I bought them because I just don’t give a damn anymore.
And that is so liberating.
If you don’t know what Pajama Jeans are, I really don’t care to know you. You probably don’t know what Pajama Jeans are because you’re one of those insufferable people who constantly needs to remind other people about the fact that you don’t own a television.
If you do know what they are, then you’re my kind of people. The kind of people who aren’t ashamed to watch TV – maybe even lots of it. The kind of people who have found themselves standing in the kitchen, a dirty dish towel in hand, mouth agape, staring at that familiar infomercial while the young offspring at their feet chew on the dog’s tail. (“Do you love stylish, sexy jeans? Do you love soft, comfy pajama bottoms?” My God, I DO!)
I used to care so much about my clothes. I mean, like a ridiculous amount. That’s not to say I spent a lot of money on my clothes. Oh, no, I never did that. I bought my clothes at secondhand shops. This was when I had time to spend five hours digging through potentially scabies-infested racks of clothing searching for the perfect 1950s shirtwaist dress that belonged to someone’s dead grandmother. I would pair that dress with combat boots or leggings, top if off with an Army jacket, and then I would go out. If I couldn’t find a 1950s shirtwaist dress, a T-shirt from a summer Bible camp would do just as well, thank you.
I remember telling a college roommate I didn’t get dressed, I put on a costume every day. It was my desire to look as weird, as odd, as different as I possibly could. My God, yes, I was as insufferable as those assholes who don’t own televisions, wasn’t I? But this, gentle reader, was another time in my life. A time when I could leisurely sit on the toilet without wondering if my son had just crawled off to play Let’s Stick This In The Electrical Outlet.
But because I spent most of my twenties trying to make my wardrobe stand out, and because some of my first work environments were pretty casual (an alternative weekly and a theater in an old punk rock club), I missed that critical point where one develops an acceptable adult style. When I became a teacher at the age of 27, I knew enough to know I could not show up at work wearing a T-shirt with two kittens on it that said Yo La Tengo (or, worse, a T-shirt that read Your Favorite Band Sucks).
But I did not know what else to wear.
I would see these other put-together women I taught with, and they would go to these mystical places like Ann Taylor Loft. Places where a pair of pants costs $49.50 and that’s considered a good deal. Now when you’ve been buying men’s jeans for $3 at Value Village, the idea of spending $49.50 on a pair of pants instead of, say, food or shelter, seems very nutty to you.
So I started creating this sort of pot luck approach to building my wardrobe. Basically, I would show up at Target and just run through the clearance rack, holding out my arms and pulling stuff randomly off hangers based on whether or not I liked the color. I would buy items and I wouldn’t even try them on – I’d just hope they fit when I got home. I would wander around Marshalls and simply pray to God that something appropriate would fall into my shopping cart and it would look all right on me and I could go to work in it.
Then I did something really strange. I have this obsession with The Vermont Country Store catalog – which is essentially a catalog created for the few proud people left on the planet who were alive when Herbert Hoover was president – and I started ordering clothes from that catalog. I ordered this and I ordered this and I kind of wanted to get this. I should state that it’s not that I find these outfits particularly attractive. But they are so utilitarian in their design that it’s like I’m pretty sure I can’t go wrong by wearing them.
My BFF Tamarie was not so sure.
“Jennifer, you’re 34, and you are buying clothes from a catalog that offers an entire section called muumuus and floats,” she scolded me over the phone. “Muumuus and floats. I want you to think about that. I need to call up those people from What Not To Wear and schedule an intervention.”
Anyway, in addition to the Vermont business, I ordered the Pajama Jeans. I mean, why the Hell wouldn’t I? They were guaranteed to fit me, they would go with all of the clearance tops I bought at Target, and damn it, they were $39.95 and that included a free T-shirt.
Let me restate my point this way: I didn’t buy the Pajama Jeans because I really thought they would fit into my signature style. I bought the Pajama Jeans because building a signature style no longer matters to me. And like I said at the beginning of this post, there is something oddly freeing about just surrendering to the idea that clothing must simply function to cover your body and protect you from the elements. Something so Zen about just not knowing or caring if your socks match your pants or your shirt matches your shoes.
Now all of that said, if I ever start buying clothing designed by Joan Rivers off of QVC, I give my friends and family full permission to just go ahead and put me down.