I Found The Best Pair of Jeans

Also, it took me 8 years but I’m okay with pumps and bootcut denim again

11.07.17

Poll on whether or not your dad found it outrageous when, in the days before you earned your own income, you used his hard-earned money to buy distressed jeans with holes in them. Direct quote from mine: “Back in my day, blue jeans were practically free.” And let me guess: the holes in the knees came over time, not from a factory? He didn’t understand. But now that it’s my bank account, I get it: My money, when I choose to spend it on my wardrobe, had better go toward quality things that last — even if they’re superfluous. Whatever I buy has to outlive trends, flatter, make me happy and help solve multiple outfit equations.

This criteria has pointed me toward more expensive items of late. But the funny thing is that, even though I wear jeans more than any other item of clothing, I’m most resistant to invest in them. At least on my body, the quality of denim (or lack of it) shows loud and clear. There’s a clear difference when I compare the cheap-y pair I once grabbed in a going-out panic (it was a black, high-waist jeans emergency) to that of proper designer denim. So why do I balk at jeans, specifically, that encourage more of a wallet dip when I know I’ll be happier in the long run? I had no problem saving up for the investment blazer I swore I’d wear forever, a pair of shoes I promised to take to my grave and tailored trousers that I argued would be my one pair of professional pants until I retired.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I fell in love — in true love! — with a pair of Moussy jeans (the style is “Seaford Wide Straight”) I called into the office for a shoot. I stepped into them the moment the model left, and like something out of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, they made me feel like a million bucks.

They kind of were a million bucks, too. $330, to be exact. But they hit every criteria: they flattered, made me happy, helped solve multiple outfit equations. The quality showed, loud and clear. They were stiff like I like ’em. (I hate stretch.) The color was that sweet spot between could-be-vintage and timely-not-trendy. They were cool, too: the jeans were practically an outfit unto themselves. I don’t know the last time I was ever excited to put on denim, but with these, I get just as excited to wear them as though they were a party dress. They require heels to hit the right length for me; they’re not for shlubbing around.

So why not treat these as my “splurge”? If babysitting money, the metaphorical kind, doesn’t “have” to go toward anything (rent, bills, 401k), why not save it for jeans instead of a fancy top?

But what do you think? Are you of the camp who worships denim, true aficionados of the fabric who collect cult brands and put pairs in the freezer rather than washing machine to retain their purity and shape? Or are you someone who thinks jeans should be $60 max?

I don’t fall squarely into either category, but I’ve been told that when you know you’ve found the one, you know, and none of this stuff will matter. I’m in love with a pair of jeans, my friends, and I don’t care who knows it. I’m here to shout it from the rooftop: I’VE FOUND THE BEST JEANS EVER!!!

Photo by Edith Young, Denim Whisperer; Amelia is wearing a Cuyana x La Ligne shirt, SZ Block Prints jacket and H&M shoes.

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  • Adrianna

    I have a tough time wearing styles that were popular during my teenage and college years. It’s like all of my awkwardness and insecurities rush back the minute I look at myself in the mirror wearing flared jeans.

    Also, I generally spend an average of $40 on jeans via Hautelook/Nordstrom Rack

    • Kelsey

      Same. I shared an elevator with a woman wearing these amazing boot cut jeans last week and her outfit looks so RIGHT and cool and chic and I became obsessed. But then I went out looking for the right pair and every pair I tried on gave me flashbacks to myself in flared jeans and a juicy hoodie circa 2004 and I couldn’t do it.

  • Michelle Bruni

    I’ve never spent more than $50-60 on a pair of jeans because broke graduate student problems, but one day YES I’ll invest in those perfect-fitting jeans. The ones you bought are fabulous!! Huge fan.

    • Amelia Diamond

      what are your favs int he $50 to $60 range!!

      • Aleda Johnson

        Levi’s (to be expected) are my favorite in that range. They have your typical sizes as well as Petite and Tall, but they also have “straight, curve, and demi curve” options that change how roomy the hip and butt area are. They saved my ass–literally–when I finally grew hips in college because a lot of brands forget that I can be a 2, but have athletic thighs and a bootie.

