Gemma's adventures in shopping: jeans
Gemma Cartwright writes...
Lucky me. As editor, I've been given the mammoth task of writing the first ever Catwalk Queen column. You'll be seeing a lot more of these in the future, not only from the regular CQ team, but from some guest writers as well. We'll be discussing our shopping and style experiences from all points of view, as well as giving our thoughts on what's been going on in the big wide world of fashion. Everyone has their own theme, and my column is an all-encompassing shopping guide, entitled 'Gemma's adventures in shopping'. I'll be taking you along with me as I attempt to restock my wardrobe with everything from bras to ballgowns, beginning this week with my experiences in finding those elusive 'perfect' jeans...
Like just about every woman on the planet, I have various hang-ups about my body, and they're not made any better by awful shopping trips to find new pairs of jeans. In 23 years, I think I've had two pairs of jeans I liked that actually fit me properly. Three at a push.
I stupidly got it into my head recently that it would be wonderful to buy some Cheap Monday jeans. They're touted as the budget designer find, all the style with a third of the price tag. Flash forward to me feeling like a heifer in Urban Outfitters as I held the largest size against my waist and quickly realised there was no way in hell it would fit me unless I had a quick gastric band fitted. Now I'm not rake thin, but I'm not particularly big any more (you've seen the videos) so this just pissed me off. The UK average is a 16, for god's sake.
Gap drives me equally insane. I love their jeans with all my heart, and am currently wearing a pair of curvy bootcuts (found at an outlet for about £10 while in the US on holiday). However, shopping there is still a nightmare. Once you get over the initial thrill (in the UK at least) that suddenly you're fitting into single digits (size 8 jeans! result!) you have that ongoing struggle of trying to find a pair that zip up in the shop, but will not fall down once you've worn them once. The assistants are great and do tell you to go for the ones that are tight, giving room for that once-worn stretch...but I always have the voice of my mother in the back of my head ("if they don't fit you now, they never will"). Then when you finally do find the pair you want you put them on only to discover they're they wrong leg length. Why is 33" now the standard in many shops? Even at 5'7 I find it hard to wear jeans that long without heels.
For me, the holy grail of denim was a pair of Paper, Denim & Cloth numbers I found in TK Maxx for £30. They were my aspirational diet jeans. When I got them I could just about zip them up, but the muffin top I got as a result was not worth thinking about. They were too small for me and I knew it, but not even my mother's voice wasn't going to stop me from buying a bargain like that. Yesterday I pulled them on and voila, they're finally wearable (just about). The truth of the matter is they probably don't look as good as my Gap jeans...but a girl will go a long way to wear designer denim.
Talk of TK Maxx leads me on to my biggest tip for women fed up of buying jeans that don't fit. And that tip is to shop at TK Maxx. Buying other stuff in what I call 'the shop with no soul' might be a nightmare, but for denim it's brilliant. Where else do you find hundreds of different styles of jeans arranged in sizes for easy access? I've been known to go in there and try on twelve pairs at once (yep, the fitting room staff love me). A random TK trip is how I found my perfect partner, the jeans I will go on and on about until the cows come home....Seven7's classic non-stretch bootcut jean. I don't care if skinnies are in, this is my dream jean. Classic, curve-hugging and ridiculously slimming.
Not to be confused with 'cool' denim brand Seven For All Mankind, Seven7 is a run-of-the-mill brand that just happens to fit me perfectly. Though I love those designer denims, I'm not a snob and when I find a pair I like, I don't care what's stitched on the back pocket. Apparently of European origin, Seven7 has a great Aussie website, is fairly prolific in mid-market department stores in the USA (think Macy's and Dillards) and is also the stalwart of the curvy woman, as it sells a range at plus size mecca Lane Bryant. In TK Maxx in the UK it's an untapped resource. I have three pairs of the same style in two washes and two sizes and no pair cost me more than £25. Who can argue with that?
I know women who don't wear jeans purely because they've never found a pair that fit. Is is really that impossible to design a pair that will fit a woman on the hips, bum and waist at the same time? Why do some jeans stretch out of shape the minute you put them on, yet the ones you want to give seem to shrink every time you try to pull them over your thighs? How come nobody has invented a skinny jean that will tuck properly into boots without bunching up around the knees? And who the hell told middle aged women with chunky calves that they should start buying cropped jeans (elasticated waist optional) and wear them with trainers?
Levi Strauss, you have a lot to answer for!