Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Man Cave: Wearing the Pants Ain't What it Used to Be

No...I'm not talking about how the women's lib movement has changed a man's role in the family. I'm not talking about bringing home the bacon, wives working outside the home, or how children these days are more disrespectful than they used to be. I'm not talking about any of that crap.

I'm talking about literally wearing the pants, and it ain't pretty.

There used to be a time when buying a pear of men's jeans was as simple as going to the store and finding your size. The denim was sturdy and coarse, and you could have any color you wanted as long as it was blue. The seams weren't just held together by thread; they were reinforced with rivets. RIVETS. You left feeling manly about your purchase. This was clothes shopping the way men like to shop, with purpose and efficiency.

For the last month I have been looking for a pair of pants, and I've discovered a horrible truth: men are being trained to shop like women.

Men's jeans now come in every color of the rainbow. The stitching is bright and fancy, and the pockets are bejeweled with all manner of intricate doo-dads and sparklies. Fabric choices range from soft, to stretchy, to thin. You must choose between acid washed, stone washed, dirty washed, vintage washed, bleached, distressed, faded, and classic.

Instead of easy-to-understand terms like "loose" or "straight-leg", stores now name their various cuts with trendy boy's names like Butch, Justin, Carter, and Taylor. I can only assume these are the names of their male models. You know....those square-jawed, hollow-eyed, twenty-somethings who apparently haven't yet mastered buttoning their shirts or looking directly at a camera. I personally find this creepy and a little repulsive. Women may be cool with sharing their clothing, but men aren't. I have no interest in climbing into a pair of pants named for some fictional pretty-boy I don't even know.

But worst of all, by a wide margin, is the issue of size. The instinct to "measure twice and cut once" is hardwired into the DNA of every male. Measurements are the domain of men. They are constant, dependable, and accurate. They never lie...except in the world of clothing, were terms like "thirty inches" are apparently open to interpretation. I have a thirty inch waist and a thirty inch inseam. I have had for years. You see that fitting room photo at the top of the page...the one where my gut is erupting from the waistband like toothpaste, while my ankles sprout from the pant legs like I'm wearing some kind of fashion-forward man-capris? Those jeans are a "size 30/30".

Fine, I said. Whatever. Maybe this brand runs small. I'll just move up to a 32/32. The results were perfect...if I were a circus clown.

Now I could chalk this up to a bad day at the jeans factory if it was a one-time occurrence, but over the last month I have literally tried on at least a hundred pairs of jeans, of myriad brands and price-points, with similar results. I'm not sure if this is the result of companies moving production overseas or what, but it ain't gonna fly. And speaking of flies, I've also noticed a disturbing trend towards really short flies and very shallow pockets. Is this another cost-cutting move? Note to designers: men's pockets should be big enough to contain an entire hand. Flies should be similarly ample. Enough said.

I've heard my wife vent her own frustration a million times. "All I want is a pair of jeans that fit right and make me look good" has been her post-jeans-shopping-refrain for years. Hearing those words now fall from my own mouth doesn't just prove my point; it makes me feel unfit to be a man.


1 comment:

  1. OH. MY. HECK! I just giggled and nodded my headthrough that WHOLE post!

    James and I have been trying the same thing for him with similar results. We finally found a fairly good pair down at Renton Western Wear. I hope you can soon find a jean that work for you too! Then once you find it, BUY A TRUCK LOAD!