      • Autumn

        I recently bought a pair of jeans for $70 from Banana Republic that have become the only jeans I wear now. They’re perfecto

        • Julia Horan

          As a BR employee, Banana jeans are great, especially when you get them for around $50 (Black Friday is coming and 50% off). My store tends to carry jeans with hella stretch (which is great for those activities where stretch is a MUST) but still look acceptable.

          However, I’ve recently tried on some of the slightly distressed girlfriend jeans, ones with less stretch, and those jeans are so flattering. Just be wary of the black/white/unusual colored denim (they tend to be very thin and not as nice).

          I get the rest of my ~$50 jeans (and under) from Gap, the Madewell/J. Crew sale section, and Abercrombie.

          (Listen, Abercrombie is really hitting the no stretch jean itch I have, and often at great prices in some trendy styles)

      • this is a truly obnoxious small girl thing, but a few years ago i discovered (via a youtuber) wrangler’s boys prorodeo jeans- stiff with an awkward mid/high rise and flare that i complemented with an awkward diy cropped hem. (theyre ~$20 from amazon prime.) i very recently found the asos florence jeans which i love because theyre simple and the leg isnt tapered enough to read as a mom jean. at $51 the only downside is that asos doesn’t make jeans in odd numbered sizes for some reason

        • breathlss79

          I once found great light grey jeans in the Target girls’ section. Long live the kids’ section.

  • irembezek

    Moussy has the best jeans! Very expensive but if you have budget, go for it. I have 2 and they stay at the shape. Also, they have a very elegant boutique in SoHo.

  • Amelia

    I’ve had Frame, Rag & Bone, etc etc but Madewell jeans are the only ones that consistently fit my weirdly shaped, ever-changing body!

    edit: that being said, I accidentally (through no fault of my own of course) spent like $200 on the most incredible wide leg jeans at Ulla Johnson oops

    • Hayley

      Madewell jeans are phenomenal and I swear by them. I wish their 10″ high-rise skinny jeans came in less stretchy options though!

      • Amelia

        YES I have 2 pairs of these!!! v stretchy but v good when my weight fluctuates (constantly)

    • Amelia Diamond

      i love madewell jeans too. i have one pair that i have worn for maybe 5 years straight now? white, straight leg and thick fabric. they save me whenever i can’t get dressed!

    • spicyearlgrey

      oops

  • Hayley

    Shirt details?

  • Samantha Lopez

    I tried a pair of Moussy jeans and immediately fell in love. I have yet to pull the trigger on buying a pair, but they really do fit amazing! They look so good on you.

  • theysayshycity

    Depends on your heel wearing capacity…I know and hold to be self evident that I don’t get things dry cleaned or tailored, so I keep myself from purchasing things that require this unless absolutely necessary.

  • Rachel

    I love high waisted jeans but I also need stretch because otherwise I just find pants too uncomfortable. They also need to be skinny because they spend half the year tugged into my winter boots. Because of the stretch and high waisted factor I find that my jeans tend to wear out or stretch out in less than a year so I can’t justify spending more than $80 on a pair. I’ve tried more expensive ones but they never seem to last so I don’t bother with them anymore.

    Right now I’m wearing Uniqlo’s high waist skinny jeans but it looks like they are phasing them out in favour of straight leg jeans :'(

    • Amanda Faerber

      Since you brought up Uniqlo … I am a big fan of the slim boyfriend cut. I don’t know if they could tuck into boots but the material is soft, they’re high rise, and have just enough slouch that they are super comfortable. I really wanted to find a shape that was perfect for the weekend (not the going out weekend – the running errands, being chill weekend) and these are it. Maybe a good option if you can’t find the skinny? They also have a cigarette style that at least looks skinnier than a straight leg.

    • dtjb

      I used to live in my Uniqlo high waist skinnies, but I recently got Everlane’s high waist skinny jeans (ankle length cuz I’m 5’3″), and I LURVE them. They are a lot stiffer than Uniqlo (bless the stretch), but not uncomfortable at all. There is some magic going on that prevents them from cutting in too much in the waist when you sit. I still wear my Uniqlos pretty often, but Everlane is quickly becoming my go to.

