The Economics of Denim.

My inbox stays constantly packed with emails of butts in jeans. Texts of butts in jeans. Questions about butts and jeans. I suppose when one is willing to show the world photos of their own butt in dozens of pairs of jeans in multiple posts over five years, people feel comfortable sharing their own butt woes with that person.

And I’m totally cool with that, and answer every single one of them.

But every now and then, I get a real jewel of an email. An email that captures some essence of the Denim Quest that I have not yet covered.

This is one of those emails.

Gina is an American living in Egypt, and after she read my jeans posts, she felt the need to explain to her husband why she needed more jeans. But instead of saying it, she decided that writing him a letter would help him better grasp the gravity of the situation.

I think that all women everywhere can resonate with her explanation, and perhaps use it to help educate their own husband next time they need to go shopping.


Pile of Jeans

To my husband,

To help you better understand women, shopping, and the giant stack of jeans in my closet:

In my closet, I have 10 pairs of jeans. You might think this is plenty… at least for a couple of years.

And I would like to agree with you.

But I can’t, because there are so many factors involved in a pair of woman’s jeans that keep them from being a simple, easily replaced staple in one’s wardrobe.

Let me explain a little bit about my 10 pairs of jeans.

Pair 1 is “Skinny”, specifically designed for wearing only with boots or flats.

Pair 2 I can barely button around my waist, but the legs on them look great with tunics, a staple here in Cairo, so I keep them in my closet but only put them on when I’m wearing a tunic.

Pairs 3 and 4: should only be worn with boots AND tunics because they shrank in the wash. They are now tight everywhere AND short. Boots cover up the shortness nicely, and because the pants are tight, they need a longer blouse to cover the tummy area.

Pair 5 is perfect, and they can be worn with most everything EXCEPT they cannot be worn to dressy events because they are “distressed” (which is ironically also the feeling I get when I survey my current collection of jeans.)

Pair 6 has RIDICULOUS pockets (even YOU admitted to this when you saw them) and I want to toss them out, but they are a 200 dollar pair of designer jeans that were given to me, and I hate throwing out gifts.

Pair 7 is my designated “dressy” jeans. That means they are on reserve, only to be worn now and then to “dressy jeans” appropriate events. Light usage keeps their tone rich and dark, prolonging their fateful demotion to “casual jeans.”

Pair 8 is adorable, and can be worn with most things, but tiny holes are starting to appear at the top of the back pockets, so like my “dressy jeans”, I only wear them every now and then in an attempt to slow down their trip to the trash.

Pair 9 I bought in an unsuccessful attempt to acquire another pair of dressy jeans, but they are actually so long I have to cuff them, and the fabric bags at my knees making me look like I’m sitting down when I’m not. They are just a bad fit all around, but I spent a chunk of money for them, so I hate to throw them out.

(I mostly wear them around the house when no one is home.)

Lastly, pair 10 are capri jeans, which are good for warm, sunny, informal occasions and should only be worn in the summer time (possibly in late spring or early fall.)

Now, with all this in mind, I have to consider these jeans in light of my body weight, which fluctuates monthly (not to mention when dieting.) Therefore, these jeans will look and feel differently at various times of the month – sometimes even at various times within the same week.

So now you see that my jeans are never all available to me at one time. In fact, I’m doing great if one pair fits (literally and figuratively) for the appropriate occasion. To be cliché, not all jeans are created equal. They are designed for various styles, and once in a woman’s closet, will dwell there in various stages of wear and tear. Thus, shopping for jeans is complicated. When a woman shops for jeans, she might be specifically looking to replace a particular pair, but can also at the same time be scouting out possible replacements for jeans that are coming to the end of their life span or the end of their cycle (a cycle such as the migration of a well worn pair of “dressy jeans” into the “casual” category, thus opening up a vacancy for a new pair of “dressy jeans”.)

On top of ALL of this (ha ha – you thought I was finished!): Designers like to tweak the styles just a bit so that their jean designs are NEW and FRESH on a somewhat regular basis.  Consequently, a pair that I carefully selected last year and (hallelujah! Still work after 365 days) may not be on the racks, in stock, available for back order, or even selling on EBay. So an equal or better replacement jean is never a guarantee. We ladies buy when and where we can, and we always approach the jeans section with the mindset that we have NO idea if we will find what we are looking for.

Lastly, (as I’ve implied throughout this article) countless other women are in my same dilemma and buying alongside me, creating yet another reason that jeans might be unavailable, sold out, or not within my grasp. That is why women always want to check out the jeans section in stores, even when we just purchased a pair an hour earlier. It’s a race of sorts, with the prize being only temporary for the winner: A pair of jeans that looks good in the dressing room and has the potential to look good after being paid for.

The most frustrating truth of all? This is just a tiny glimpse into our world of clothing. These difficulties are not just with jeans, but with many other items in our wardrobe.  However, we are brave, and unwavering in our resolve to keep our wardrobes nice. The clothing search is always on, and as long as husbands everywhere don’t insist we live in nudist camps, we will never give up.

GinaGina is a writer, studies languages, and is unashamedly passionate about fashion.

She lives with her husband in Cairo and has no children, but they do have a large Siamese cat.

Her favorite phrase in Egyptian Arabic is “Mafish Mushkila”, which means “no worries.”