Ooh, look at those jeans. Aren’t they so happy? Orchid or lavender or lilac colored anythings bring an instant smile to my face.
Really, you have no idea how much I love this color.
On my first visit to Stockholm (2003?) when I did makeovers on women over 40 for the magazine, Tara, I had some walking around time. Being a paper freak I went into a store full of notebooks of every size and color and bought this one in lavender. The gold color of my office walls is maybe blowing this image out but believe me, every blessed page is lavender.
To flip me into a better mood if I’m in a rough one, all I have to do is pull out this notebook and inhale the color. Calms me right down.
This Mother’s Day my girls gave me that orchid colored bud vase by Heath Ceramics. I keep it at my bedside. It sends me off into pleasant dreams at night.
And what about those pieces of orchid colored fabric that are sitting on the notebook? Oh darlings, that question will be answered. All you have to know now is that this is a story about love, lust, unrequited love, separation, desperation, heroic efforts, battles nearly lost, but through it all comes redemption. It doesn’t have a perfect ending, but it has the right ending.
Our (s)heroes journey begins
Last February 26th, we were on a shopping trip with my client Sue and we were in J.Jill. Erin and I do what we always do, comb the store for what we think will work and then head to the dressing room. If a client needs a different size I step back out on the floor and pick it up. Somehow the moment when my eyes spotted a pile of orchid jeans was caught on camera. It wasn’t until the client left that I actually let myself go back to that table edge and take in the full orchid experience.
Love at first glance? Oh yes. Did I snatch them up and bring them home that very day? Oh no. I admired them but left them in the store. I’m an indigo denim girl. Would I really wear orchid jeans?
And then I thought of them…and thought of them…night after night. I posted a pic of them on Facebook and asked you guys for advice. “Should I buy them?” Readers said yes, readers said no, one reader said, “I’d cut off the hem” and another reader said, “I’d buy them and bring them home and never wear them.”
Two weeks later, I bought them, brought them home, and never wore them.
Why? Je ne sais pas! My mind tried to come up with answers.
Maybe they’re too bright.
The weather we’re having isn’t in synch with orchid jeans.
If I put a color with them I’ll be a walking carnival.
Do I want everyone staring at my bottom half because the color’s so eye-catching?
How will I bring attention to my face?
The orchid jeans go back
Every day that goes by that I haven’t had an urge to wear a new purchase makes me less and less committed to it. In time I folded them up and put them in the black bin in the trunk of my car. It’s a bin for emergency reading and writing materials, a first aid kit, and anything that requires an errand. Returning these jeans would be an errand I’d tackle one day when I was in Marin.
It’s amazing how many days and weeks went by with no time to stop by J.Jill to return orchid jeans. The one day I did have time I realized I didn’t have the receipt with me. I found it at home and added it to the pocket of the jeans for next time.
The car carrying the orchid jeans faces potential disaster
Another few weeks went by and near-disaster showed up. I was heading out of Sonoma on Highway 121, which has one lane in each direction and winds through vineyards. It was raining. My windshield wipers were going as fast as they could trying to keep up. All of my attention was on the road. A large white van headed toward me in the opposite lane. Our headlamps were six feet from each other when two things happened simultaneously. The driver swerved to the right in front of me flying down the ditch. My car and windshield got pelted with gravel from the shoulder of the road as he flew through a vineyard going 55 miles per hour. For a moment the rain and the gravel blocked my view. There was nowhere for me pull over and stop.
I looked in my rear-view mirror and watched the van speeding like a bullet before turning over on its side. Two cars going in the van’s direction pulled over. Thank God, there was help.
With the force and suddenness of everything that happened, I knew in my heart of living hearts that if the van had veered left instead of right, I’d most likely be dead on impact.
Did I need to tell you that dramatic part? Well, yes, because then you’ll understand what must have happened next to the orchid jeans.
My car headed to the body shop a couple of weeks later for repairs. For eight days those jeans were in the trunk. (Or were they?) When I got my car back I knew I had to take care of this return pronto. Thank goodness for J.Jill’s generous return policy.
If you’re not completely satisfied with your J.Jill purchase, we’ll gladly accept returns of merchandise that is unworn, unwashed, undamaged or does not meet your quality expectations within 90 days of the original purchase.
Returning the orchid jeans, finally
At last, I’m returning the jeans at the Village Shopping Center. I popped the trunk and pulled them out and gasped. They were riddled with black marks. It looked like the orchid jeans had been on the Sonoma Raceway track and a race car had done wheelies on them. It had to have happened while my car was in the shop. It wasn’t a little bit of damage; it was a lotta bit of damage. I folded them back into the tattered black bin (yes, it was damaged too) and headed home.
The redemption part
These jeans were never going back to J.Jill. They weren’t going into a landfill either. We’d come too far for that.
I pulled out the OxiClean.
I did what I’ve successfully done with stains. I dissolved some Oxi into warm water and let them soak, for hours. I had every confidence that the stains would be out soon. That night I pulled them out of the water. The stains were still there. I decided to let them soak overnight.
The next morning I pulled them out of the water and there were the stains. I scrubbed at them with my knuckles and they got a little fainter. I stopped before my knuckles were bloody.
I called for Russ. “Honey, when you’d get stains on your clothes from bike chains, how would you get them out?” “I don’t know how to tell you this Brenda, but they didn’t come out,” he said.
That only gave me more fire in my belly. I was Lady Macbeth. Out damned spots. OUT!
I decided to rinse the pants and start over with a new batch of OxiClean. There wasn’t much left in the box after I measure it out. Russ said, “You might as well add the rest.” So I did.
I went another round. When I pulled them out twelve hours later the stains weren’t all gone but I decided it was good enough. Actually, the color seemed softer, dustier, more like my notebook. I reread the directions. “Some stains require repeated or longer treatments. Adding more OxiClean powder than directed increases the risk of color loss.”
I do believe my frantic efforts to save the orchid jeans resulted in color change. I washed and dried them and then followed the advice of one that Facebook friend. I cut off the hem on each leg and let them fray. They were softer, more faded, and more relaxed. Now I was (seriously) wearing them five days in a row and getting compliments every day.
People are saying, “Oh my gosh, your jeans are so cute!” and “Brenda, I just want to run out and buy orchid jeans!” and “You’re going to single handedly bring purple back wearing those jeans.”
We were back in the closet with our client Sue last week putting together summer outfits when I wore my orchid jeans again. Erin spotted the faint stains down near my ankles. She said, “Mom, you have a little something on your jeans.” My heart expanded. I have so much love and appreciation for these imperfect, I-did-my-best jeans. Those little marks that I couldn’t get out? They are evidence of a meaningful relationship where I worked bloody hard to save a pair of jeans I’d decided to let go off. Some things are just meant to be!
Dear friends, what items of clothing have you worked hard to save? Was it worth it? Do share!