All I’m interested in looking at right now are jeans in dark washes, with little or no whiskering, fading, or distressing. A tiny little bit of that stuff is OK. Good even, because it gives jeans character, and can even cause a pair to be more flattering. But too much of it—and there is so so much of it out there—is way overdone. There are few things I think a person necessarily has to age out of, but super worn-in-looking jeans is for the kids, I really believe. This pair from AG has a nice straight cut, and such a clean wash you could wear it to work, just about.
This high-waisted dark-grey pair from Topshop has a lot of slouch appeal.
A very all-American choice, from Madewell.
Universal Standard makes the best jeans in extended sizes, and I’m having a tough time finding others I like as well. Thoughts, ladies?
These cropped jeans are nice and neat-looking, and I like that the waist is high, but not too high.
These Levi’s are just a good kick-around-on-the-weekends option.
A nice inky-dark take with a step hem, from Mother.
Everlane’s boyfriend jean in pitch black is another one I’d consider for the office.
This pair, from J. Crew, has the just-right amount of whiskering—which is to say, very little.
A very excellently 70s mom option.
A well-priced pair of boyfriend jeans.
If you’re looking for something black and skinny, you could do worse than these.
Nili Lotan’s boyfriend jean has a nice, trouser-ish cut.
Everlane’s High-Rise skinny jean has such a good dark indigo wash. They remind me of APC.
I like Veronica Beard’s line, and so I’m curious about her jeans. These have a pleasingly saturated wash, and a not-distracting amount of whiskering.
Here’s a post I did a little while back on boyfriend jeans.
Thanks for this post. I’ve been on a months-long hunt for a pair of REGULAR jeans and it’s next-to-impossible to find. Why must we have so many shenanigans – holes and bleach and distressing? The holy grail is still out there, but this gives me some new places to search.
I always love Rag + Bone jeans – their classic Skinny is so comfortable, yet not skin tight, and they have them in a higher (10 inch) rise too. The Drew is a really nice boyfriend fit, size down if you want them less baggy. Right now, a dark flared cropped jeans from Frame is one of my faves (a great sales find, at 70% off).
I’ve had really good luck with Rag and Bone as well. The Dre cut fits me best.
Rag and Bone jeans. Something new to consider.
I do have a pair…a slightly cropped pair that Kim posted about a couple of years ago! You’re right, they are good. And they are dark wash.
(GOACA aging issues and forgetting what is in the closet.)
Rag and Bone make the best jeans for my bod, hands down.
Do you mean The Dre? (Autocorrect, I know!)
First of all THANK YOU for this post. I am so bloody tired of whiskering!!!
Second, the Everlane jeans that I have are cut well, have no whiskering, but also no elastasane (or whatever that word is) ergo no give. It’s like wearing jeans in the 1960’s where you had to wear them awhile before they were comfortable. I can live with that, some can’t––which I totally respect. AND, disclaimer, I don’t know if ALL Everlane jeans are like this or just the cut I purchased.
I love a nice dark jean as well & couldn’t find what I wanted at a price point & fit
So I made a pair. Yes it took a few minutes but I did it & I’m going to make a few more.
wow X2. You are a superhero.
Ok I lied. Not intentionally. I ordered 2 pr from Everlane and sent back the ones without stretch. The ones I have do have a little bit of stretch and no whispering and fit fine.
Lesson learned? Don’t listen to me before I finish my coffee.
I totally get it.
I’m interested in your Everlane jean experience. I’ve purchased Everlane pants and found their sizing to be unorthodox. The skinny jean suggests sizing up, yet I find their pants run large. What do you think?
I may be in the minority here, but I include unfinished hems as among the “too-worn-out type” type of jeans I feel I’ve aged out of. I’m ready for that trend to die.
That trend is the worst! It has been my personal grievance with Madewell for the last year, and I think it’s the dumbest jeans trend out there right now. Can people really not cut the hems off their own jeans if they want this look? I’m 5’1, so this has always been an option for me, but one that I’ve never taken because it is dumb. And I can KIND OF see how it might appeal to some as a casual summer look, but why is this a thing in the winter? It makes no sense, and for the last year, most of the non-skinny jean options have had messed up hems. I hate it. It pisses me off.
