Friday, October 30, 2009

American Dream Fabric: Denim

I crossed a line in the last few years where I get unexpectedly hit with nostalgia. Nostalgia from 20 to 25 years ago! I'm moving through that stage of life where I can't quite believe that I can talk about something from 25 years ago, when I was a teenager. I pause writing that, just can't believe it. The 80s revival brings plenty of nostalgia material for us Gen Xers. I won't see the movie Fame because I want to remember only the original. I see those vintage concert Ts with the black raglan sleeves and white body, and wonder if I should hit eBay for my favorite MTV bands from 8th grade. I'd probably pay more for the T now than back then!

The Clash, on eBay right now!

Van Halen, on eBay right now!

So I'm in Macy's back in September, buying Ralph Lauren pants for work. I buy from a handful of brands now, with the main criteria that they fit perfectly. I don't have time to waste browsing other brands -- just beeline to the petite Ralph Lauren section, pull my size, pay for it, take it home, I don't even have to try pants on. They fit perfect. They're the only thing in the entire store that fits well. I should have kept that in mind as I got all googly-eyed when I saw ...


You can get it at Zappos.

With the red tab. Chest pockets. The classic jean jacket lines and topstitching. Exactly like I had in high school. My heart went pitter patter. Nostaglia washes over. I get woozy and warm. Totally unexpected moment. I lose common sense. I paw the rack desperately. Apparently many other women did too, because all that's left are Petite XS. Um, no. I'm not the same size I was at age 16 unfortunately. So I go to the Misses section and there's a huge display of Levi's jeans. But no jackets. I'm so disappointed -- I envisioned throwing a Levi jean jacket over a big sweater on a crisp October day at the cider mill. Never mind that while there's an abundance of cider mills where I grew up in Michigan, there are no cider mills in Chicago. You know how these visions of perfect wardrobe moments go.

So I carry an armful of Levi's jeans to the dressing room. They look like sh*t on me! The dream is shot all to heck. Ugh. I'm disgusted. It's like when you're having a great dream, like we got a completely rehabbed 15th century stone villa in Tuscany for free and we get to live there forever and ever!! For free!!! And a cat jumps on me to wake me up for food, because it's 5:00 a.m. and it's time to eat. So I go from a gorgeous olive grove and glorious sunset view, to sticking my hand in a plastic bag for dry cat food. Yeah, trying on the Levi jeans was like that.

But I never got to try on the Levi jacket. So that dream lived on. I couldn't get it out of my head. So I surfed online. I found the Trucker jacket on Amazon in petite. So easy to buy, I don't even have to put the credit card number in. Every day, I pull in the driveway, searching the porch for a box. It seemed to take forever to get here, though it was only 4-5 days. When it finally arrived, another dream blasted to bits. The jacket wasn't slightly oversized like I remember. It had lycra, and it was form-fitting. What is a Levi jacket doing with lycra in it!!! It was too tight. I looked like a denim-wrapped sausage.

Those of us who sew learn the fine points of fit and while we scrutinize fit, we learn what looks good on us and what doesn't. It's like Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear are little angels (or maybe devils?) sitting on our shoulders while we stare at the mirror, saving us from horrible mistakes. I needed a Stacy on my shoulder to tell me, don't waste money ordering a larger size, the whole Levi jacket shape is oh-so-wrong on me now. But I knew that, even as I hit the order button again on Amazon, this time with rush shipping, because I just couldn't wait another agonizing 4-5 days.

Well, today I am returning two Levi jackets at UPS.

The Levi dream is over. Three strikes in the mirror, and I'm finally out!! If only I could find a real vintage, oversized 80s Levi jacket on eBay ...


I leave you with this story from today's
From farm field to cotton mill: The making of America's denim.

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