  • Maddie

    I’m completely and hopelessly in love with jeans. As a college student, I’m often the only one of my friends to reach for worn in denim instead of luon Lululemon leggings. I’ve invested in Hudson, J Brand, Paige and AG, but I’ve found the best fitting pairs (style, comfort, wash and cut) are from none other than Abercrombie & Fitch. They check all the boxes while maintaining a stellar price point (always under $100). I can’t be the only one loving their newly-revamped high waisted pairs!!

  • eva

    my holy grail jeans are a 20 year old pair of gap lean and longs that have LITERALLY grown with me [they are a size 4 and somehow contain my very NO LONGER size 4 butt/thighs. they have holes in the knees and look perfectly “distressed” because that happened organically. i dread the day they no longer fit or some other awful fate befalls them.

    • jiggahava

      gap jeans forever. My pair is about 4 or 5 years old and I have never bought a pair of jeans that fit me so perfectly. I throw them in the freezer to avoid washes, I love them so much.

      • Kelsey

        In the freezer to avoid washes?? This sounds like a hack I need. Pls explain!

        • jiggahava

          Find a large plastic bag or garment bag that’s sealable, then stick your jeans in the freezer overnight. The next morning, you will have clean-smelling jeans!

          • jiggahava

            Just don’t forget about them and leave them for two days, like I do.

          • Erin Dear

            I have wanted to try this method, but I find my jeans stretch out around the butt and hip area, and after being washed they spring back. Do you know of a way to get a similar result without washing?

          • Lindsay D

            i am curious too, do you use dryer sheets or something? I hate washing my levis but I sweat!

          • jiggahava

            Sealable garment bags! Or large plastic bags.

      • Mollie Ward

        The only skinny jeans I wear at this point are a high waisted pair of skinnies that I got second hand. All about those mom cuts cause BUTT.

  • Emily

    I love the waist on those. I’m having trouble getting back on the wide leg/bootcut trend after the trauma of middle school low cut bell bottom stretch jeans, but these are lovely.

  • Akosua Adasi

    So far my favourite pair of jeans are from AG! They’re comfortable and easy but make me look and feel pretty fly

  • gracesface

    Still daydreaming of a paif of Sawary 38 jeans I bought for like $10 at Salvation Army in high school and wore until they had a zillion holes in them (I worked at a horse farm and was by myself a lot and didn’t care if people could see my butt). apparently it’s a denim brand from Brazil? I miss ’em.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    we need a full 360 view, amelia! and i don’t say that to be creepy! it’s for (shopping) science.

  • Anna Kathryn

    American Apparel’s High Waist Jean. Slim fit, tapered and non-stretch but wear in so perfectly they end up being comfortable while maintaining their shape and firmness. I found I had to go up from my normal size, but I think that’s due to being used to denim with 1-2% elastane in it. I paid around AUD$130 for them which is super reasonable. And it looks like they still make them…

  • Edith

    (Who let me get away with that photo credit)

  • Kattigans

    MOTHER denim is my holy grail. I also like Madewell’s jeans and Rag & Bone. Also I know buying jeans online can be tough but The real real is awesome if you know what brands you like and know your sizing. Can get some MOTHER’s on there for $60

  • Rachel Finkelstein

    The Liya by Citizens of Humanity will forever be my best denim splurge– my ass has never looked so good. But I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a pair of Rolla’s for a few weeks now (which are roughly under $100), and have just added these to the list!

    Amelia, as a short girl, can I ask how tall you are? The bottom of these jeans look perfectly distressed and I would hate to ruin them by hemming.

    • Hayley

      The Liya is a godsend. I have yet to buy them, but man, do they fit like a dream…

    • Kattigans

      I’m not too sure which Rolla’s you’re interested in but I have a pair and wasn’t too happy with them. The denim had some stretch and I didn’t think the cut was that flattering on me. Just giving an opinion

  • chouette

    What if I feel this way, but for knit shirts/t-shirts? My absolute favorite long-sleeve tee is Jil Sander from the sample sale probably five (!) years ago! It still looks amaze but I can’t fathom paying full retail for it, even though it’s outlasted like 3 Uniqlo shirts..?