I actually don’t mind the fraying hem look … but I don’t like the way they are doing it now, with the levels and without much actual fray.
But really I wanted to agree with what you said — people can do this *themselves* so why do they have to do it to almost *every pair* it’s frustrating. Can’t we have a choice?
I actually love this trend because I’m short and I DO do it myself without it looking weird (at least for the moment).
I am so glad you said this. I feel exactly the same way!
Thanks for the reminder to try the new Curvy high rise denim from Madewell.
My favorite pair from Madewell, of late, is the 11-inch high rise, slim Boyjean.
I think that’s what I have. They suck everything in and raise it up high. I went from a 32B to a 38DD.
I bought those and loved the look but ended up selling them because 11″ is too much rise for my short-waisted self. I felt like I was being cut in half every time I sat down. I might try their regular rise Boyjean, though.
I just bought my first pair of NYDJ @ Nordstrom this week and I am officially a big fan. Dark wash, zip ankle, stretch skinny.
I freakin’ hate the cut off bottoms. I could just do this to any pair of jeans that I have at home, why would I want to spend 300 dollars for it? Especially when it’s a trend that’s going to be over soon?
Now that my rant is over, I have the Jcrew jeans and I love them. Also second the opinion on the Everlane. And I love that non stretch is coming back in
J. Crew was always my go to – I particularly like the straight leg (was called Matchstick at one point). At the moment, almost all their jeans are distressed in some way. I don’t know if this is a symptom of the issues there, but it’s a headache.
I KNEW I’m not the only one who is tired of the fake distressing! Let’s face it–nobody’s jeans actually wear out at the knees after age 10. Honest distressing would have holes in the inseam at upper thigh.
I have a pair of US jeans–mine are high waist (really high, actually all the way AROUND my waist, without dipping down in the back), very dark wash, no distressing. They do have some stretch, but not too much and it’s a really strong stretch (is that a thing?). Their sizes start at 10, but the jeans run about a size big.
Yes, “strong stretch” is a thing … a most sought-after thing … *if* what you mean is, they stretch but they don’t sag in the fanny.
Has that been your experience? And have you washed them already? Bc the non-sag thing is hard to find, ime.
I have washed them once, I think, (but air dried). No bagging, even after wearing multiple times. I washed them not to restore shape, but because I spilled something on them. I’m most happy with them–so sick of other jeans that i have to hitch up after sitting!
Oh @dkl, I wish it were true that no one wore out knees after age 10 but I do. The right knee first, followed a few months later by the left. I do have pointy knees. That said, I do not need the knees of my jeans pre-worn because I am very capable of wearing out those knees all on my own.
My current favorites are all Madewell — the high rise slim boyfriend mentioned earlier in this thread as well as the 100% cotton Cruiser Straight style.
I can’t get over my hatred of high-waisted jeans. Does anyone know of a pair of jeans that are high enough to be hip but still cheat towards at least mid-rise? Thanks. 🙂
And thanks again Kim for the forum.
Right there with you. I lived through high-waisted jeans the first time around, and will never, ever be ok with their return.
From what I’ve seen and tried on, current jeans described as “high waist” are nowhere near the old high waist, which had waistbands that were WELL above (2″?) the belly button. My new Levi’s (supposedly high waist) come to about an inch below my belly button. None of that “long butt” stuff here.
Yes, having lived through the 80s, I resisted high waisted jeans at all cost. But recently bought a pair, and it doesn’t make me look like i have a long butt!
Great round-up Kim…
I have a couple pairs of Levi’s 501 CT (which stands for custom tapered apparently) button fly which are more of a mid rise. They have a good weight to them and I think they’re really flattering flattering!
Love, love, love your posts. Any advice for petite ladies? I love AG, but they are LONG and don’t always look the same when hemmed. And why do companies make jeans without stretch in this day and age?! Looking at you, Everlane.
There’s a pretty good selection for petites on Anthropologie: https://rstyle.me/n/cye334z5c6
Not petite overall but my inseam is 28″ so I look for ankle length jeans (no need to get them hemmed). I’ve had great luck with Current/Elliott Stiletto skinny jeans, the typical 28″ inseam is perfect for my shorter legs and it has just enough stretch. I just bought a high waisted pair at Nordstrom Rack and I ordered two sizes of the same jean and went with the smaller size. So glad I did that, the fit is amazing.
