I remember a few years ago I was at the mall with a good friend. He said he wanted to hop into a designer clothing store and buy some jeans. I watched with jaw dropped as he grabbed a pair of jeans with a price tag that read $105.00. I laughed and asked him why he would blow such unnecessary money on jeans when he could run down to American Eagle and get some pretty stylish ones for $35. I’ll never forget his reply.
“Dan, have you ever spent a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans?” I said no and again voiced how absurd it was. “Well, try it sometime and then let’s have this talk again.” Our next stop was American Eagle, where I bought a couple of $35 pairs of jeans that both looked great and fit great.
I liked those $35 jeans. I looked good in them. I took care of them. I always washed them in cold water and I always hang-dried them. After a couple months, I began having a real difficult time squeezing into them anymore. I hadn’t gained weight. They had simply shrunk, despite my best efforts to make sure they never did. As I found myself cutting off all circulation to button the fly, I thought about my history with jeans. Every few months I bought new jeans. Why? Because they always shrunk.
I shrugged my shoulders and drove to the mall to buy a few more pairs of the $35 variety. They fit. I was happy to have new pants. It was a cycle that I’d grown used to. And, of course, I repeated it again once those new pairs shrunk.
Then, I went through a divorce. When it was finalized, I took a deep breath and panicked. I had no clue how life in the single world worked anymore. I had no idea how to find success in dating.
For years I had preached to my employees that if they wanted to have a particular day turn-out incredible, they needed to feel incredible first, and if that meant going and splurging on a new dress shirt, blouse, or tie, then to do it. There’s just something about putting on a brand new, awesome new anything. It makes you feel confident. It makes you feel attractive. And others always feel that.
So, at that time when I felt uncertain and certainly not confident, I decided to follow my own advice. I walked into the same store in which my friend had paid $100 for a pair of jeans. I looked at the girl who first approached me and said, “I don’t care how much it costs. Make me look good.”
I didn’t really have the money to do that, but sometimes it’s not about the money. It’s about giving yourself something you need in life. I needed to feel good. I needed to feel that I was attractive. I needed to feel confident. Why? At that point and time, it was because the events of my life had simply made me feel the opposite. They made me feel bad. They made me feel unattractive. They took away my confidence.
The girl working the sales floor didn’t mess around. She helped me pick out an $80 shirt. She grabbed me a $90 pair of shoes. She found me a $50 belt and a $100 blazer. Then, she handed me a pair of $100 jeans. I looked at them and laughed. That day, the price didn’t matter. I wasn’t buying jeans, I was buying my life back.
I went into the changing room and slid the new jeans on. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly comfortable they were compared to any other jeans I’d tried on before. Absolutely sure that it was only the price tag making them feel that way, I looked at the label. 2% Spandex. That was it. They stretched a little. I squatted and bended in them. It was definitely more than the price tag. They were incredible.
I bought a single outfit and an additional pair of jeans. My total ticket came to over $500. I took a giant gulp and handed the girl my debit card. The funny thing is, I never had buyer’s remorse walking out that day. The only thing I felt was excitement. I had a date that weekend, and I was going to look good.
And I did look good. I felt like a million bucks. I was able to jump back into the game with confidence and a feeling of sexiness that wasn’t there just days earlier. The date went swimmingly. Too swimmingly, perhaps. I ended up marrying her.
The day after that first date, I called my friend and told him I was ready to have that talk. I told him that he had sold me. He laughed and pointed out that I’d only discovered the first reason to spend a hundred bucks on a pair of jeans. He told me to pay close attention to how long they hung around in my life. I did. Years later I still own those two pairs of jeans, I still feel like a million bucks when I wear them, and they haven’t shrunk in the slightest.
And that lesson has really made me ponder some things over the years. How often do I step over dollars to pick up dimes? How often do I put my effort and my hard earned money into crap that doesn’t make me feel good and doesn’t really last? How often do I miss out on the success of life that will always breed more success because I couldn’t see the longer-term vision of what investing in something amazing will ultimately give me?
Much worse still, how often did I feel like I wasn’t worth it?