What a Weird Thing: I Gave Away My Favorite Jeans

And then ran around naked for three days. JK! Here’s what happened.


It always goes like this: I feel like my closet is on the brink of disorganization, I see that my closet is on the brink of disorganization and then suddenly — as if I never saw it coming — I am like a drunk attempting to add a tip to the bottom of a restaurant bill: completely incoherent. Unaware of how to move a decimal, or what part of your person a sweater is supposed to cover.

And every time this happens, like clockwork, I Marie Kondo the shit out of my closet. If there is even a question mark about the validity of a garment’s place on the rack, it goes.

This last happened following the Spring 16 season of Paris Fashion Week. I returned home with the same (carry-on) suitcase I left with, bringing back exactly nothing new save for one knit dress, yet none of the contents of my tiny luggage fit back into my closet. So I freaked out — Who fed the armoire steroids? — and started cleaning.

Do I need more than one bright red sweater? Probably not. Discard. And what’s the deal with these three nearly identical white shirts? Dis, dis, discard. When’s the last time I wore that blue dress? Bye! And as for the towering pile of jeans right there to the left? By the end of this cleanse, you will be a tidy, small stack.

Now pause. Right here is where I make the most curious decision to jettison not one but two pairs of my most frequently worn jeans. Both are vintage Levi’s. Both are cropped. Both have weathered the elements, resulting in authentic rips, which I have cultivated with my own two knees. But both, too, have abandoned their responsibilities to cover my ass and now feature neither a pocket nor any fabric over their respective left cheeks. And so, we separate.

I thought exactly nothing of this detachment while it was in motion. I reasoned that beyond these pants there were many others and that removing myself from the comfort of their fade would force me to make The Hard Decisions about who I want to be, you know, from a denim perspective.

Surely there is more to me than a couple pairs of pre-owned jeans, right?



Much in the same way you don’t divorce your husband if you’re happy and in love, you do not throw away a pair of pants that your legs regularly frequent nor do you assume you can live without them.

Or at least that’s how I felt during the withdrawal phase. I was pretty sure that like Samantha Jones in that episode of Sex and the City where she is convinced she lost her orgasm, I had reached my fashion climax. Had tried too hard for too long and my load had been blown. My brain could no longer process outfits. Henceforth, it would be just myself and some cable knit sweaters, trudging along as though amphibian specialists based in Rhode Island.

What was it that impelled me to eliminate precisely what made getting dressed and feeling good easy? Who does that?

But I didn’t concede to defeat. I experimented with new stuff: new jeans (not vintage ones) that did not slice my vagina lips in half and skirts and trousers and dresses and such. It was uncomfortable, which sounds trivial, but is, I think, a metaphor for forcing yourself to step away from the stuff you know and dive into the cleavage of what you don’t. Because then, like that lighthouse beacon that people love calling “hope,” a cool lesson did emerge: it had never been about the jeans. Obviously. This was all about me and my reluctance to evacuate The Comfort Zone.

Those pants represented a safety blanket. Having them (just knowing they were there) eliminated my needing to think. They meant I didn’t have to try. Getting rid of them, then, was an exercise in stretching my style. And I was relieved to learn that I could do it — it’s important to know that you can fall asleep without blankie.

But now that they’re gone and the lesson is learned, I feel much better about the truth: I want my jeans back.

Collage by Emily Zirimis


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  • Funny, I am recently on the quest for my own pair vintage jeans. But I definitely understand what you mean. Since donating a crap-ton of clothes last year, I have found my closet to be in dire need of new things. I’ve since started experimented with new fabrics (velvet!) and cuts. It feels nice to get out of the rut.

  • Jimena

    Hola! Wondering what Levi’s number were they? (901? 501? 550?) Just as you gave away yours I might try and look for a pair myself – not easy to find the right cut though…

    • Leandra Medine

      Pretty sure they were 501’s! And orange tab no less

    • They do look like 501s, probably from the 80s given the ever so slight taper and the rise. You can also look for 505s, which are very similar in cut, but have a zipper instead of button fly.

      Am I a dick if I post a link to my etsy shop? I have several pair of Levis right now and am always adding more. I’m doing it anyway! https://www.etsy.com/shop/SadieBessVintage?section_id=7571155&ref=shopsection_leftnav_3

  • Brit

    Can you get them back?? I sure as hell hope so bc I loved those jeans so much. Numero 9 is still one my all time favorite looks of yours!

    • Leandra Medine

      I don’t even know where they are at this point.

      • Brit

        Should I staple flyers around the East Village?!

        • sarah

          Number 9 is also my favourite look. oh dear LM.

  • Sarah

    I’m actually super bummed for you about this.

  • nygirltrappedinfl

    I have a friend who recently hired a “stylist” to empty her closet and donate about 80% of her clothing, paring down her wardrobe and keeping only those items that said stylist felt worked for her…..I would have to kill this person if they talked me into tossing my most beloved item…..Change is hard and there are some pieces we just reflexively throw on because they make us feel sooooo good. Hopefully you have flexed a new “fashion muscle” and will replace said jeans with something amazing…..but those jeans were really cool….

  • Cathy

    My favorite jeans are now a pair of short, short cut-offs thanks to my husband. He told me one day that he was SO tired of seeing me wear them that if I didn’t get rid of them he would cut the legs off. A few days later, I found them in the laundry basket and the legs were GONE! Yep, and they remain in my closet forever.

  • Julie

    When you clean out your closet, what do you do with your stuff? I am finding myself in the middle of the same process and never know what to do with the middle-tier brands- Donate? Sell? Help!