Have you tried the Paige? Denim heaven. The Ankle Verdugo is my ride or die.
And here’s a comprehensive list:
I love Paige and I’m tall. It’s the stretch…comfort!
Madewell now offers petite denim.
The AG Stevie ankle length is my go to for shorter length in legs. Anthropologie carries them.
For plus size jeans, Old Navy has a LOT of options. When I was fluctuating in size, I bought jeans there because they were inexpensive. And there are several styles that are in dark blue or black washes. Also, Kut from the Kloth has extended sizing and looks interesting. I just bought black jeans from Universal Standard and love them, too.
I was just coming here to mention Old Navy and Kut From the Cloth. Kate, you are my denim sister! I’m consistently impressed by the fit and styling of KFTK in particular. I’ve had 5 or 6 pairs from them and each one is a winner. My very favorites are the ones with between 5 and 10% stretch.
How do the Kut Kate fit differ from the Catherine? They are both labeled boyfriend. Just curious.
I have three pair of Old Navy mid-rise Rockstar skinny jeans, and I love them so so much. BUT Old Navy has stopped making them! They only have super-skinny now, which are horrible and uncomfortable and just the worst. I actually wrote their corporate office to ask them to please please bring them back, but no luck yet.
I was also just about to laud Old Navy. But- they have jeans I love one season/year and then a dry year with nothing that works. Right now I’m wearing some not-gigantic boyfriend jeans in a charcoal from two years ago-thankfully we still fit each other. Will look for KFTK.
Yep, Old Navy jeans have served me well, especially any of their high-rise cuts. (Long torso and a substantial butt means that high-rises keep me covered, which I prefer.)
Second the vote for Kut from the Kloth. I’m size 16 and they are good quality, a nice range of cuts and washes, and wear well. Reasonable prices too.
I’m also really loving Lane Bryant’s new Super Skinny Stretch jeans (or maybe it’s Super Stretch Skinny) because they DON”T BAG OUT (I once wore the same pair 5 days straight) and are 90% as comfortable as leggings. I normally hate skinny jeans but these have been life-changing!!!
Add me to the list of Kut from the Kloth fans. I’m size 16 and 5’11” and have had luck with their jeans. Their regular length tends to be on the longer side which is awesome for me. It’s really tough finding tall length jeans in my size that aren’t distressed. I also have had good luck with Old Navy jeans.
Thank you!!! I have ordered and sent back EVERY pair of jeans I’ve tried for months because of whiskering, fit issues. Jeans are really hard to get right!
My personal annoyance is too much stretch in jeans — they bag out by the end of the day in a way that is just really unflattering on me. I want a high-waisted, very minimal stretch, dark jean with some nice 70s style pocket placement / butt support. Any suggestions?
Yes! There should be a law. (not really)
I was really disappointed in the pair of black cropped Everlane jeans I bought a couple months ago. The fit is very baggy in the crotch and knees, and it’s not because I ordered too large a size. The fit is just off for me.
I went to the store in SF and tried all their jeans on and was really disappointed, looks so good in photos but really cheap / badly cut in person.
I don’t get the Everlane love at all, what’s the difference between them and say COS or Zara? All their clothes are made in third world countries as opposed to the US so I don’t get why they get to be considered an ethical business either, just because they are “transparent” about going to places with weak labor laws and low wages?!
Everlane is very hit and miss, for sure.
You bring up an excellent point. I think it’s difficult to break the fast fashion cycle, especially if you’re a young woman or a working woman who can’t or doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on clothing. Everlane just tries to make everyone feel better about it, I guess.
I grew up hearing stories of my grandmother and grandfather going to tailors in NYC to have their things made—a handful of nice suits and dresses and shirts every couple seasons. They saved up for it. Coats were purchased once and lasted a lifetime. My grandmother sewed or knit everything else. Can you imagine doing that today?
My favorite jean for the past year have been a dark wash Gap girlfriend jean. They are a bit cropped, have zero details and are perfect!
I was just looking at those in the Talls!
They are so versatile and comfy! Dressed up or down. And I have to say that as I have put on a few pounds this winter, they have just enough give to still fit even if I have probably gone up a whole size. Ugh.
