can I also mention one thing? Those skinny boyfriend are damn cute on you ?

  2. Sarah says:

    This was very recognisable and hilarious to read. I have been lucky enough to find my favourite jeans several years ago. Unfortunately, I moved abroad and they don’t sell them here so I occasionally buy some on eBay. They’re called MAC Dream jeans in case you’re interested (it’s a German brand). They’re not cheap, but they are so incredibly stretchy and comfy you could actually use them as pyjamas even though they really don’t look it.

    I also just wanted to mention how proud I am of you (even though I don’t really know you), of leaving your job to do something you’re really passionate about. It takes a lot of courage to do that, especially these days.

  3. Karlie says:

    I’m a friend of Anna Young (Dalton)’s, found your blog, and just have to say you’re freaking hilarious. We are the same person. I just got married and am terrified at the prospect of someone else being fully exposed to my super ridiculous shopping patterns (the waffling… the buying and returning… the rehashing…). I’ve been needing a new pair of jeans and this scared me enough to be satisfied with my terrible H&M pair for a few more months.

    • Rebbie says:

      Hi Karlie! Forgive me for being so slow in responding to you. Any friend of Anna’s is a friend of mine, and I’m so glad to know I am not alone in the struggle! Haha I’m sorry to have scared you, hopefully those H&M jeans are holding up okay 🙂 I’m going to enjoy the next few months of winter before it is spring and I must begin thinking of swimsuit shopping. Ugh.

  4. Mom says:

    I have just one thing to add. At least you don’t have to wear tall jeans. They are only available online. Try that on for size❗️

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