The bag is familiar and not just because this particular one has rested against my mirror for far too long. The creamy, neutral stripes and pink accents mark it as coming from one of my favorite stores; it’s not the first of its kind that has entered our house, and it won’t be the last.

But I sigh when I look at this bag because I know I need to get back to the mall to return its contents, a lone pair of skinny denim jeans in the blackest of blacks.

I want them, and I need them, even by fairly tight standards of need. After purging my closets of pants that are too big or too small or torn into unwearable oblivion I am wearing my only pair of pants — jeans I bought last year that were supposed to be an “in-between” pair until I found something that fit better and looked better and magically crafted a butt out of this pancake-like tush of mine. And now they are my only pants in fall in Michigan, a state that’s already flirting with the idea of snow.

I want them, and I need them, and I will be returning them to a store I shop from frequently because I found a similar pair at a lower price, and clothes shopping since I’ve had kids has become a juggling act of needs and wants and quality and quantity.

After years of pushing denim aside for sleek black “bar pants” in college and tailored pants during my teaching days and my beloved skirts and dresses, I fell in love with a fabulous pair of jeans several years ago. I felt taller in them and slimmer; they fit not just my body but my life — dressed up with heels and a sleek tank, dressed down with boots and a sweater.

They don’t fit anymore, and I don’t mind … too much … but I’m still promising myself I’ll return to the land of cute denim.

The jeans in the bag, the ones slated for return, aren’t the magic carpet of jeans. They’re cute and stylish and functional and would keep me warmer than the thin tights I donned last Thursday. When I purchased them I thought they might bridge the gap between what I need (warm legs) and what I want (a killer pair of jeans).

Then I saw the less expensive pair and numbers ran through my head, and practicality won out when I realized the kids have grown yet again (who says they’re allowed to keep doing that?) and I’m not the only one with clothing needs.

So I will return them, and I will spread the money around to cover the most ground before it gets too cold outside. But I haven’t done it yet because part of me wants to believe there’s a little bit of magic left in that bag … and because I’m not quite sure I trust myself around the clearance rack and adorable dresses that live there.

How have your shopping habits changed in the last five years?




About Angela

Angela blogs at Tread Softly where she expresses her passion for writing and captures the humor and beauty that weave together with the ordinary moments in our lives to create something extraordinary. She juggles her two children, her husband, writing and running while wearing high heels and lip gloss applied by a four-year-old. In addition to writing at Just.Be.Enough. she is an Assistant Editor at Write on Edge, a on-line writing community for fiction and creative non-fiction authors. Visit or connect with Angela on twitter @angelaamman.

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