Can I rant about sizes for a minute? can we please all just switch to inch measurements? These “size conversion” charts are utterly useless. How hard is it to measure a flat piece of clothing (in at least the waist and hip, if possible)?
Maybe they don’t do it because they think we can’t handle the truth. But really, it wastes our time. Lots and lots of our time. (or we just don’t bother)
I am totally on the AG train. They’re great for anyone tall with not-scrawny thighs, and they last forever, and are worth every dime imho. I also have a pair of straight leg, midrise from Madewell that I wear a lot.
I have the US Seine jeans. They fit me really well in the waist AND the hips (so rare!) and run about a size big. They are actually slightly largein the tush, even, which never happens.
That said, ny thighs are really sensitive and don’t react well the the relatively high polyester content. It’s not a dealbreaker, but these are not summer jeans. And sometime the high waist pinches a bit. But, on the whole, I’m pleased and would buy a second pair if the need arose.
The other plus size jeans I like are from Junarose, which is Danish, I think, and available from ASOS and Lord & Taylor and in limited styles from other places around the web if you google. I think they also run a size large.
“I may not know much about men, but shoes…shoes I know,” Carrie Bradshaw.
I own 70+ pair of jeans. So, this, this I know. Or at the very least, have strong opinions. I look forward to the debate!
Whiskering, even slight whiskering, is far more flattering than one block of color.
Personally, I like a little distressing, but realistic in terms of location. Meaning, distressing far above or far below the knee look silly.
Always check the fabric content. 95% cotton or more will wear better and keep it’s shape far longer.
No one seems to check their backside anymore! 11 inch rises – while they’ll girdle you in – look like drive-in movie screens in the back. If you like it, great. But please check!
If you’re over age 20, Mom jeans (hideous imo) require effort to look cool and on purpose. Hence the need for heels, not flats or sneakers.
I’m a big fan of Current Elliot (TTS), Hudson cropped flares (their fabric content is on the money), TopShop Jaimes (go up a size), Madewell’s 9″ skinnies (go down a size, maybe even two), Levi’s 711s (TTS, and they have great washes), IRO (go down a size) and Mother (TTS)with great washes too and MiH for flares.
Those Madewell 9″ skinnies are my life right now, though I’ve been eyeing the Levi’s 711. Also, I love this delicious comment. So much denim! So little time!!
I will cop to loving all the denim, all the ways, all the rips or very tidy looking.
I did buy the Levi Wedgie Icon in hot pursuit of what I imagined would be the “cool girl look” that permeates so much of social media. Man. They felt like sandpaper. Then I noticed SOME of the washes have stretch. Since I’ve had flares on the brain for 2 months, I will check out your recommendation. Thank you!
I have started avoiding any brands with polyester – it’s just not comfortable and the fabric never lasts. Jeans are supposed to be cotton.
Love the Everlane denim heft and feel, but ugh the fit. Sent back so many pairs. Baggy thighs no matter the waist size on the mid-rise skinny. Wah.
Thanks for the comment! As I carry most of my weight in my hips/thighs, it’s always a pain to find great fitting jeans. Sounds like the Everlane may work for me.
I really like Imogene and Willie!
I have saddlebags and bigger thighs. The brands that work best on me are JAG and Kut from the Cloth. Some Paige and Top Shop jeans work. I never ran into a pair of NYDJ that fit me.
Any other suggestions?
For extended sizes: I’ve had good success with Eileen Fisher jeans, although I think the denim they’ve been using in recent years is a little thinner and doesn’t last as long. Still worth checking out. I also bought a pair of Slink jeans from Nordstrom Rack this summer and I’ve been really impressed with both the fit and the durability and would definitely buy more. Levi’s does sell extended sizes but they run rather small.
Incidentally, I can’t remember the last time I was able to buy jeans off the rack and wear them right away without having to have them altered – things that fit my hips are then way too wide in the leg. I do my alterations myself, but don’t forget your local tailor can do wonders with making something fit like it was made for you!
Plus-sized, live in land of casual (LA), work in creative field, so I’m all jeans, all the time.
Since no one’s mentioned Warp and Weft, I will! I’m pretty happy with the JFK skinny:
Also like Slink, though the sizing isn’t as consistent as I’d like (I have two pairs of the same style/cut, and one pair is perfect…the other, not so much).
