My jeans don't fit.

I've gained a little (a lot!) of weight in the last year. I think that some of it is muscle from all the yoga, but some of it is just straight-up ice cream. It happens.

Unfortunately, it means that I'm back in my grad school dress pants and not able to get into any of my jeans at all. I've been wearing these for 5-6 years. When I started, I worked at the Gap so they were half price. Since then, they're constantly running some sort of 30-40% off promotion and combined with rewards points, I'm able to get them into the $20-35 range that I'm more comfortable with. (If I'm really good, I can get them for $10, but this takes some planning on my part.)

Some of you may remember from the summer, the wide leg makes me look taller and de-emphasizes the hip to upper-torso ratio somewhat. I like the effect, if I'm not totally thrilled with the silhouette.

They've recently made them online only and I'm a little nervous about the reviews saying the quality has changed (ass-stitching? Why would you take away the ass-stitching!), but it's a standby and it's there. There are two whole colors, which reminds me of being 16 and shopping for any Levis I wanted, which invariably meant that, in my size, there was a light and a not-as-light, and that the other 16-year olds were going to give me shit for months because my pants were "Mom jeans."

PANTS ARE A SENSITIVE SUBJECT, OK?!? But it's nice to have a standby.

Yesterday, after the KC/MO area meet-up, I stopped at a mall on the way home and tried jeans at Eddie Bauer (I worked there before the Gap. I am a creature of habit). I tried on these because they're the EB version of the Gap jeans, and probably what I wore for the five years preceding Gap's Long and Lean.

Guys, I've been wearing the same shape of pant since the 1990s. For a little while, they were carpenters. For a little while, they were the bell-bottom types with the embroidery on the bottom - I swear it was cool at the time - but they're always wide legs because that's what makes me look the least dumpy.

The sales associate brought these and in their mirrors, I loved the silhouette. I still need to bring FluterDude or my mother or someone who doesn't earn credit for making a sale with to make sure I'm not just looking from the ankles down. I've been known to see the one detail I like. I'd have been happier if there were some sort of stitching on the pocket, because that's a little more flattering for my particular badonka-donk, but I think I didn't look like a giant whale and, for the first time in over a decade, I wouldn't be in wide legs ...? The mind reels.

Then I looked at the price tag.

Oofta. Do people really pay $70 for jeans? Like ... really really? Or is there a way to game the EB sales system similar to the way I've been gaming the Gap?

(Over the summer, a lot of you suggested Old Navy jeans. I dutifully tried every fit, but the proportions just don't work on me. Lands End had potential, but would need some pretty hefty alterations in addition to some creative sales shopping, and the catalog bit drives me nutty. So I'm still open to other brand suggestions, but mostly I want to know if this is me being cheap or just oblivious to the ways of sale shopping.)

Is this a simple case of budget vs. style, or am I missing a more obvious solution? Bonus points for affordable pants that include a small amount of stretch.

(I googled pants and this image came up from my last post. Am I Google famous?!?)