…And the $200 pair of jeans that inspired her to change denim shopping forever.
Kelly Ernst is the founder and CEO of Redenim, the easiest way for you to find your new favorite pair of jeans delivered right to your door.
I decided to try my jeans on one final time. And just like the last few times I’d attempted, I could barely get them up over my knees. I’m not entirely sure what I thought would happen. Maybe they would magically fit like a glove again, the way they had when I first tried them on in a SoHo boutique six months earlier. Maybe things would have gone back to the way they were.
Defeated, I squeezed back out of them — an equally difficult feat, surprisingly — and gently folded my jeans. They looked as if they were destined to go back on the shelf, but with a long sigh, I placed them at the top of a pile of “donate-ables” in a brown paper shopping bag at the foot of my bed.
Slowly, deliberately, I meandered the six odd blocks from my New York City apartment to the nearest Goodwill where I dropped the bag. I tried to maintain an air of cool indifference, but the truth was, I felt so profoundly sad.
When I’d first arrived in New York six months prior, my world was a flurry of excitement. I had a new job, a new apartment, and I was truly on my own for the first time ever. And like all matters of fresh starts, this one came with a want of a new wardrobe, specifically the perfect pair of jeans.
Jeans are the American uniform and a great pair that fits well is the cornerstone of an entire wardrobe.
I however, had grown accustomed to jeans with inseams that were too long, waists that bulged out into an unflattering gap, knees that were too baggy, or cuts that were just categorically awful. This was not by choice, but rather by extension of the most pressing restriction for me: I could not justify spending more than maybe $40 on any clothing item, especially jeans.
The thought of dipping into the designer pool priced well above $150 terrified me. But with my new start I decided to treat myself and the one thing I wanted was a nice pair of designer jeans that finally fit me properly.
On a quiet Saturday morning in the spring I ducked into as many SoHo boutiques as I could. I was treated to the works: showroom attendants who took measurements and began picking jeans off the racks with a sort of other-worldly intuition and precision; fitting room runners who grabbed pairs in new sizes and colors if I betrayed the slightest inclination that I didn’t like the one I was trying on; and finally the cashier who ran my card and told me with a genuine warmth that I would love these jeans for life. I’d landed on the exact pair I wanted right at the $200 mark.
And she was right! I loved those jeans. They fit like a glove. They moved easily. They were the exact perfect shade of dark blue that could be dressed up or down. They looked as great with heels as they did with flats. And above all I felt confident, sexy, and totally comfortable wearing them. For what I paid, they were worth every penny and the SoHo personal shopping experience made what could have been another traumatic day in fitting rooms way more enjoyable.
But my fresh start in New York came with a lot of things I didn’t expect: eclectic restaurants, after hours at bars, new friends, challenging job assignments, homesickness, coffee on fire escapes, yoga. And with all these things — good and bad — piling up on my shoulders, I felt my body changing too.
Three or so months after I’d purchased my jeans they began to feel tight, just edging into being uncomfortable. Yet they were still there with me at rooftop parties in Brooklyn, on first dates, for 4th of July fireworks over the Hudson, while running through Grand Central and strolling through Central Park.
By six months, I could barely get them up to my waist let alone buttoned. And so they sat on my shelf to be pulled down every so often to see if I could get them on… but they never did fit again. I swore off designer jeans forever and returned to awful-fitting, terrible quality, cheap jeans.
The reality is that as our lives change, our bodies will too. And we need to give ourselves permission for that to be OK. A few years later, I was regaling my friends the tale of my beloved designer jeans and why I’d decided to never spend money on investment pieces again when it suddenly hit me: how much easier would all of that have been if I could have had that amazing personal shopping experience I had in the SoHo boutique anytime I needed to update my denim collection?
I probably would have been kinder to myself and more accepting of the changes my body was going through during a very turbulent and exciting period in my life. I would have felt less pressure to fit into a certain size simply because I’d invested in it knowing that I could quickly and easily find the right pair with a little help.
So it was, in earnest, that the idea for Redenim came to me. I wanted other women to be able to experience the SoHo personal shopping experience I was treated to. And no, I never will buy designer jeans the same way again knowing that there was such a simple solution hiding in plain sight.
To be frank, I never want another woman to look at herself in the mirror and think that she is anything less than amazing because she isn’t a certain size. And I don’t believe that because our bodies are subject to change as we live our lives that it excludes us from having nice clothing that makes us feel comfortable and happy at every moment. I don’t want any woman to ever feel like she has to make an expensive commitment to pair of jeans that might not work out long term, or settle for cheap jeans that don’t fit well because of that fear.
Jeans are a fashion staple, and I want every woman to not only be able to find but also wear a pair of jeans that makes her feel confident, beautiful, and above all happy with her body as it is, and as it will be.
I founded Redenim because I want all women to be able to have the perfect jean at every stage of their journey, not just as a reward at the end or as a measuring stick for aspiration...
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How many pairs of jeans do you have sitting in your closet? …and be honest! Let us know in the comments!