Where were you when you heard?
Everyone has a memory of themselves hearing earth-shaking news. There you are, frozen like a fly in amber, absorbing whatever just changed the world.
I felt like that fly the other day. I hadn't heard big news, as news goes, but it was still shocking in its presumption: "The Age You Should Stop Wearing Jeans." "Ditch the Denim." "Do Jeans Have an Age Cutoff?" and "Most Annoying Study Reveals Age When Women Are Too Old For Jeans."
Yes, a survey conducted by the British group Collect Plus decreed that at age 53, women should no longer wear jeans.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "And we should wear what instead? Homespun? Polyester?" You're thinking, "It'll be a cold day in you-know-where when I allow another country to make my fashion decisions!"
But no. The survey respondents claim finding jeans that fit is a nightmare at any age, and the problem only worsens over time. After age 53, jeans-shopping apparently is as stressful as driving into a sinkhole on the highway. It's as frustrating as wrangling unhappy toddler quintuplets into snowsuits.
Collect Plus is urging us to give up jeans for our health, because we'll need our patience and mental acuity in the years to come more than we'll need high-rise, straight, wide-leg crop jeans. (That's a real jeans style, by the way. As God is my witness.)
So is this where we all cheer and stop camping in front of jean displays, trying to choose from among skinny jeans, denim sweats, midrise cuffed crops and spliced, restitched flares? Does this signal a return to the flannel-lined overalls of childhood, when round bellies were considered cute and we had an Oreo in each fist?
Maybe for you. Not for me, unfortunately, because I wear size Petite, and as fellow Petites know, we are punished for our physical proportions the way outspoken women were punished in 17th-century Salem.
You know how people say a tall, flowy woman's legs go all the way down to the floor? In my case, it's my waist that goes all the way down to the floor, and my legs are wedged underneath it like a couple of shims. For years, it was almost impossible to find trousers that fit my long, flowy waist without leaving the pant legs coiling around my feet like pythons.
Then, later in life than I care to admit, I discovered Petites. At first, I was overjoyed: pants that reliably fit! Pants I could buy because I liked them, not because they were the only pair of the 103 I'd tried on that looked like clothing instead of fire hoses, draperies or some kind of extremely complicated puppet.
My joy didn't last, however. Major department stores and small, not-that-expensive-but-expensive-to-me shops have fine Petite selections, but mid-price chain stores have the same respect for Petites as they do for raccoons rummaging in the trash bins out back. Over there, in the store's Normal Women clothing section, are zillions of styles. Over here, in the You Poor Pathetic Petites corner, are stiff, scratchy pants in navy blue and brown, both with elasticized waists. The fit, length and cuffs are whatever have been long since liquidated in Normal Women.
Jeans, however, are like restaurant breakfasts: It's hard to ruin them. Even when I'm picky -- no elastic, no words embroidered on the seat -- I can usually find a pretty good pair that fits.
But now comes the Rule of 53. If jeans are no longer an option, will I have to wear the clothes Petite departments think I deserve? What if the departments disappear altogether and Petites have to wait in line for a box containing someone else's idea of clothing? We'd surely look wistfully at normal people shopping as usual, stressful though the exercise may be.
Meanwhile, I'm trying not to fret about jean age limits. Until the Rule of 53 becomes law, I'll continue to wear denim, as dorkily fitting as my jeans may be.
If my reflection in store windows offends me, I'll look away. Problem solved.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.