    • I donated 20 pounds of clothing (a lot of it office attire, like Banana Republic) and 10 pounds of linens to a nearby homeless shelter in 2015. I’m currently accumulating a bag to donate this week. I tried selling and realized going to Beacon’s Closet was a giant mistake. Storing all that clothing while trying to sell on ebay defeated the purpose of decluttering my life (and time.) It would have been nice to make some money, but this was another way to donate my money or time to charity.

    • nygirltrappedinfl

      I donate most items and sell a few higher end items on Poshmark when I have the time and inclination.

  • Natty

    this just seriously stressed me out…

  • Aydan

    My trust black skinny jeans just ripped sliced right through the leg. In a fit I tossed them in the trash and attempted to re-order them online. Only to discover I had re-ordered a similar pair that is FAR tighter than the original pair. Thank god I took a picture of the item number…Def need to track them down! (aka I feel your pain)

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  • Addie

    Yikes, been there. I oscillate between “Kondo that shit!” and “I have no acceptable pants anymore” on a weekly-ish basis.

    Semi-related: I found a pair of 501’s at Buffalo Exchange a couple months ago but haven’t worn them yet because I felt like the rise was kind of weird and I couldn’t decide what length shirt to wear them with. This slideshow = godsend.

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    Maybe even worse than when I let my friend wear mine and she ripped them in the crotch. Crotch cut with no hope for saving. Sad day 2015.

  • Jill

    Leandra, I think you should get those jeans back?

  • JEN

    Wish you threw them away to me…so hard finding a vintage levi’s that fit me (I have a size 25 waist). I hope you reply with an answer as to where to purchase one! Really having a hard time here….been to so many vintage stores in nyc..can’t find one that fits me. Searched online to be disappointed with the result of “sold out”…PLEASE HELP ME

    • ThisPersonSleeps

      Reformation and Asos Marketplace both have them.

  • Dear Leandra, what slider plugin do you use? Thank you 🙂

  • Agathe Yolandi

    Hey Leandra ! I am reassured to not be the only one who has 501 jeans (as cool as it is) that slice the vagina lips in half ! haha ! (sorry for my english, I have an excuse, i’m french…) bisou

  • Emily Valentine Parr

    SOOOOOOOOO…Can i have the jeans you threw away then?

    • Leandra Medine

      if you find them, yes!

      • Emily Valentine Parr

        Omg don’t they are blatently sat under some Coke cans in a New York landfill

  • I bought a few grown-up pieces this fall (after graduating from theatre school, where leggings are king). I was so excited to have a more put-together look, but never really wore the new stuff. I’m still wearing leggings. Maybe it’s time to bid them farewell… I feel your pain!

  • ThisPersonSleeps

    Q: What coat are you wearing in picture No. 11??

    • Leandra Medine

      that would be a jil sander coat that i found on yoox a couple of years ago. actually just sent it to the real real for sale (was a bit too big on me), so you might be able to find on there!

  • Kitty

    Hi Leandra, I find it pretty difficult to find a pair of vintage Levi’s 501 that fits as perfectly as your pairs do on the photos. Did you get them in your usual jeans size or how many sizes did you go up?

  • ecot

    Dearest Leandra and gals…PLEASE let’s learn to distinguish our lady parts – ie: vagina is the internal part of our ‘privates’ the external bits are our labia and the whole “V” area is our vulva. please! and thank you! (pet peeve of mine) just settin’ the terminology straight – bisou!

    • Leandra Medine

      but but but saying labia is so much more fun!

  • Ethan

    I actually just discovered my new favorite jeans… so in love with the boyfriend ripped up look. I have yet to find an outfit where these were not appropriate 🙂 linked here just in case anyone else was looking

  • b.e.g.

    I gave up to goodwill my wedding dress. What was I thinking? And a gorgeous pair of kid skin, wide leg pants, high waisted, a slight overhang above waistband of multi colour stripes… unbelievable. Probably the most expensive pair of pants I have ever purchased, aroung $600 in 1990, would probably be $3k today. Crazy gorgeous. Why? Because I thought those would never be back in style. Ugh! I feel sick every single time I look in my closets desperate to find them hoping that maybe, just maybe, they got stuck between something I haven’t pulled out in years and so there they would be just waiting patiently for me to find them. But no. Not so lucky. I have removed every garment, opened every box of to be donated garments (which I now review 20 times before making the leap), and still no kid suede pants. What’s worse is that I also have the thought they didn’t actually sell them for charity, but someone there had the sense to confiscate them, and put $10 into the pot.

  • Adardame

    When going someplace new I’m often torn between wanting to dress up so I look impressive when I meet new people, and wearing something like jeans and a t-shirt in which I will be most in my comfort zone. Sometimes I opt for comfort zone only to find everyone else is dressed up, and then I feel awkward.

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  • Alex Frasca

    I want to knowwww where all your discarded clothes go…’cause can they be transported into my closet? that’d be super.

  • TheVogueCIEL

    I wore my levi’s 501’s 3 times a week, and then bought a second (slightly more fitted) pair and rooted between the two wearing them almost everyday. Eventually I put them in the attic because I was stuck in a clothing rut and they were my fashion comfort blanket, and a comfort blanket’s are not cute for anyone over the age of three!
    P.S I took them out of the attic two months later…)

  • AryaChic

    Problem with spring cleaning is…you always look for the clothes you threw away next spring :-/


  • Pandora Sykes

    I LITERALLY CAN’T BELIEVE YOU GOT RID OF THESE JEANS. They fit you so well. But also, am with you on the vagina lips. Vintage jeans are killing my poo-say.