Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cross-dressing at the Gap

Now that it's stopped raining, and that the graduation-and-wedding festivities have concluded, the Belgians returned to the land of superior food quality, I've up and caught a bizarre cough-first cold, and have lost my voice. (Possible germ source: the adorable bichon who lives in our building, who ran up to me recently and gave me a surprise big kiss on the mouth. I did not mention this theory at Student Health, for fear of them putting "Another Insane Grad Student" in my file, if they hadn't already.) The whole seeing-NY-friends-and-profs bit will have to wait.

What has not waited: a quest for jeans that are not stretch pants. (Also: that don't leak dye even after many washes, and that don't show too much in the rear when I sit down.) Apparently all jeans on the market today have spandex or similar in them. Jeans made for women, that is. All-cotton exists for men and children - the Gap men's ended up fitting me better than kids' - oddly enough, the latter was a bit too big, the former, in the size I tried, a bit too snug. Overall, men's seemed the way to go, until, doing that test one does with jeans to make sure they're not too low in the back or tight in the waist, I sat down in them and discovered that there was indeed some, uh, extra fabric. No thanks. The only women's jeans in the entire universe that are not "stretch" come from American Apparel, and they were, I promise, the least flattering item of clothing I'd ever tried on, ever. (A.P.C. also has all-cotton, also - how lovely - without those streaks added to make jeans look worn, but $175...) In principle, I favor clothes that can be kept even when one changes size. In practice, I'd rather approach this by owning a pair a bit on the large size and not worrying about perfect fit than via jeggings.

Also: it's been years and years, so my once-vivid memories of going to elementary and middle school with the rich and famous are now a hazy blur that even the slice(s) of Pintailes I had the other day was not enough to summon all madeleine-like. Speaking of literature, one of my classmates from those days has a new novel out, with a co-writer, yes, but any book that takes the Fifi Meltzer of the Upper West Side approach to autobiographical fiction is surely from the heart. Things like this make me think I should follow through on those rare occasions when book agents read this ol' thing and think there's a book in me yet - one other than my dissertation, that is. I even have a new idea! It's about a young woman named Fifi who... no, it's actually just a popular-audience-intended version of one aspect of my dissertation, which is only vaguely autobiographical.


Britta said...

The last pair of all-cotton no stretch jeans I got were in China in 2006. They definitely kept me honest in terms of weight fluctuation (i.e. at various times I couldn't even get them on, when other jeans I'd bought at the same level of skinniness continued to be wearable.) They just recently developed a rip in the butt, but until then I wore them and it was kind of nice to remember what pre-stretch jeans felt like.

Recently though, I have just totally embraced the jeggings trend, and bought a pair of skin tight "rockstar jeans" from Old Navy for $10 (I guess they are technically not jeggings since they have pockets, but they are more jegging-like than actual jeggings I bought at a thriftstore, which are more skinny-jean like).

Withywindle said...

When they make the movie of your autobiographical novel, I want to be played by Steve Buscemi.

Flavia said...

I bought a pair of Fidelity Denim jeans this winter at the Nordstrom Rack. Had never heard of the brand, but they're awesome despite or probably because they do have some stretch: they're slightly boot-cut, slim but not tight through the leg, in a dark rinse and with a high rise.

They're sexy (in the no-nonsense, trousery way that jeans should be sexy), but because of the stretch are also the most insanely comfortable jeans I've ever owned. And they don't bleed in the wash. (I did have to have them hemmed up about four inches, though.)

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Britta and Flavia,

I get where you're coming from, and have mixed feelings re: stretch. My most flattering pair of pants - no, clothing item, period - are a pair of dark Uniqlo jeans, perfect fit (more straight than skinny, or maybe somewhere in between), medium-rise, etc. But for whatever reason, I associate the fact that even after so very many washes, they still get dye on my bag, and I'm pretty committed to wearing that bag every day. I suppose I imagine that all-cotton would go along with less enthusiastic dyeing, or just better quality overall.

Of course, it's all irrelevant now that it's 120 degrees every day in NY, so my uniform is now these, in hot pink. All cotton, at least!


You're correct in thinking that, if I were to write an autobiographical novel, I'd have to include regular blog commenters among the characters. Luckily, shy commenters, I'm writing no such thing.

Britta said...

In terms of leaky dye, I've found, weirdly enough, that stuff from H&M never runs. I've bought bright red and navy blue stuff which indicated warm wash, though I was always hesitant to wash them with things that I wouldn't want dyed those colors. Last night I washed a brand new pair of red underwear with all my other underwear and a white sheet I don't care about. I tested it first, and nothing ran, and my whites stayed white. The same with a red cardigan I have from them, and a red & white striped T-shirt. On the other hand, I also have a pair of dark rinse BR jeans that still run 2.5 years later (and turn my legs slightly blue). I always assumed more expensive stuff wouldn't run, but I guess that is not the case (or maybe BR isn't expensive enough). I don't own H&M dark rinse jeans though, so maybe they'd run too.

I like the shorts, if I hadn't just bought a very similar pair in grayish for about the same price from BR, I would get a pair. (I might still think about getting a pair, but I've bought a lot of stuff recently and I'm not sure my husband could handle more stuff.)

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


"I don't own H&M dark rinse jeans though, so maybe they'd run too."

See, this is the question! I own plenty of cheap, dark clothing, and do not find, as a rule, that it runs. The problem appears to be denim-specific. The only exception I've found, the only dark denim at a not-outrageous price point that promises not to do this, is the Gap's 1969 men's "selvage" or whatever, which, if they were a bit cheaper than $80-something, and if they did not have a certain crotch-enhancing quality, I'd now own.

Re: the shorts - now on sale for $34! And they've already received a compliment from a cashier at the local supermarket.