The Pants Fairy


Aside from the cashier that seemed somewhat reluctant to engage in conversation with the woman who had just handed her $122 in moist bills, I didn’t have any problems during my shopping trip at Kohl’s. It was rainy and humid here in lovely Northern New Jersey today and my wallet is not big enough to hold all the small bills that I tend to accumulate in my stripping job. Pleather, as it turns out is not water-resistant. Who knew?

Also on a positive note, my search for a pair of black pants has, at long last, come to a fruitful end. I expended less energy buying my wedding dress. This adventure in pants buying began six weeks ago. Indiana Jones found the Ark of the Covenant in less time and may, in fact, have been less sweaty and exhausted at the end of his quest than I was at the end of mine.

To say that I don’t like to shop is an understatement. I’d rather spend my time coaxing penguins to fly. And I would have to go to Antarctica to do that. And don’t think I didn’t toy with that idea. Let’s face it, fashion is probably of little concern there— to the other tundra-dweller that might happen along and certainly to the penguins. This activity, unlike pant purchasing, would also, obviously, involve birds, which I have no fondness for. But at least it would be cooler.

For the life of me I cannot fathom why retail clothing establishments have decided that setting the thermostat to a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit equates to brisk sales. It’s as if someone is conducting an experiment to determine whether their products will hold up in their future location— on Mars.

The hottest part of the already surface-of-the-sun hot stores are, without a doubt, the dressing closets (I refuse to call them “rooms”). There is no air circulation in these areas either. Don’t even get me started on how I always manage to choose the closet with the broken door and/or the one with the straight pins all over the floor. It is here, though, in the hottest, most oxygen-deprived area that I have to wrestle my clothes off, their clothes on, and vice-versa. By the time I have tried on one thing I am a sticky, perspiring mess with at least one or two pinholes in my feet. I don’t even want to think about where those pins are manufactured or the lax immunization standards adhered to in that third-world pin-making hotbed of disease.

As if entering the wall of heat isn’t enough, the policy of allowing five or six garments at a time contributes to my crankiness. A policy that I neither understand, condone, nor adhere to. Because it’s stupid. If I’m going to steal something it doesn’t matter how many things I went in with. I do not argue with the closet attendant (because other than the bathroom matron, who has a worse job than her in this establishment?), I just refuse to comply. Usually after I have spent an hour selecting fifteen pairs of pants (five styles in three different sizes), I look like a person who should not be tangled with. I don’t fall for the whole, “take six in and leave the other nine out here and I will switch them out for you” bullshit either. Because the minute I need them, the closet monitor is nowhere to be found. So, there I am. Pinfooted and in my underwear with my head stuck out the door, hollering, “Hello. Hello. Fallujah. Fallujah? Are you there, Fallujah?”, while dangling six pair of pants out the crack of the door in what is the fitting area equivalent to raising the white flag, which feels like defeat. And Fallujah? She’s surrendered, too, to the need for coffee, a bathroom break, or a chit-chat with her coworkers. Who can blame her? I don’t want to be here either.

I have been experiencing this scenario for the past month-and-a-half when, as you may remember, I was chosen for a supervisory position at work. Currently I am still training and have continued to rely on the one outfit that I have in my closet that is suitable for work (i.e., it doesn’t include leggings, sweatpants, jeans, or a party dress). It’s my “go to” ensemble. It goes to Back-to-School night and viewings of the dead, for the most part. By next week I’ll have to change it up though. Thus, the need for the black trousers. (And a couple of shirts and jackets/sweaters.) I have worked in either restaurants and/or doctor’s offices over the last thirty years. So, I have worn either a uniform or scrubs. I haven’t really had to shop for business attire, well, ever. I actually thought it would be fun, for a change, to buy and wear things of my own choosing.

Let me tell you how fun it is not. We’ll stay focused on the pants nightmare for the moment. The styles or “fits” as it turns out run from Modern to Classic. Some manufacturers throw in Curvy and Slim somewhere solely, I am convinced, to further confuse the issue. Some even combine them, as in Modern Curvy or Classic Slim. Oh, my God. I had no idea what any of this meant, nor do they tell you what these things mean. Not on the label. Not on the signage. You just have to guess. I am no more curvaceous than I am slim. I like to think I am a Classic. Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Dire Straits, and Guns n’ Roses come to mind. But, I listen to The Killers, Radiohead, and Mumford and Sons. Doesn’t that make me Modern?

None of this nomenclature makes much sense to me. What I have discovered is that Classic means that the waistband falls somewhere between the bottom of your breasts and above your belly button; Modern waistbands are designed to sit below your bellybutton, but sometimes that means right above the crack of your ass. Petites require going up a size, in any cut. Just when I was feeling good about myself. Ah, well. I’m fairly shortwaisted, so the Modern cut seemed more suited to my body structure.

Then, of course, I was faced with the whole leg cut dilemma. There’s wide-leg, tapered, boot cut, and skinny. Again, every manufacturer defines these things differently. It’s a nightmare. Ultimately I settled on a size 14P, Modern Slim with a tapered leg. Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! And then I realized that these pants had NO pockets. Just when I was about to pull my hair out, I spotted a pair that seemed to be nearly identical to the pants without the pockets. It was almost too much to hope for. I felt like I had stumbled upon the Holy Grail of pants. They were, indeed, the same size, cut, and leg opening and they had pockets and belt loops. Woo fucking hoo! I think I actually said a little prayer. To the pants fairy. I grabbed them, tried them on and bought them immediately. They weren’t even on sale. And I didn’t even care. If twenty years ago anyone had told me that I would have a mildly religious experience in a Kohl’s department store over a pair of pants, I would have asked them what kind of shit they were smoking.

When I got home, very pleased with myself, my husband asked me why I hadn’t bought two pairs. I started to explain and then I realized that men just do not understand this sort of thing. I couldn’t possibly expect two miracles in one day. That would be too much to hope for. And it might anger the sweater fairy, who I may need tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “The Pants Fairy

  1. peachyteachy says:

    I am just glad that you lived to write about it. I am comforted by the fact that I have no money to spend on anything until my next payday, so shopping trauma will be postponed.

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  2. valleygirl96 says:

    Holy cow this is so true – and hillarious! Why is it that black pants are about the most difficult freaking thing on the planet to buy? I like the idea of shopping in the abstract, when it’s a hobby and not a quest. The minute I HAVE to find anything in particular I feel like the gods of the universe conspire against me. Let me know where i can get me one of those fairies!

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  3. Great post! I think every woman can relate to this! I didn’t know the stores turned the temperature up…I thought I was always sweating from panicking! I only go shopping when I really need something for a party or an occasion and I wait until the day before to go shopping. I can never find anything and it turns into major gut churning pressure!

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  4. why am I here in a handbasket? says:

    such a dilemma. It’s the same thing when buying jeans, I’m short. I buy the short length but they don’t carry them in the stores, you have to buy them online. if I buy the short, I have to wear flats with them. If I buy the regular, I can wear a heel but how often does that happen and then they’re too long to wear flats with them. If I were only 2 inches taller, I wouldn’t have this issue.

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