  • Samantha s

    I am a dad – not literally, but I HATE holes! If I’m going to pay $330, I have to be able to wear jeans to my business casual office. Holey jeans (& beer, which I learned the hard way) are strictly against policy!

  • TinySoprano

    My favourite splurge jeans ever were a pair of high-waist wide-leg white ones from Joe’s Jeans that I got admittedly on mega mega sale (we’re talking 80% off kind of mega) and make me look like I might know my way around a boat. They even have a stain-resistant coating, which is great because I don’t actually know my way around a boat but I definitely know my way around a bottle of soy sauce…

  • Mallory

    Amelia, I totally get it. I just had a similar experience. We also have similar body shapes and like the same style of jeans. I just discovered Grlfrnd jeans at Barney’s and Revolve. The Helena style is amazing! Please try them. I know you will like them!

  • Anna Kalmbach

    Amelia how do you do 100% cotton? I’m part of the big leg tiny waist tribe and literally can’t get denim with no stretch past my knees. Teach me your secret

  • Saskia

    Sine all denim tends to disintegrate for me after ~2 years (no matter the material or care), I tend to err on the more affordable side. Topshop has seriously great jeans and as a skinny jeans die hard fan I live in their Jamie style. they make up 80% of my lower-body-wear.
    A few years ago I fell in live with a pair of amazing Citizens of Humanity jeans in the blackest black I’ve ever seen on jeans. They too disintegrated and left me heartbroken

    • Ana

      YES! I don’t understand how people wear denim for years and years. I’ve tried cheap and expensive and I have the same issue. 2 years max. I would love to invest in some vintage denim but very reluctant knowing they just won’t last me 🙁
      I really like monki and edwin jeans, they have lasted me the longest for a reasonable price.

  • Whitney V

    I’m TOTALLY with you girl! It’s crazy, but a great pair of jeans is so worth every penny! I’m obsessed with Re/Done, love the vintage cuts and high waisted jeans, they make me feel like a pinup and they’re gorgeous quality. If I wear them at least once a week for 10 years then I basically got them for free haha!

    Love from London,
    Whit

    http://www.whitneyswonderland.com

  • Ana

    Hello! I love vintage jeans, but the search is very difficult (online, I mean). For new jeans, I like Acne, APC, but I guess those are the brands I have tried on and as such can guess quality and fit. For a higher price point I wouldn’t buy online without seeing first and trying on. Sometimes you find great jeans in Zara (their new Real line is good).

  • Leslie Hitchcock

    This feels like Jenna Lyons at her best.

  • Cristina

    Yeah, I can’t imagine wearing all cotton demin. My waist to hip/butt ratio just doesn’t do it. I mean I like the “higher quality look” which is a little unfair I guess. But none that I love. I kinda just wear what’s comfy, what fits and what I’m stuck with. My natural weight fluctuates too much that it seems silly to invest hundreds in jeans. Now you have Good American denim (which I won’t support on principle lol) and LaLa Anthony has a line for curvy women but still, if I’m going to pay $$$ I need some kind of guarantee they aren’t going to stretch out the same as the cheap stuff!

  • Ashley

    P.S. NEVER pay retail before checking eBay. After a brief glance, I found several pairs within the $95-$200 (OBO!) range, depending on your fit and style of choice. All have that great crotch design (that makes us love vintage Levi’s honestly). You’re welcome!

  • Poires Poires

    For fellow phat ass/small waist ladies: ASOS Farleigh jeans. Inexpensive, 98% cotton so they won’t lose their shape or hole up, and I feel so much like my best self whenever I wear them (I have like 5 pairs in different colors and am contemplating buying doubles to stock up….).

    Madewell jeans have been pretty good to me too, but more so when I’m at a lower weight than a juicier one.

    • Poires Poires

      oh also – American Apparel’s denim and pants were strangely freakin bangin for curvy body types. I think flattering shorts are even harder to get right than full jeans, but their shorts (100% cotton!) have fit me better than any other. Emphasis on *short* though.

