This is a tale to illustrate how truly obsessive I had become about clothes. I mean Obsessive. About. Clothes.
About ten years ago, my sister-in-law gave me an olive, fair isle, cardigan vest from Eddie Bauer. I liked it but had nothing to wear with it. So I went online and found a pair of greyish olive khakis from Lands End overstocks. (I do all my shopping online.) And over time I just grew to love those pants. I wore them with the afore-mentioned vest. I bought a greyish-green argyle cashmere cardigan that went with them. I bought a pink corduroy shirt with small rosebuds and leaves the color of the pants. Etc.
Over the next several years, I wore the pants so much that they frayed at the hems and were no longer presentable to wear to the office. What to do? I has several outfits constructed around those pants. I freakin' loved them. And nobody made anything remotely like them anymore.
So I bought a pair of hunter green formal twill pants from Lands End. (I have single-handedly kept Lands End prosperous.) I liked the new pants ok, but they didn't have the same comfortable feel as the khakis.
Then I bought a pair of wool pants in a sort of heathered mossy green from a discount place. They weren't very good quality, and the fabric pilled. Plus, they had to be dry cleaned, and they weren't even remotely like my casual khakis.
Then I bought these from Eddie Bauer. Good color. I like the fabric, which is woven and slightly coarse, and I like the boot-cut style. But they are low waisted, and I feel silly at my age having to buy special underwear to wear low-riding pants. 'Nough said. I still wear them, but I'm careful about what top I pair them with. (Translate that into longer tops for coverage.)
I bought another pair from Land's End that weren't khakis. They are a slicker, dressier material (I forget what), but they are lighweight and machine washable. They're very nice—a good compromise between formal and casual—and I like them a lot. But they're not the same.
I also bought a pair of olive green, knit corduroys with an elastic waist. They work great under my sweaters, but they make me feel middle-aged.
So what did I finally end up with—five pair of pants in the olive/moss color range? I never wear the wool ones anymore, but each of the others has found its own niche in the crazy universe of Ruth's wardrobe. However, none of them has ever come close to being the perfect replacement for the pair I wore out.
The moral of the story? Don't let your identity get wrapped up in anything as external as a piece of clothing. And never try to recreate an idealized piece of your past. It's way too expensive and just plain futile.
P.S. Anyone know where I can get a sage-green, knee-length, chino skirt? I spilled dishwasher soap on mine about five years ago, and it left a bleached-out spot, and I've been looking for a replacement ever since. (Just kidding.)