Confession: I Wear Maternity Jeans Even Though I’m Not Pregnant
I could have at least four different-sized human beings shop in my closet right now, as it is filled with pants ranging from size 0 to size 10. They don’t vary in waistline as much as you’d think because we’re talking about the women’s clothing industry, after all, and a size 6 at J.Crew is in no way similar to a size 6 at Talbot’s. It’s not as though I gain and lose 30 pounds every month. I do, however, gain and lose about eight pounds every month, and that is not insignificant when you’re trying to put an outfit together. (Oh, menopause! When will you arrive?)
Last month, after another morning spent trying on and then shedding pants that wouldn’t button like a waterlogged molting snake, I took my angry menstrual self to the Gap for new jeans. I had recently given a bunch of clothing to Goodwill, and forgotten to keep some big jeans for the fat half of the month. As I browsed the tidy shelves admiringly (I used to work at the Gap, and still remember the folding process as exquisitely satisfying), I thought, “If only they made expandable jeans that would work with me throughout the month, like with a big elastic waistband.” I started thinking I should invent them and become rich. I saw myself on QVC with impossibly terrific hair, chatting with Isaac Mizrahi about the planets, my manicure superb. Then I walked to the back of the store and oh my god there they were I already invented them. In the maternity section.
This was a revelation to me, which either makes me extremely slow on the uptake or oblivious because I’ve never had kids. There were rows and rows of lovely jeans of all length and style — from skinny-leg to bootcut to flares; from dark blue to worn-in and pre-washed — with elastic waistbands. Now, some of these waistbands were more like tube tops. But others are just a slim band of elastic where the pesky button would otherwise be. The demi-panel jeans sit low on the “belly,” which for a non-pregnant woman means low on the hips. So they fit exactly as normal jeans would, but they’re comfortable. Really, really comfortable. Then there are the “inset panel” jeans, which simply have pieces of elastic stitched into the sides. That’s even less pregnant-y.
The jeans run in different lengths too, so I was able to buy a size 4 demi-panel pair of jeans in “short” and have them fit perfectly off the rack. Unprecedented.
The only problem has been the reaction from my man friend. I showed them to him as soon as I got home from the store because I feel like this is the best thing that’s happened to me, shopping-wise, since I got correctly fitted for a bra a few years ago. “Look!” I said. “This is total genius!” He looked distinctly uneasy, though, as if I was actually planning to have a baby or become grossly obese, which would be only slightly less upsetting. Now he mocks me when I wear them, which is fine. For some reason, men — with their beer bellies spilling over their belts — don’t seem to crave elastic waistlines. But one day he and his kind will thank me for this innovation. I’ll see them furtively shopping at the Gap maternity’s section, and vindication will be mine.