I started off my four-day weekend by getting my taxes done, which was relatively painless this year. I actually netted less than last year, despite earning a step increase and therefore a higher salary. This is largely due to federal budget issues that resulted in a sharp decrease in the availability of overtime pay. It's also partially due to a delay in the awarding of my FLAP benefits (an incentive paid out to those of us with foreign language skills), which I should have gotten last November but probably won't receive until next week.
It always amazes me to see how much money I'm pouring into my house. I spent over $13K just in interest on my mortgage last year. I'm paying down the principal as quickly as I feel comfortable budgeting, so that number should decrease steadily over time, but it's still startling to see.
Once I saw what my tax return would be, I decided to put some funds back into the economy by buying a new washer/dryer set to replace the old one (with the currently nonfunctional dryer). I headed to Sears to pick out something. After I made the purchase and earned a bunch of Sears points, I figured I should spend them while I was there instead of having to make a separate trip out there before the points expire. I decided it was about time to pick up a couple new pairs of jeans, so I headed to the clothing department.
First, a bit of background. The last time I went shopping for jeans was six years ago, after I returned from Japan. I went to a number of department stores around town and couldn't find anything suitable until I finally got to the Levi department at Sears. I picked up a couple nice pairs there and have been quite satisfied with them. It's just that they are now becoming frayed and stained after six years of wear, particularly from all the yard work that I do. In any case, it seemed reasonable to assume that I could find the same jeans again to last me several more years.
First I stopped at the Lee jeans display, since they were set out on a table on sale. I was puzzled, however, to discover that they weren't actually jeans, they were some kind of stretchy Spandex blend. No matter, I thought, it was just the wrong brand. I moved on to the Levi section...only to find that all of the Levi "jeans" were the same stretchy Spandex blend. I searched everywhere for actual jeans. It turned out that there wasn't a single pair of 100% denim jeans for women in the WHOLE STORE.
What the heck, Sears?
I gave up on the idea of spending my Sears points and moved on to Macy's, thinking that I might have better luck there. Not only were their Levi pants also Spandex, when I tried them on and attempted to put my hands in the pockets, I found that the pockets were only about two inches deep. I could only fit my fingers up to the second joint before they hit the bottom of the pocket. For crying out loud, women have a hard enough time with so many skirts and dresses and dress pants that are made without pockets, you have to eliminate all functional usefulness from items of clothing that actually HAVE pockets? I kept searching Macy's after that disappointment, even trying to enlist the assistance of a sales clerk, but it was the same story. They didn't carry any women's denim jeans, they only had Spandex leggings designed to look like jeans.
What the heck, America?
After I completed my shopping (which included a trip to the local game store in honor of International Tabletop Gaming Day) and returned home, I did some internet searching on the topic of women's jeans. I discovered a few things.
First, the leg models on most women's pants web sites are so thin and bony that they hardly even look human. Browsing kind of gave me the creeps.
Second, this dearth of denim has been a problem for a couple of years, I just didn't know because my old jeans lasted so long that I haven't had to buy more until now. I was only able to uncover a few sources.
Wrangler still makes 100% cotton jeans. The problem is, their minimum inseam length is 30", while I wear a 28". Sucks to be short.
Harley-Davidson makes 100% cotton jeans for women...but not only do they have the same problem of only going down to a 30" inseam, they also only sell bootcut jeans (a style I dislike) with either low-rise or mid-rise waist (something else of which I'm not fond).
L. L. Bean sells 100% cotton jeans with the high waist and tapered leg design that I prefer, plus their petite size has a 28" inseam, so it seems perfect. The problem with this one, based on reading the comments, is that the "relaxed fit" makes it more baggy than expected from the picture. I would hesitate to purchase it without being able to try it on first--and they only have stores on the East Coast.
Since Wrangler offers their jeans on Amazon with free returns, I'll probably try theirs first to see if I can tolerate the extra two inches of length. Still, this is a lot more work than I expected I'd have to put into buying a simple item of clothing.
I'm hoping to spend the rest of my day today tidying my place in anticipation of a couple friends coming over to visit next weekend.