Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Seven Jeans for Ten Bucks

Women's denim has been a serious trend in the fashion world for years now. I'd read about flashy brands in fashion mags all through college, but it wasn't until I was working at Dilly Lily that I realized the extent of the madness. The other girls working with me for $10 or $12 bucks an hour were shelling out almost as much as $300 for a pair of jeans. I was shocked. How could they justify it? And what did their credit scores look like?

I've been a very loyal Gap jeans girl since the seventh grade...I need the stretch and I don't like the super low rises that other ladies my age seem to dig on. (I want my belly where no one else can see it thank you very much!) And of course it doesn't hurt that Gap sizes run big so you feel as though you've mysteriously and effortlessly lost ten pounds. After working there for years I know exactly which cut and size works for me, so I can walk right in, grab 'em off the shelf and walk right out again fifteen minutes and sixty dollars later new jeans in tow.

So when the only pair I brought with me to China began to show signs of the inevitable end, I was reluctant to go out looking. Chinese girls all seem to have bottoms the size of two largish navel oranges. Its not like I could be a plus size model or anything, its just that next to these women I'm a fee-fie-foe-strosity. In the U.S I wear a small or extra small and here in China I'm an extra large! Its all a little disconcerting.

Add to my denim shopping trepidation the strange fashion ideas floating around in this city. There is a firm and unyielding belief in the power of more more more. Its all about flash and (usually faux) logos and high heels. I began scoping out people's jeans carefully. What I found was not encouraging.

There were stone washes with rhinestones on every conceivable surface, bulky denim bows on pockets, spray painted graffiti, rips, safety pins, crazy zippers, asymmetrical buttons and artfully bleach splattered numbers but nowhere were the simple, dark wash jeans I needed to make it through three more weeks of Shenzhen winter. (A side note: I'd always assumed womankind's desire to minimize thighs, hips and butt was universal. I was dead wrong. Turns out that navel orange bottom women are looking for a bit of amplification in the form of oversize bows, billowing cargo pockets and pleats that don't quit.)

Certainly I could hold out just a little longer. Just until February 12th when we head back to the states. I had to. And just then the last little threads gave up. Suddenly my jeans were only fit for a Britney Spears crotch shot.

I went to Nuren Shi Jie with fear in my heart, armed with my defeated jeans for butt comparison purposes. (Why bother trying to shimmy in and out of endless pairs of navel orange bottom jeans? Might as well begin the torture in the right ballpark.) I found a shop that had a large selection piled relatively neatly on the trash bag lined floor. I began digging through and shockingly discovered a few pairs of Paper Denim and Seven Jeans in the right bottom ballpark. I was floored. Sure, there were eight inches of excess denim crumpling around my ankles like the Wicked Witch at the bitter end, but the butt fit!

I snatched them up and took them straight to my tailor who even used the original hem to fix them right up. Total cost? Twelve bucks. I may never go back to the Gap.

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