Clothes make the man; shopping for clothes makes this man crazy 10

I’m not much of a clothes guy, but since I have been asked (and by “asked,” I mean “ordered by a judge”) to be fully clothed any time I appear in public, from time to time I have to go shopping.

Last weekend was just such an occasion – I had to buy some new jeans. And, at the risk of sounding like an old fart, I’d like to ask a very simple and very sincere question: What the fuck is up with jeans theses days?

Back in the day, buying jeans was simple. There was one manufacturer – Levi Strauss – and one style – 501s. You’d buy them two inches too long and two inches too big in the waist because you knew they’d shrink like crazy. Plus, they were stiff as a board. In fact, you’d have to ask your mom to wash them a couple of dozen times before you wore them; otherwise, you ran the very real risk of abrading your genitals down to a nub.

Those days are gone. Today, jeans come in a dizzying number of styles from a plethora of manufacturers. And yet, it seems impossible for me to find a pair I’d actually wear.

As I said, I went out last week to buy some new jeans. I was doing so mainly because my wife said I needed them. She didn’t come out and say, “Dear, you need some new jeans,” but I’ve been married to her so long that I can read her like a book. For instance, I’ll put on my favorite pair and she’ll say something subtle, like “Gosh – is it time to mow the lawn again?” or, “Say, that reminds me – I just sent 50 bucks to Clothe the Children,” or perhaps, “So — working undercover at the homeless shelter, are we?”

Anyway, I go to the mall on a quest for denim. Five (OK, maybe 10) years ago, I bought the aforementioned favorite jeans, and they were a thing of beauty — dark blue, no fraying and no holes. If you’re under 30, you’ll just have to take my word for this, but they actually looked new.

I was hoping to buy a similar pair but everything I saw – I swear to god – looked worse than the jeans I was trying to replace. One looked like it had perhaps lined the bottom of a litter box for a year. Another appeared to have been involved in some sort of industrial accident. For a fleeting moment, I thought I was in a Goodwill store in Bangladesh – only no self-respecting Bangladeshi would have been caught dead in these rags.

I have to hand it to marketers — anyone who can convince the jeans-buying public to pay sixty bones for jeans that the Salvation Army would reject is a genius. An evil genius, sure, but a genius just the same. In fact, I bet that when he’s not busy pimping his book or drowning puppies, Karl Rove consults for these guys.

At any rate, I still don’t have any new pants. But I refuse to give up. I’m going out again this weekend, and I don’t care how far I have to go in my quest for a wearable pair of jeans. Does anyone know how to say, “Driver, take me to the nearest Goodwill,” in Hindi?


  1. neighbor jeff…
    cabela’s in buda…now i have to ask myself…why at 5:17 a.m. on a Friday morning am I recommending a business establishment where you can go buy jeans..oh, and don’t forget to go look at the stuffed animal zoo and the aquarium
    located throughout the store…fish are fed at 9:00 a.m. on Sundays..oh mine, now I have turned into an employee of the Buda Chamber of Commerce..i need a life…your 78704 home girl, Laura

  2. “In fact, you’d have to ask your mom to wash them a couple of dozen times before you wore them; otherwise, you ran the very real risk of abrading your genitals down to a nub.”

    I can’t confirm it, but word on the street is that Jeff learned this the hard way …

  3. I’m sorry you’re having to waste so much time on a task that used to be the clothes-shopping equivalent of running to 7-11 for a tallboy and beef jerky stick.

    On the other hand this sartorial trend, like many others in recent years, has to be great for the self-esteem of homeless people everywhere. No longer do they have to feel shame for lurching around rheumy-eyed and unshaven with greasy, matted hair, mangled thrift store shirt, jeans like the ones you describe and worn-out bowling shoes retrieved from the Dart Bowl dumpster. That’s exactly how every 20-something Hollywood heartthrob looks these days — for a lot less cheddar!

  4. I’ve settled in on either Carharts, or Eddie Bauer’s classic denims.

    Both are old school, real denim, and cut for our age group.

    I know this sounds like old fart bullshit, but the new “in” thing with denim is the substandard, cheap, “stripe shirt” Indo-chinese, version of denim that is not the full cord true twill denim that we and our forbears fully understood to be a high quality product.

    Fuck cheap, empty headed, pop-fashion. Give me the real shit.

  5. I am perversely proud of still wearing some things I wore during my California misadventure, which ended in 1992. They weren’t fashionable then, either.

  6. I can’t afford $45 Levi’s anymore. I spend $12 on Walmart Faded Glory, regular zip-up, no frills jeans. I’m surprised they have back pockets! Just as happy with those as with Levi’s 505’s. I know…WM = Satan. But I’m poor.

    Good luck on your quest!

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