      • Same – I miss their basics for their shape, but not for the quality. I remember going through at least a few of their jeans (and shorts) when I was working for the company. The zippers would always break!

    • Kelly

      I second the Farleigh! That was the best random ASOS purchase I ever made. I’m about to buy a couple more since they’re having 30% off everything right now.

  • bluesun21

    I never spent real money on jeans until this year, and I’m 34 years old. I finally had it with cheapo stretch denim and bought a pair of GRLFRND jeans… and then like a week later bought a second pair. I never knew what I was missing until now.

  • Zoë Murrie

    I always flirted with more expensive jeans (ag, madewell, pilcro) and usually felt really happy with them. Recently, I was tempted by a two-for-one denim special at UO and I’ve never regretted a purchase more in my life. The jeans are too big for me now and not nearly as flattering or high quality as my more expensive jeans. I may never forgive myself! But I’m vowing to invest in jeans from now on

  • N A

    Must join in the conversation!! I have learned that jeans are part of one’s story, especially if you work in them. They’re multi-purpose; can be dressed up, down, for working in the office, meeting with clients, and working in front of the computer for hours. Preferences do change, I like skinnies because I don’t deal with all that extra fabric if I must swap heels for flats. Also, don’t like low jeans, which I did when it was a trend, so you learn to identify what you like and love.
    Totally think you should invest if they make you really happy, if not, then look for deals, meaning sales of jeans that you like. I don’t believe in cheap jeans, they smell bad, of sulfur or something weird like that, especially of late–might be the fabric or process, don’t know but they do. Manufacturers/designers have been implementing other fabric blends too, instead of cotton/spandex, not too keen of that either.
    I don’t even think we realize how much we spend in general to circumvent the price of the “real” pair of jeans you want. Instead, buying 5 at $40-$60 without loving any, that’s $250 gone with no love.

    Also, think about the environment, as shown in that documentary, True Cost.

  • Kimberley Boehm

    I abhor jeans with stretch, so I take care of my many years old Levis 501s. When I need to dress up, I put on Acne Lita jeans (bought on sale for $100). They’re close fitting, but flared. Somehow they magically make my 57 year-old body look all right. Or at least my spouse claims they don’t make my bum look fat.

  • It’s always wonderful when you find a GREAT pair of jeans, I always find jeans difficult to find due to my slender frame and being 5’1 but with long lean legs 🙂

    These jeans really suit you ever so nicely.

    Laura xo
    http://www.shehearts.net

  • Emily Michaelis

    true religion and J Brand.

  • Maurine

    that’s awesome !!!!

  • Daniel Szilagyi

    Personally as a man jeans have been hard for me to find that i like and fit me well, i used to looooove Fossil (back when they sold clothing) and i bought some American made cotton jeans in a regular fit but after they closed i had to look around.
    I personally couldn’t stand brands like Joe’s, Mavi, Paige, Hudson, Diesel and so on…either weird cuts and fits or far too expensive.
    i’ve settled on AG jeans ( i know expensive as well but i get them on sale at Nordstroms when i can ) or Levi’s for everyday ( 511,514 and 505 styles)

  • Hi Amelia Diamond, Looking so gorgeous in this jeans. Wish to know your secrets. Go ahead.

  • Jennifer Piff

    Vintage Levi’s are my go-to. I find them at flea markets and vintage stores for cheap. I mainly look for the wash, the fabric (no stretch), the rise and the classic button fly. Anything that needs to be adjusted (take in the waist, hemming, taper the leg) I’ll have done by my tailor. All my jeans are custom that way. With tailoring, they usually come in under $100. I once got a pair for $25 and turned them into a denim skirt. And people are always stopping and asking where I got them!

  • I have jeans like this from–get this– Abercrombie and Fitch that I’ve had for approximately 13 years now and I refuse to throw them out. Perfect color, perfect fit, perfect cut. The waist is obviously lower slung; twas the millennium after all. Thanks for inspiring me to bust those bad boys out and attempt to style them. I’ve kept my distance while skinnys and straights have dominated denim, but can’t deny that my “big leg tiny waist” shape (glad to know there’s a tribe of sisters out there) benefits from the relaxed, flared cut.