Apparently the new criterion for buying jeans is “Can you sit in them?”

I discovered that when I went on a mission to buy a pair of jeans that were “in.” This by definition means that they aren’t baggy, have very skinny legs, and have no give in the fabric. They aren’t, in other words, comfy.

The adorable salesperson (underage in my opinion, but child labor’s a whole different subject) clearly had concerns about the jeans I was wearing. My favorite pair of jeans, to be precise.

To say that I was shamed into trying on things that I shouldn’t have would suggest that I was persuaded by her youth, her chic-ness and by the look on her face as she gave me the once over. Indeed, I felt pitiful and desperate. I was, in other words, a salesperson’s dream.

She put me in a dressing room with more mirrors than I needed, then abandoned me so I was forced to walk out into the world – or at least into the store – in jeans that even I knew were wrong.

But by then I was starved for her opinion and, especially, her approval.

She kept saying they were still too sloppy. Clearly no different than what I had on when I walked in.

Now at this point in my life, I know myself well enough that if I don’t already have something quite like it in my closet, I shouldn’t buy it. I won’t wear it. But this shopping trip was intended to be a new experience. To get “with it.” To embrace change.

So, we tried and we tried some more. We pulled and we zipped. We assessed and we evaluated.

She had to be so tired of me. I was tired of me, too.

Finally, we found a pair that we agreed had some “with-it-ness.” That’s when she asked the all-important “Can you sit in them?” question. So I sat in them.

And I bought them.

What I neglected to tell her, because I didn’t want to upset her, was that I couldn’t breathe in them.

Apparently, that’s not a criterion.

I should have known.

Sallie Collins enjoys living on the banks of the May River and writes about it in her blog,, from which this article is taken.