Four years ago, I stumbled onto a clothier’s going-out-of-business-sale. I needed a new pair of jeans and surprisingly, their jeans fit well. So I bought five pairs (boot-cut) and congratulated myself for being so clever. How long might this cache of jeans last me? Ten, fifteen years? I might never have to go shopping ever again. How I relished the thought.

Several years later I noticed that skinny jeans were back in style, even on guys. But who cared. I shrugged it off.

Then another year passed a new realization intruded: I was the last guy on the planet still wearing boot-cut jeans.

Again I tried ignoring it to focus on stuff that actually mattered. But social norms are a powerful thing and before long I was obsessively scoping pant legs everywhere I went, searching for another boot-cut wearing thirty year old who was intelligent and respectable. I found not a one.

I dragged my feet, amply-draped as they were, for more months as a war raged in my mind. Yes this was becoming very distracting. Yes I could just go shopping. Yes I could afford new jeans. But I recoiled at the thought of wasting my life force on shopping just because of this change in the fickle winds of fashion, which were destined to blow in some other arbitrary direction before long.

To give in to such a thing would be the definition of group think, the herd mentality. How could I ever again claim to have and value an independent intellect? How could I continue to derogate the unreflective consumption that relentlessly strips the Earth bare of her resources so needlessly. Would Gandhi stop what he was doing to go buy some skinny jeans? Would Thoreau? How the ego and Self tussled over this.

Then one day a new idea, a new hope emerged from some interior crucible — an alloy one part authenticity, one part compromise:

“Take the jeans to a tailor and have them modified.”

What an odd idea? Surely the cost would exceed the price I’d paid for the jeans. Could a tailor even do such a thing? Well compared to the alternative, it would be money well spent, I resolved.

I sent them to a tailor who modified each pair, partially disassembling and then reassembling them to a straight cut (strategically splitting the difference between boot and skinny). He charged me $12 per pair.

Verily, I am now at peace, having acted in a manner supportive of my higher Self in its drive for independence and autonomy, yet while sheltering with these denim skins, my animal anxieties from fashion’s elements.

Epilogue: My original motivation, in case it got lost in this act of literature, was simply to remind people that improving things we already own can be more kind to planet and also, as in this case, can help support cottage industries that imbue society with resilience. Tailoring, not just dress clothing but even casual clothing, is a viable and affordable option. Till a few months ago, I didn’t know this.

One friend, upon reading this, pointed out that re-dying jeans is an option too. And others reminded that aiming for styles more classic and timeless can do much to elevate one above the fray.