To celebrate going down a waist size, thanks to the advice of my new trainer, my ability to limit myself to one beer in the evening, and the avoidance of the pastry case at Starbucks when I get coffee, I decided to treat myself to a new pair of jeans. Not just a new pair of Levis like I wear to work all the time, mind you, but nice jeans, something I could wear out to all these fabulous clubs and bars that would have some actual style to them (while, of course, showing off the results of all this body modification). After a grueling week of hunting high and low for that perfect pair, I am now ready to share with you all my impressions of the state of the jeans shopping experience in our fair, foggy city.
Here were the criteria: less than $200 (I know, you're groaning already - I couldn't take the boyfriend along to some stores, because if he saw me spending more that $75 on anything clothing-related, it would have been nothing but grief for weeks), some "decorative" elements (it's all about the back pockets now, you know, but I still love my faded and nearly washed-away raver jeans), and a general dashing, boy-about-town style. Color and fabric preference: medium blue, "distressed," no raw denim.
First stop: Macy's Men's Store. On a lovely Saturday afternoon the boyfriend and I hit the third floor of the venerable department store and found that they were in the middle of their winter season clearance. Racks and racks of jeans at 50% off, so those $250 jeans I thought were cute in September were now $125 dollar jeans that were just as cute. Unfortunately, nothing in my trim new waist size, aside from stuff that had been rejected by legions of gay boys already. Too plain, too decorative, too long (why does everything come with a 34" inseam these days?), fit funny in the ass, fit funny in the crotch. Repeated visits over lunch hour the following week did not bring any hidden treasures to light, and even when I started checking out out new jeans at the sub-$200 level, my overall impression was "eh."
Walking down Market later in the week I saw a boy in front of me with a nice pair of Energie jeans, so I popped into their store on Grant street for a look. Some nice styles, but again, the fit was bizarre, either way too long or way too tight in the "crucial" areas while puckering out around my waist (I mean, do the boys who model these things not have butts or what?). And then, there was the staff. I might have been more inclined to spend time trying on some other pairs had I gotten a bit of advising on the bewildering away of styles, but they were all too busy fawning over someone who was apprently buying a whole head-to-toe outfit to pay any mind to a guy like me in a baseball shirt and pair of Levis. The really fun part about designer jeans stores, kids, is when you walk in and you can see the staff give you the up-and-down. In those two seconds you've been totally judged for how much money you have, and how much money you're going to spend, and they're going for the cash-rich targets.
For comparison purposes I then went over to G-Star Raw on Geary, less than a block away. The boyfriend loves their reconstructed military look stuff, and I have a black sweater of theirs that makes me look like an officer on the bridge of a space marine assault craft, so I thought maybe they'd have some fun jeans as well. All I can say is that I left Virginia so that I could get away from a world where everyone looks like an auto mechanic.
Later the same day I went into the Diesel store on Geary, which was more of a sensory assault than I could bear, with pounding techno streaming out of the doors and onto the street. All the jeans styles were displayed high up on the wall above the bins where they were stored, so I had to walk up a flight of stairs to actually see them. In the "collection" section in the basement I was a bit overwhelmed by the aura of EuroJapanoTrash shoppers, and decided that anything these guys would wear would probably be a bit much for me.
Having overheard someone at Macy's say that Nieman-Marcus was having a 40% off sale on Antik Denim, I put my better judgement aside and headed for the glass-walled hell of the upper classes. Here is where I discovered that you really can find designer denim for more than $250, and walked out pretty quickly after being given the googly-eye by a clerk who was wearing gear that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe.
In frustration I decided on one last foray, this time into the familiar territory of the Castro. Coming out of the MUNI stop I looked at the Diesel store and thought, hell, why not, I've been to worse places already today. Inside a very cute guy with a faux hawk and brown doe eyes actually went to the trouble of helping me pick out a pair of jeans with the fit, color, and style I wanted. The first pair I liked he was rather dismissive of, in an uber-cool gay boy sort of way, but then I let him do the shopping and came out with a pair of pretty-much perfect jeans. So now I am among the hordes of Diesel-clad gay boys wandering the Castro. But at least I knew to draw the line at rhinestones on my ass.