Stretch Jeans: The Work of a Sadist or Marketing Genius?

When I was growing up, buying jeans was never fun, but it was pretty basic.  In the 80s, if you were fashionable, and female, you would lay down to wiggle into your Jordache or Sassoon jeans so that you could get the most skintight fit possible.  In the 90s things loosened up a bit, were high-waisted (horror) and figure fitting (no more lying down to get your jeans on).  Then low-waisted jeans became the rage (much more flattering but with the unfortunate side effect of leading to frequent thong sightings) and stretch began to sneak in to women’s jeans.  Having a little bit of stretch in your jeans is supposed to enhance the fit, comfort and tamp down on the muffin top.  Stretch, however, has been taken too far.

While doing some emergency jean shopping at the Gap yesterday (my jeans had sprung holes as I had accidentally – horror of horrors – but them in the dryer), the sales person advised me that “the jeans should be snugger than you would normally wear them because they will stretch out about half a size.”  This is not an unusual caution.  While buying Joe’s jeans at Nordstrom, I was advised to buy one size smaller than my actual size – basically, if you can barely button it, that’s the right size because the jeans will stretch out a lot.  Of course, during that stretching out period, you feel like you have a corset on your hips, but women are supposed to suck it up for fashion I guess (stilettos anyone?).

I bought a pair of Abercrombie jeans a few years ago that stretched out an entire size within hours.  The jeans would fit in the morning and be falling off your butt by afternoon.  I only wore them twice before giving up and giving them to Goodwill.

As a result of all this stretch nonsense, my jeans are always too tight when I buy them and then maybe are the right size or more likely are too big after the first time I wear them.  When traveling, this is a major problem on long trips and you end up having to schlep 3-4 pairs of jeans instead of 1-2 – especially as the fact that most jeans can no longer go in the dryer (WTF) means that washing your jeans on vacation takes planning and air-dry time. 

Thanks to this stretch phenomenon, I end up constantly having to buy jeans, and since jeans like Hudson, Rock n Republic and Joe’s are way upward of $150 ($99 at Nordstrom Rack if you can find your size) this is getting insanely expensive.  Is this the point?  Have the good ole marketing folks figured out that the best way to ramp up business is to make jeans that only fit sporadically?  Or are the designers just sadists?  I don’t know, but I would pay serious money for jeans that always stayed the same size.  Do they exist?  Will someone please make them?

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