Like roasted Brussels sprouts and royal babies, jeans are one of those things people never seem to tire of talking about — for good reason, too, considering they’re an international wardrobe staple responsible for billions of conversations about butts and hundreds of billions of dollars in sales.

Unlike roasted Brussels sprouts and royal babies (the majority of which are perfect), great jeans are hard to find. I’ve expended months of my life and large quantities of my brain space in pursuit of jeans that “have it all” — a flattering shape, a classic-but-not-dated aesthetic and a waistband that doesn’t make me regret sitting down or eating a large lunch. I’ve found some go-to brands over the years (Madewell, Helmut Lang and Trave come to mind), but I’m always on the lookout for new contenders.

It only recently occurred to me that there might be a more efficient way of narrowing down the search pool: I reached out to five major retailers and asked them to point me in the direction of the most popular pair of jeans on their site, figuring that masses of happy customers would be a helpful barometer for finding The One(s).

I tried on the designated pair from each retailer and ranked them according to fit, appearance and feel. Scroll down to see how five of the most popular jeans on the internet stack up.


Retailer:

REVOLVE

Most Popular Jeans:

GRLFRND Helena High-rise Straight Jean

My Review:

I’d been curious about the denim brand GRLFRND after seeing it pop up on a number of different sites. I was particularly intrigued by the vintage-looking high-waist silhouettes, so I was excited that this particular pair turned out to be REVOLVE’s top seller.

I pulled them on and fell promptly in love, a revelation I found almost disappointing because it made the rest of my experiment seem pointless. Why continue trying on multiple pairs of jeans when you’ve already tried on a pair that makes your shin bones sing!? The waistband and hemlines hit me at just the right spots, which is tricky to achieve when you’re on the short side like I am, and the fabric felt soft but still substantial (i.e., not too thin or stretchy). I would have liked the pockets to be slightly bigger, but that’s my one and only criticism. As for comfort, I wouldn’t necessarily want to wear them on a nine-hour flight, but they definitely felt good enough to wear, sit in and eat in for a day.

Fit: 5/5

Appearance: 4/5

Feel: 4/5


Retailer:

ASOS

Most Popular Jeans:

‘Sculpt Me’ High-rise Premium Jean in Nova Dark Mid Wash Blue

My Review:

I’ll admit I was a little trepidatious about this pair because I am not really a skinny jeans person, but when I tried them on, I was pleased to discover they were sort of a cross between skinny and straight (i.e., the legs weren’t skin-tight). I also really liked how they looked in the gluteus maximus region, if you know what I’m saying. I wish they’d been a little less stretchy (I prefer a stiffer jean) and the zipper reached all the way down to the crotch (sorry for saying crotch), but those were my only quibbles, both of which are easily soothed by the fact that these cost a grand total of $56.

Fit: 3/5

Appearance: 3/5

Feel: 3/5


Retailer:

Levi’s

Most Popular Jeans:

501 Stretch Skinny Jean

My Review:

I was surprised that Levi’s bestseller was a pair of skinny jeans instead of one of their more classic straight-leg fits, so my curiosity as to how they would look was considerably piqued. When I pulled them on, I was thrilled to discover they had absolutely no stretch, thus cultivating a vintage-y cowboy aesthetic. Come to think of it, they looked a lot like the jeans my mom wore in the ’80s, which makes them even cooler. In terms of comfort, well, like I said — no stretch. Definitely not a napping ensemble. However, I would gladly stand in them for hours.

Fit: 5/5

Appearance: 5/5

Feel: 4/5


Retailer:

Topshop

Most Popular Jeans:

MOTO Bleach Raw Hem Straight Leg Jeans

My Review:

Topshop does a really nice job of producing classic, straight-leg denim styles at a relatively low price point, and this $75 pair was no exception. Pros: great butt, great length, great leg fit. Cons: Besides the fact that these jeans also perpetrated the aforementioned pesky zipper/crotch pet peeve, I wasn’t a huge fan of how the waist/hip area fit me. It’s hard to explain, but it just didn’t feel like it moved with my body in the best way. But that definitely might just be a “me” thing.

Fit: 3/5

Appearance: 3/5

Feel: 3/5


Retailer:

MATCHESFASHION.com

Most Popular Jeans:

Re/Done Originals Grunge High-Rise Straight-Leg Distressed Jeans

My Review:

I’ve always been intrigued by Re/Done jeans, though I’ve never owned a pair myself since they cost a little more than I’d usually spend on denim. The brand started out altering vintage Levi’s into new pairs and has since expanded to create its own denim line based on bestselling vintage shapes. The first thing that struck me when I tried on this particular pair was how soft they were. THEY WERE SO SOFT. Even though they were high-waist, which I usually equate with some discomfort even though I love the aesthetic, the softness totally made up for it. I could have easily napped in these. I liked how they looked overall, too, but I could have done without the rip at the back of my left knee.

Fit: 5/5

Appearance: 3/5

Feel: 5/5


After tallying up the points, it appears my favorites jeans from among the internet’s favorite jeans are…Levi’s! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the brand that literally invented blue jeans makes the perfect blue jeans. Like I said earlier, though, I’m always hungry for new contenders. Tell me about your favorite pair of jeans and why they rule.

Photos by Edith Young. Chloé boots worn throughout.

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