James Jeans has been doing plus for a while, and those fit me (wide hips, booty) really well, though I wish they did more styles.
Frankly, I’m over skinny jeans, but I really struggle to find plus jeans that I like that aren’t skinny or boyfriend cut.
Haven’t tried but curious about AYR and Wrangler at Modcloth. Generally like the idea of Lucky Brand jeans, but HATE their back pocket detailing. I will take distressing over pocket crap!
You’re the first person to mention back pocket details. It can be a deal breaker for me. Leave those pockets plain, please.
Oh god, the pocket crap. Why do they think we are 12 yr old girls who want shiny stuff on our butts?
I’d love to know why Acne didn’t make the cut. I notice many of the pairs you’re recommending here have a ton of stretch, which always leaves me really annoyed several hours into wearing them. I love that Acne jeans tend to have no more than 2-3% elastane and truly never stretch out, even after days and days of wear. I loved the Skin 5 cut, and now the new Peg cut and also the Climb cut. I think you would likely really like the used black color or indigo. I literally own five pairs of their jeans, and that’s it.
I love universal standard jeans. Probably more stretch (esp in the black) than most commenters here would like, but very straightforward washes, plus a high waist that is actually quite flattering. I say this as someone who has no actual waist to speak of and spent years and years unfastening jeans so I could sit in them.
I meant Industry Standard.
This is totally not related to your awesome jeans post, but I saw this and thought of you.
I originally saw it as a sticker on someone’s laptop and immediately wanted to adopt it as my mantra.
Picky, but in a good way. I’m pretty happy with my Madewell jeans. AND, Madewell, J Crew, PAIGE and some premium denim lines are doing slightly larger sizes…33, 34, 35.
My favorite extended size jeans are from Paige. here is my most recent pair in a 34, but I also used to be able to get them in a regular denim wash:
This works so well for my body type (thinner legs, straight hip to waist ratio and big boobs) that I use them as a pattern to alter less expensive pants, like chinos from Target.
Note to Madewell and others; please make bigger sizes! We don’t need special fabrics and years of research. Just make the jeans you already make, but bigger.
Oops, meant to call out Everlane for not making larger sizes. Carry on.
Brilliant idea, Robin!
I guess I’m in the minority, because I still love distressed jeans with random holes. The more beat up, the better. Even though I’m in my 50s… As long as the rest of my outfit is tailored that is my go to look. And with numerous teenage daughters, they would tell me if I look ridiculous or not age appropriate.
Go to brands for tailored or beat up are AG, Paige, DL1961 (great for curves), Frame and Current/Elliott.
If it feels good, wear it!👖😀
One of my very good friends, who is in her late 40s, wears distressed jeans and always looks cool and chic in them. She finally convinced me to give a pair a go and I wasn’t . . . horrified at myself, LOL.
I’m a freelancer who works out of the house so I spend about 90 percent of my life in jeans. I’ve tried so many brands l can’t even count, and still lament the high quality, cool jeans Gap used to put out (although I hear that their Girlfriend is the bomb). About ten years ago I discovered the perfect low rise, slightly cropped skinny fit in a pair of dark wash Korals, which unfortunately seem to be out of business. Then I discovered Rag and Bone. I’ll flirt with other brands on occasion (I like Mother’s gray washes), but I mostly stick to the RnB medium rise dark wash skinny, which manages to make my legs look long and lean, and not like little sausages. Look great with flats, heels, boots, whatever. Really brilliant. Spendy if you pay retail, but not if you buy on sale or second hand.
Rag & Bone are a new discovery. They fit great, when you find the right cut (as with any clothing item). Have you found their sizing a bit wonky? Depending on the style, my size varies from 28, 29 and 30.
Yes, but I’ve found that with just about all jeans. Which is crazy-making! I have two pairs of RnB in a 29 (skinnies), one in a 30 (slight boyfriend cut).
Need a giggle? Follow @tragicdenim on Instagram!
Very fun! Followed!
Plus size jeans are tough, and even good brands have a maddening habit of changing sizing criteria way too often. One website I found that had a wide variety is called SLINK. Beware, there are some truly hideous jeans and everything is modeled with high heels – but there is a huge selection in terms of cuts and fabric treatments.