I started 5th grade in 1979. That’s when designer jeans were “all the rage.” An expression your grandmother would use, but really – they were the rage.
All the sexy girls in my class wore them.
(Yes, to ten year olds, other ten year olds are sexy.) Carney, Randi, Jen, Alexis, Sacha (names changed to protect the sexy) — they all had “the look.” Not necessarily Jordache – those weren’t first choice. The best ones to wear to school were Sassons or Calvins. A pair of those, coupled with a skinny belt and shiny red parachute bag by Le Sportsac, and you were good to go.
I wanted a pair so bad.
Nothing I hoped for in life was going to happen in the jeans I had — Wranglers and Lees. Those were for losers. So I told my parents, “We need to get me some decent clothes.”
My dad didn’t get it. “Dungarees are for knocking around in. Why do you need an expensive, European label on your knockaround pants?”
My mom also thought the jeans I had were plenty decent, but after I begged and begged, she agreed to take me to Bloomingdales to buy me ONE pair.
I didn’t know how I’d ever narrow it down to just one, but that didn’t turn out to be a problem.
In the Bloomie’s dressing room, armed with about ten different pairs, I tried on my favorites first: the Calvins. I couldn’t get them up. Carney, Randi, and those other skinny girls didn’t really have butts. I hadn’t considered that.
My mom, standing outside because I forced her to, called through the door: “Can I see?”
“No!” I shrieked. “They’re too small. And don’t try to peek!” You could see through the slats of the door if you put your eye up close. I knew this from spying on my sister when she tried on clothes.
“I’m not peeking” my mom said. “You sure they don’t fit? That’s usually your size.”
I tried on the Sassons next. Same deal. Then a size up. No luck. Then the Jordache, the Sergio Valente…even Gitano, I think…and finally, the Gloria Vanderbilts. Vanderbilts weren’t lower in the jeans pecking order than Sergio Valente, but the commercial said that they “fit…like the skin on a grape!” If the others were tight, what were my chances of fitting into the skin on a grape? Nil. Tight they were.
I stuck with my Wranglers. They were nice and roomy. Good for “knocking around.”
As a consolation prize, my mother bought me a shiny, red parachute Le Sportsac.
Moral of this story? You come up with it.
I just loved these old ads. Here’s another one, that shows what my school life would have been like if the jeans fit. Except for the teacher part. “The look” my teacher had was long, droopy boobs and no bra.
UPDATE: The video was removed since I published this post years ago. I don’t even remember what it was for, but picture a classroom full of kids in designer jeans, with a perky-boobed teacher.