Showing My Ass
January 4, 2010 in Disasters
Last night I had a spiritual and sartorial revelation during dinner at a trendy restaurant with six women I barely knew. The night was billed as a “fabulous girls’ night out,” and was engineered by a two-bit Carrie Bradshaw type, a clothes whore with a closetful of designer clothes and the credit card debt to back it up. I assumed her friends were similarly inclined, and true enough, when I arrived at the table, they were all highlighted, accessorized, and Pilated to within an inch of their lives. I was prepared for this – I’d actually put on some makeup and thought through my outfit for once – so I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I sat down, and everything changed.
Let me back up for a second and explain how I got to this point. Every couple of years I come to the conclusion that none of the dozens of pairs of jeans I own “work,” and I go on a panicky buying spree. This is how I ended up in Bloomingdale’s Premium Denim department last week, asking a lovely salesgirl to help me find skinny jeans. At other times in fashion history these have been called stovepipes and cigarette pants, but at this moment, we’re calling them skinny jeans, which is a more apt name – it’s a prescription for the ideal wearer as well as a description of the cut. The jeans are mercilessly tight from the waist to the ankle, usually worn with stilettos or tucked into boots. If you’re not built like Audrey Hepburn or an Asian teenager (and I am not), this is a tough style to pull off. Nonetheless, I had convinced myself that I needed skinny jeans to be perfectly current, so there I stood in the dressing room packing myself into pair after pair of jeans, growing ever more despondent about the mismatch between my body and the fashion industry’s notion of how much fabric is required to cover it.
There is a reason I have so many pairs of jeans that are somehow wrong. I know when there is something fatally off with something I am buying, but the trying-on process is so harrowing and seems so doomed that when something fits, I have by then lost my judgment and will take anything. In this case, I finally found a pair of jeans that fit, but there were a few areas for concern. They were a very tight pair of black skinny jeans with a sort of distressed acid wash. They cost $215. Not a great choice for me, or for anyone, really. But I bought them. And last night, I wore them to dinner. And when I sat down, I felt the cold vinyl of the seat a little too clearly. Like, on my skin. I reached down and under to confirm that the jeans had yielded under the great pressures I had exerted upon them, and there was a 4-inch rip along the underside of my butt.
The woman across from me – a stranger – saw my face and asked with genuine concern, “are you okay? What happened?” I couldn’t speak. My hand was still tucked under me, fingering the rip. If I stood up, I would literally be showing my ass. Six pairs of plucked eyebrows around the table frowned in concern until I finally admitted that I had, in sum, split my pants. The outpouring of encouragement that followed would usually be reserved for someone who’d just received a cancer diagnosis. My tragedy became the group’s. I was offered long jackets (“don’t be silly, I won’t be cold!”), wraps (“you can wear it like a sarong!”), sweaters (“just tie it around your waist!”) and unwavering support (“that happened to me with my favorite pair of Sevens!”). I was made to stand up and walk away from the table to assess the ass exposure (“you can’t even see it!” and “that guy over there was totally checking you out!”). Drinks were bought for me. I drank them. And then it came to me: God was speaking to me through these jeans. He was saying, “trust your instincts, be yourself, and don’t buy stupid things just because other people are wearing them. But if you must buy ridiculous pants, and if you predictably bust open those pants in a public place, know that you will still be loved.”