fashion

'I’m a short size 14-16. This is my quest for finding the right jeans.'

It’s them and me; staring each other down from our separate sides of the cubicle.

I take a deep breath, give them one final look from top to bottom before cautiously taking a step forward.

My palms are clammy. The fear is palpable. 

How did I get here? I was only meant to be returning a jumper. 

And now, I’m… shopping for jeans

Here's Mia Freedman's top 10 pairs of jeans. Article continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

I can hear the collective sighs and groans from here. Shopping for jeans is up there with… shopping for bras. And pap tests. (Oh, you’re overdue? Pause where you are and make that appointment now, I’ll wait!).

Basically, (and welcome back) shopping for jeans is gruelling, but necessary. 

And as a short, curvy size 14-16 woman, it’s a whole other level of urgh.

There is much to consider: calves, thighs, hips. And hurrah, you got them on - and over your ass - and the zipper is up too!

But whoa Nelly! Hold on the excitement for a moment.

Because the waist might be perfect, but it’s baggy around the groin.

And it sits well around the groin, but your calves feel like they’re in a vice.

And your calves are comfy, but the legs are wayyy too long. 

Oh, and then you look in the mirror. 

The colour is too “dirty” - or too blue or too light - or there are too many rips, and the denim isn’t stretchy enough, or the cut makes you look… like a dumpling. 

Shopping for jeans is a lot. It usually takes weeks - nay, months - to psych myself up for before I even venture into a store. Because, I’m sorry, some things just cannot be bought online. 

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And last weekend, I did something crazy.

Heady with the glee of $130 going back into my wallet from my return, I found myself pacing towards the jeans.

It was on a whim. But also not, too. 

I’ve needed new jeans for a while now. And with Melbourne’s savage winter, and all of my linen pants shoved to the back of my closet, I had been subsisting on one pair of black pants. 

Because for months, I haven’t just needed new jeans.

I’ve needed new, bigger jeans.

And here’s the f**ked up thing: I refused to let myself have them.

Because I have perfectly good jeans hanging in my closet - fitted and indigo, with frayed bottoms and stonewashed, and charcoal in colour too. 

They’re in size 12s and small size 14s. But none of them fit now. 

Definitely not the tight ones, certainly not the stretchier ones, and not even the ‘biggest’ ones. 

And rather than practice the #selflove that I’m meant to, and accept that this is me for now and that's okay, I subconsciously punished myself instead. 

You’ve put on weight. If you want to wear jeans, you need to earn them. Lose the weight. 

Because as much as I also heard my inner Lizzo telling me how beautiful I still am, and despite my embrace of the body positivity movement, when it came to judging myself, not even I realised the extent of the toxic diet culture of the 90s and glorification of skinny that had remained so deeply embedded within - and oooft, I have some unlearning to do.

But somehow louder than my inner conflict was frustration, too. Fashion has always been fun and a form of self expression for me, but it’s tricky to feel expressed or inspired when your winter wardrobe centres on one humble pair of pants. 

And that had made me feel even worse about myself. 

So bugger it, I thought.

And I did my hair toss, checked my nails… and strode into Kmart. 

The jeans mission.

Now, I’ve got to admit - I’ve never been a Kmart girl for clothes. I’ve got nothing against it, I’ve just never had much success. But with all those jeans still hanging in my closet - and subconscious - I didn’t want to spend too much on my new purchase (baby steps). 

Normally my jeans would start from $100 upwards. Not today. 

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With my best friend cheering me along on the phone, I circled the aisles. Nothing stood out to me. 

And then, one pair. Black, high-waisted and skinny-legged. 

Now, pipe down Gen Z, because yes, I got the memo, and I know the skinny-legged jeans are terribly uncool, but hear me out…

Skinny-legged jeans were my holy grail until, I admit, I buckled to the trends, and my last couple of denim purchases were boyfriend cut or wide-legged and cropped. 

But here’s the thing: they really didn’t look so good on me. 

I have short, thick legs. Fact. And unless I pair those cuts with some sky high stilettos, on my body, I feel frumpy.

So, I went back to my roots, plucked a size 16 pair of the skinny-legged Feel Good Jean, said a short prayer, and headed for the fitting rooms. 

The verdict.

We stared at each other for a good minute. 

Then, like ripping off a bandaid, I quickly plucked them off the hanger and on to my body - past my calves, and thighs, and ass and... ohhh the zipper is up?!

I turned to wince at myself in the mirror - and I was not disappointed. 

Despite being super fitted and high-waisted, they are also super stretchy, but nail the balance of smoothing you out and holding you in all the right places. 

And the best bit - they're $25 (and run from sizes from 6-20). Delight!

Normally what would take months of dread and a full day of pacing from shop to shop to find the perfect pair of jeans - if I'm lucky - was today achieved in 10 minutes. 

And maybe it was the relief, maybe the sheer joy; but as I made my way to the checkout, I detoured back and grabbed another style - which I bought - without even trying on. 

The cockiness. 

This pair was the Super High Rise Straight Jeans in a light blue. $22. (Our Fashion Editor actually vouched for this pair back in 2020, and they're still in stock, so they must be good, right?)

I got them home, and... Bloody hell, they actually fit too!

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In the wild.

Now, it’s all good and well to pace around a fitting room, posturing strange leg gestures you most certainly would never do in the everyday, but here's the true test: How are they in the wild?

Brilliant. Both of them.

I’ve always been a fan of the boot tuck - and I know, that also went ‘out’ with the supposed death of skinny jeans - but it lives again! This look elongates my legs in the black pair, and I am here for it.

All hail the skinny-legged jean! Image: Supplied.  

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So far, I’ve coupled them with a few different knits, and feel cosy and relaxed, yet put together.

As for the light blue straight legs, I’m OBSESSED. They are a smidge more comfortable than the skinny-legged jeans, and I love the colour. The denim is also lovely and soft and has some stretch too. Many ticks! I adore how they look with my blazers, and I can’t wait to put them together with a linen shirt and some pointy heels for a casual dinner as the weather warms up. 

OBSESSED, I say. Image: Supplied. 

Bottom line?

I was an idiot. 

For months, I deprived myself of jeans - and joy - because I gained some weight. 

And yet, with one brief shopping trip, I scored myself two very different pairs of jeans for under $50, and my wardrobe options have opened up again. My confidence has too.

The one thing that I got right? Saying screw the trends. Just do you. Get what looks and feels good to you - on your body. 

Because while these might be my largest pairs of jeans yet, I feel good as hell.

Keen to read more from Rebecca Davis? You can find her articles here, or follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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