Why I Didn’t Buy Pants for Five Years

Baby me, circa 2009

Circa 2009, in Anti-Sweden Denim

I have a confession to make: I haven’t worn pants in five years. Maybe leggings on a lazy day or yoga pants to the gym, but I have been living in terror of jeans shopping for half a decade. Let me repeat: I am a grown-ass woman scared of pants. 

The last time I wore jeans every day, I was only a few years out of college. I was working part time as a photo studio assistant and writing for an editorial/e-commerce site that paid me in gift cards, which meant I spent 20 hours a week moving 70-pound studio backdrops, got most of my calories from catered photoshoots and open bars, and lived in a universe where discarded samples and employee-discount designer duds rained like manna from the heavens. I was definitely underweight and couldn’t afford lunch, but damned if I wasn’t head-to-toe Helmut Lang.

Fast forward a few years to a more stable existence — gainful employment, the ability to afford things like, oh, I don’t know, groceries — and my body had returned to its usual healthy state, which is much closer to “curvy” than “gamine.” I didn’t feel bad about returning to my usual weight and most of my clothes still fit. Except the jeans, which started kind of cramping my style. Literally. I wore them until it hurt, but still couldn’t bear to part with them. The A.P.C. selvedge denim! The slash-knee Rad Hourani pants! Those perfectly faded Acnes, the stuff of Swedish models-off-duty! How could I let those go?

I prefer the ostrich method of coping, so I threw all but the two largest pairs in a box and pretended nothing had happened. All my other clothes still fit perfectly, so, uh, clearly my style had just evolved from androgynous skinny jeans and tees to girly fit and flare dresses and wedge heels. I’ve held up this ruse for half a decade, but do you have any idea how exhausting it is to wear a dress and tights every day from October to March? Every load of laundry produces an abomination of tightly-knotted hosiery coiled together with the tenacity of adhesive-coated Apple earbud wires.

I admit it: I was afraid to buy anything new. Being sample size was easy. Everything fit, probably because there wasn’t much of me to fit. Prior to and after that, shopping was a seventh level of hell-type activity. I’m both tall and pear-shaped, so every garment in existence seems confused about where my actual waist, hips and ankles are. Pants are the worst, but finding clothes that fit in general is hard. When ASOS Tall launched last year, it was a godsend. I got my first wrap dress that actually wrapped at my waist and not my ribcage, and my first wedgie-free romper. I began to suspect that maybe, just maybe, my pants were out there.

And so the last time I did laundry, as I sat untangling yet another hairball of hosiery, I went for it and ordered a pair of jeans. Even after the package arrived, I nervously let it sit untouched for three days. Lo and behold, when I finally put them on, I was amazed. They were a bit too large — I had no idea what size I was — but slid over my hips and buttoned with ease. The rise hit at my natural waist, and the inseam was perfect. What had I been so afraid of? 


2015 and not sure what to do with my hands in photos

I stared at myself in the mirror. I didn’t look like the wiry girl who wore those Current/Elliot samples, but I looked…fine. Good, even. Actually, maybe kind of great? They fit my body, putting them on didn’t induce pain or self-loathing, and everyone looks fab in black skinny jeans. Also: SO COMFORTABLE. I had been so wrapped up in my anxiety about buying a larger size that I’d entirely forgotten the convenience of pants. And the styling options! Crop tops, drapey sweaters, all those sandals and oxfords that look weird with skirts. I resolved to add some pants to the dressing room pile the next time I went shopping. Turns out, they’re not so scary when you try on ones that, you know, aren’t way too small. Incredible! Who knew?

As for those old designer jeans I was so loath to part with? I still get to admire them, since I gave them all to my beanpole of a boyfriend. And honestly, he looks way better in them than I ever did.