There's nothing worse than pants that don't fit. Maybe war, I guess? And famine. Yeah, that's it: war, then famine, then tight pants. I've never marched into battle or wanted for a meal, but for three miserable months, I willfully wore a pair of A.P.C. jeans that were three sizes too small, and my life was fucking abysmal.
See, I was a hypebeast once. My stomach still hurts just thinking about it.
I should explain: Years ago, before I started my D-lister's ascent of Mt. Fila, I was just another vacant-eyed, post-frat yuppie with writing aspirations. I wore pleated khakis, ate homemade sandwiches to save money and listened to Girl Talk. In other words, I was the opposite of trill.
This was all to change when, in September 2012, I took an editorial job at a style site. My closet was still full of untapered, unwelted and unwaxed holdovers from adolescence, and, as a result, I was getting outclassed and laughed at every time I walked into the office. I had outfits. My coworkers had alphets. I needed to fit in. So, on the advice of my boss, I bought "designer jeans."
Growing up suburban and male, designer anything was the exclusive purview of women and, yes, gays. Dudes weren't supposed to care about how they looked and I sure as fuck didn’t. I couldn't. Looking back, I'm legitimately horrified by my misogyny and homophobia, but I'm also amused by my fascinating lack of sartorial foresight. Man, I was terrible. Whether nature, nurture or some reverential insistence on homaging blue collar heritage, something deep down within my psyche has always rejected the idea of overspending on jeans. This is hilarious because I spend my money on equally dumb shit all the time (read: booze, Uber, Girl Talk albums, etc.), but for some reason the concept of dropping dough on denim used to straight up appall me.
Running my card for $185 raw, indigo jeans at the French label's antiseptic Mercer Street, then, should have hurt. But it didn't. Buying that first pair of A.P.C. jeans felt fucking great. I was finally going to fit in at work. Without a single Saturdays tee, I had secured my rightful title as the "style bro" amongst my group of my college friends. Anonymous Japanese people would soon surely accost me in public for a picture of my seams, immortalizing them somewhere on the foreign backstreets of the Internet.
It was truly about to be all mine, you guys. Just as soon as these jeans stretched out.
The salesman, a waifish twerp wearing Common Projects and ennui, said it should take about two months for the jeans to break in, at which point they'd be the "softest, most comfortable" pair of pants I'd ever owned. My boss put the threshold around six weeks, gesturing wildly at the whiskers behind his kneecaps. Someone told me to wear them every day, so I did. Someone else told me not to wash them, so I didn't. Soon, I started referring to my jeans as the first "piece" in my planned wardrobe. I was on my way.
I WebMD'd 'dying from the inside' just for kicks.
At first, I didn't notice the pain. Fueled as I am by espresso and anxiety, stomach problems have always dogged me: acid reflux, nausea, ulcers, you name it. Par for the course. Each night, I'd peel off my A.P.C.'s, nod approvingly at any developing creases and scratch my balls as they unfurled from a day of denim incarceration. Each morning, I rose like the phoenix, jamming my gams into the narrow legs like sausages into their casings. If I burped more, or threw up, or felt like the alien from Alien was clawing its way out of my abdomen dick-first, I don't remember it. My singular focus was wearing my jeans for as long as it took before they became comfortable.
My coworkers, bless them, were encouraging. "They're totally breaking in," they'd say in the elevator. "Shit, bro, your shit's honeycombing, bro. Nice." With each compliment, I swelled with pride. That's what denim does to you. That's what hypebeasting does to you. That's what clothes do to you. They make it easy, or, at least, possible to forget how shitty you feel.
But after about three months, I started feeling, yep, shitty. At first, it was mental. I walked into J. Crew to check out their Norse Projects rain jacket collaboration and the salesgirl rushed me like I was giving away free Alexander Wang. She was hot. She was talking to me. THE JEANS WERE WORKING! But I soon realized that she wasn't there to drop lavish praise on my impeccable choice of denim. Nope, she was there to try to sell me new ones. According to her, the stuff I had on didn't fit.
"No, you don't get it," I explained knowingly, my button fly bursting like a Costanza crotch-wallet. I'm breaking these in. They’re selvedge. I just got them. She politely agreed and, backpedaling, even tried to compliment the fit. "You're, like, um, curvy," she said. "Like, a curvy gentleman." Being as how I'm a male human, and not a female Dove commercial, this made me feel weird, if not completely and utterly fucking terrible.
Soon I started to notice a strange physical toll. Sitting down—normally a grim reality of 12+ hour days spent OUT HERE IN THESE STREETS MAKING THIS CONTENT—had become a bit, uh, inconvenient. It hurt. So did peeing. So did existing, really. It felt like a boa constrictor with a vendetta against my kidneys was beasting my lower abdomen just for kicks. I WebMD'd "dying from the inside" just for kicks. The evidence was piling up, but every morning I pulled on those same jeans and convinced myself they were juuuuust a little looser than yesterday.
There's no telling how long I would have worn my first pair of designer jeans if I hadn't run into a particular friend of mine. He's a rare dude: a stylist with a sense of humor, who can call you "the homie" without sounding like he's hawking snap backs from a booth at Agenda, and can wear Margiela everything without looking like a Belgian Segway pirate. He took one look at my jeans and started laughing. "I don't think those are gonna stretch any more, my guy," he said skeptically, scrounging for material around a too-taut thigh. It was the permission I'd been waiting for. The next day, I donated the jeans.
Obviously, a different pair of A.P.C.'s probably would've fit me better. The salesman was wrong, my coworkers were enablers and, let's be real, every brand's fits suck anyway. But here's the thing: There's no moral to this story. I promised Lawrence that there would be a tidy "aha! moment" at the end of this piece, and, well, you probably know where this is going anyway.
Everyone reacts to peer pressure. Anyone who claims otherwise is either lying or Stone Cold Steve Austin, who is the only guy I'm 100% positive doesn't give a single fuck what anyone thinks of him. Hypebeasts don't just react to it, they internalize it, turning it into an ever-running monologue that dictates their behavior. I spent three months dragging myself around in two hundred dollars worth of jeans that didn't fit, convinced they'd stretch because some low-rent model/sales associate/fuccboi told me they would.
Don't be a tool. Buy jeans that fit.