Frame Le Garcon jeans | size 29, 25% off at Saks
Madewell White button-front top | size small
Rag & Bone Quinn sandals | true to size, 25% off at Saks & the Dreslyn right now!
Dannijo necklace | old, n/a
3.1 Phillip Lim large ryder satchel | embossed version 25% off at Azalea with code GRECHEN25
Back when premium denim first came out in the late 90’s, early 2000’s I was ambivalent. Mostly because I didn’t fit into any of the brands like 7 for all mankind, CoH, Frankies, etc., because they were ABSOLUTELY not meant for my small waist in proportion to my larger hips/thighs/calves. I did have some AG legends (the flares, remember?) and the Angel jeans, but they were just over $100 (still, a lot to pay for jeans back then). I didn’t hit the $200 mark until I tried on a pair of Goldsign jeans at a local denim bar that were nearly $300 at the time, and just about DIED over them. And the rest, as they say, is history.
No, not really, although in the case of denim, I do believe that once you’ve tried “the perfect” pair, it’s hard to go back to not-so-perfect. Which is not to say that you have to spend more than $200 for a great (or perfect) pair of jeans, you just have to know where and when to shop for them.
I actually rarely pay more than $200 for jeans, I think this pair of Frame Le Garcon jeans is the first in quite some time – maybe since my Goldsigns in 2005. I tried these on at Steven Alan and literally gasped: everything worked, and I especially loved the lighter wash. For me an amazing pair of jeans is like a safety net, or my favorite cashmere blanket: I can put them on and know I’ll look great and feel good, and I can’t put too high a price on that. Well, yes, I can, but it’s not $200…
Here’s why I DO spend more than $200:
It is SO HARD for me to find jeans that fit. I know, it’s hard for all of us, but I think I have the largest calves on the planet, so it’s rare for me to find jeans that fit them, and look good. When I do, I buy. For me, good jeans have to have the perfect combination of fitting around my small waist, and also in the hips/thighs/calves. And lately, the style that works the best is the new “girlfriend” style, or the slim boyfriend. Every time I look for a new pair of jeans I try the Gap and Old Navy, even Zara and H&M, but always leave empty-handed unless I’m looking for a quick fix. I’ve owned lots of Gap jeans over the years, and have always been disappointed with the way they stretch out, and loose their fit over time. And I’ve never been able to find jeans anywhere else that even fit my calves. Yeah, they’re THAT BIG.
I still have quite a few pairs of jeans, including that first pair of Goldsign “Desire” jeans I bought nearly 10 years ago (I just can’t part with them). But I guess I get a new pair once a year so stay “current” with the styles. Most of my jeans are pretty dated, and feel old, in terms of both style and wash, so I don’t wear them anymore. Now that designers are making denim more uniform (dark washes, not so much fading on the thighs/butt), the styles will have more longevity, but remember all the crazy fading and washes 10 years ago?? Yeah…some weren’t so great…
There’s definitely a difference in the feel of higher-end denim than jeans from Target, Gap or Old Navy. I wouldn’t say that super-soft or perfectly stretchy denim is ever THE MAIN reason I purchase a pair of jeans, but it definitely helps. Still, the softest pair of jeans I ever owned was a pair of Current/Elliot boyfriend jeans that I got via Gilt or Rue La La for less than $100. They got too big on me so I sold them, but it was insane how soft they were. And my Frame jeans are no joke either…
Premium denim companies work very hard to get just the right amount of stretch in their jeans and you can tell. I generally prefer more cotton – at least 90%, if not 98%, and less spandex (more polyester) – but if you like jeans that really form to your body and don’t loose their shape, premium denim is a must. And they don’t have to me more than $200, either, or even more than $100 – my !iT collective jeans they sent me for review are wonderful; they fit nicely and retail for less than $100. I just don’t wear skinny styles very often, so they’re not in heavy rotation.
Made in the US
Style and fit are definitely most important to me when choosing denim, but very close is where they’re made. Nearly all the premium denim companies make their jeans in the US, because, hello, I’m pretty sure we INVENTED jeans. But it does make them a little more expensive than jeans from the Gap, etc. It is important to me to buy things produced as close to home as possible, so when I have a choice, I will definitely choose to buy made in the US.
After all this, I do not think that everyone needs to spend more than $200 on jeans. If you can afford it, and you will wear them often, then, yes, spend that much, but it’s not necessary. With all the friends & family events going on now, it’s impossible not to find a great pair of premium denim for less than $200, and I’ve gotten a lot of great jeans from sample sale sites, specifically Gilt and Rue La La, for way under $100.
Right now though, the Outnet is my favorite place to look for denim under $100. You have the best chance of finding your size when they’re “just in” though, so check daily. But they have a great selection of premium denim and it’s usually at around or under $100 (I featured some of my favorites at the Outnet below…)
The key to buying denim online is to try on in a store first. TRY EVERYTHING ON. I’m not joking. If you haven’t tried on new premium denim before, you need to go to a large department store and try on as many styles and brands that you can to determine which ones fit YOUR body the best. It’ll take all day, but it will be worth it. Once you know what brands and styles you like, you can look for them on sale, wait for them to show up on Gilt, or stalk them on eBay. Do yourself a favor though, go in the morning after some SERIOUS butt-kicking exercise and a very light breakfast so you feel good and empowered, because shopping for jeans can be VERY deflating on even the best day. So at least start in a good mood, because it can go downhill fast!! I promise you’ll find something wonderful though, if I can, you can…
So…what are your thoughts on premium denim? What’s the most you’ve spent on jeans? What’s your favorite brand? style? How long have you had your oldest pair? Did I convince you to try anything new?