I haven't been able to wear normal jeans (without an elastic waist) in a long time. If I bought jeans to fit my hips, the waist was almost always WAY too big. Since I wore a 34/36 when I started, I almost always had to buy from a catalog and so elastic waists were usually the safer bet.
A few months ago I was so excited to be able to buy off-the-rack. I found a pair of jeans that fit at Fashin Bug (Lane Bryant also carries the same brand and size, but charges more for them. The size was probably equivalent to a 32, I'm guessing (Right Fit size 8 blue).
Then, around Thanksgiving I bought a really nice pair of size 30 jeans at Goodwill for only a few dollars (they looked like they'd never been worn). I bought them against my better judgement, because they didn't fit - I couldn't get them zipped. The only reason I did buy them is that they fit well enough that I could tell that they'd fit perfectly if I lost just a little bit of weight.
In general, I only buy clothing that fits when I buy it. In the past, when I've bought clothing a full size smaller than I wear as an "incentive" when I got small enough for the outfit to fit - it didn't fit well or wasn't flattering. Or, I'd forget about it in my closet, and by the time I tried it on, it was already too big.
Today my Right Fit jeans were in the washing machine, and hubby and I were going to run errands, so I tried my size 30 jeans - and they FIT!!!!
I was really surprised. I had noticed that my Right Fit jeans were starting to feel a bit loose, but I thought maybe the spandex in the fabric was just stretching out a bit. But, with the smaller jeans fitting, I can tell that it's actually me that's shrinking, not the jeans stretching.
I was pretty excited.