From the Front Lines of the Jean Wars

My jeans ripped a few days ago, precipitating an uncomfortable discovery: I only have one pair of useful pants, and it’s that one. An inexcusable situation, perhaps, but I submit that, as a female, finding one pair of pants was plenty hard enough. Males might not get why this is a problem, so I’ll explain.

Male pants have two measurements in known increments- inches around, and inches down. When you buy pants, you find your two numbers, and you’re done.

/rant/ For ladies’ pants, there is a number on your pants, but none of those numbers signify anything. Not only do sizes vary among brands- an 8 in one pair may be larger than a 10 in another brand- but also the allowance for different anatomical bits is different in each kind of jeans, both among brand and style of jean. One brand may be cut for thighless ladies, while another expects a little badonkadonk (take that, spell check). There is usually no identifier of length, beyond “regular” and “tall”, whatever that means. An armful of jeans covering the upper and lower limits of your hypothetical size- say, grab everything you see from size 8 to size 12- is only 30% likely to yield an acceptably fitting pair of pants. Beyond sizing, females also have to contend with the proliferation of “stretch” jeans, which are allegedly more “comfortable” but usually just tend to be “oh my that’s very tight”. Add the number of styles to chose from- flares, hiphuggers, low-rise, mid-rise, navel-chafing, “skinny”, straight leg, “boyfriend”, tapered, boot cut, etc. Finally, add a likelihood of ridiculous tearings, bleachings, coloring, sequins, or flaming butterfly patches. So even if you do find a pair of fitting jeans, they’ll look ridiculous anyway. /end rant/

To summarize: shopping for lady pants is nasty, brutish, and really, really, really long. Smart ladies find one style, brand, and size that works, and never have to do it again. I got my current excellent pants at a thrift store. I can’t buy them from the original label- not only are they probably made with sweatshop labor from unsustainably grown and dyed material, but they’re not even being made anymore. Honestly, given how much I like them and how hard that is to find, I’d probably buy them again anyway even given ethical considerations, but the second part is the clincher, and forces me to live my goals.

Point being: I need a pair of pants post haste, and seeing how I’m working on the sustainable thing, I should get a pair of earth-friendly ones.

There are a few brands making jeans from sustainable materials in an ethical way. The more mainstream Levi’s sells a line of organic cotton jeans, but no word on if they’re made in sweatshops or not. A quick search for organic cotton jeans turned up a bunch of specialty stores selling them, including REI and some “green” websites.

I’ve ordered a pair from rawganique, and I have high hopes for them. They’re made from organic cotton and for fair wages. Check out their website, these people are serious hippies. They operate on just solar and wind power! Now to tie in that unnecessary-seeming rant: order jeans online! I must be crazy! How many times will I have to return them before I find the right fit? I hope not more than 16! But get this: they post the measurements (towards the bottom of the page) their womens’ sizes are based on. Plus, in most sizes there is a choice of two leg lengths, in real inch-type units. Grab a tape measure and get peace of mind. I expect them any day now, which is good, since these patches won’t last much longer. I will report back on their quality, and wear them about- after all, they’ll be my only pair of useful pants.

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4 Responses to “From the Front Lines of the Jean Wars”


  1. 1 Kestrel November 20, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Nyaaah, men’s sizes are actually, you know, organized. And delineated. Hell, and usually sorted by color, too, at least if one shops at Sym’s.

    For serious, though, why DON’T women standardize sizing? Yes, women’s bodies are usually more multidimensional (more bits of them to vary from woman to woman, not a fat joke) than mens’, but can’t you just make a slightly more complex list of parameters? Are US women THAT insecure about their bodies? Do they have this same idiotic problem in Europe, too?

    Anyway, it makes us shopping for you lot a lot more difficult.

  2. 2 Biking Person November 20, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Keep us updated on how that goes… I know places like REI sell more eco- friendly things – a pair of their organic cotton blend pants caught my eye in their shiny tempting catalog… and places like Patagonia utilize stinky capilene garments that satisfied customers mail back when they’re through to melt down into new (not-stinky) capilene undergarments. Perfect for those days when the temperature’s below freezing and one is definitely not looking forward to freezing while riding one’s bike to work… not that I know anything about that 😉

  3. 3 virescent November 28, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    So I got the pants toward the end of last week, aaand! They don’t fit. Not remotely close. Pardon me while I sigh heavily. Either they sent the wrong style, or their “low rise” variety end about an inch above where one’s legs begin. Oh my, indeed. I’ll send them back and try another style (I need to call someone in customer service and ask a few questions about that), but if the next pair don’t work I’m going to have to think of something else. Shipping pants back and forth 10 times negates their ecoworthiness. Meanwhile, I guess I’ll have to mend my jeans again and cross more fingers so they hold up a few more weeks.


  1. 1 Green Makes My Life Complicated: Pants Edition « Virescent Trackback on May 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

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