Finding The Best Dad Jean: A Try-On Adventure

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2020 is doing something to our collective fashion consciousness. Scotti is back in leggings and UGG boots with a vengeance I both admire, and, after hearing her rave about the warmth and comfort, frankly, would like to emulate. (Chestnut, maybe?)

And if I look back over most of 2020, there’s really only one pair of jeans I’ve reached for over and over again: my beloved Levi’s 501s.

I’ve been thinking of my Levi’s 501s as high-rise boyfriend jeans: they’re comfy, they’re slouchy, the leg is wide, easy and basically straight all the way down. They are the jeans I actually do wear at home. They are, in fact — if I must put a fashion label on it — dad jeans.

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

similar hoodie** | levis** (27) – low sizes, try these 501s for a similar wash | birkenstocks – more colors here

**sustainable

A Dad Jeans Mini-Review (& Which Shoes To Wear)

Once I had that realization (“my favorite jeans are basically dad jeans??”) I decided to branch out, and try on more dad jeans, to see if I was really committed to this trend, or if the Levi’s 501s were just a one-off, a glorious fluke.

So…I rounded up several pairs that caught my eye and got to work.

The first problem? I can’t decide if this crop of dad jeans looks better awkwardly cropped (like my Levi’s 501s) or full length? Maybe either one works?

The question then, if I’m messing around with length, becomes WHAT SHOES?

And that, of course, is always the hardest part. So I pulled out three pair of shoes that have featured strongly in my 2020 routine: Birkenstocks*, sneakers, and a lug-sole, walkable bootie.

*Because, to quote Emily, what is one polarizing trend without another?

1. Topshop Sofia Ripped High-Waist Dad Jeans

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

tee (sm) | jeans (26) – different lengths available here

I’m all about that peek of upper thigh in these Topshop dad jeans. They’re not a stretchy jean, yet the 100% cotton is fairly soft and comfortable out of the box, not overly stiff like many other rigid jeans. The denim is the kind that breaks in nicely.

The ‘dad jean’ vibe realllllly comes through on the side view, I think. The pockets, maybe? (Hi, Dad).

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

My first inclination was to hack these jeans off with scissors…but I’m kinda loving the longer length with the boots. But in order to make the longer length work with Birkenstocks and sneakers…I played around with a big cuff. I think it works??

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

Top: similar cashmere sweater – size up! | jeans (26) – longer lengths here | boots

Bottom: tee (sm) | jeans (26) – longer lengths here | birkenstocks (also here) | sneakers

2. Topshop Ripped Dad Jeans

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

tee (sm) | jeans (26) – longer lengths available

Next up are another pair of Topshop jeans. These ran a bit shorter than the Sofias (even though they’re both listed as 30″ length), and have a similar denim feel to the Sophias: decently soft and forgiving, but will get better with wear. They’re also 100% cotton. I love the mid-blue wash and knee distressing.

Again, I’m tempted to leave the length as-is, although cutting a few inches off for a cropped jean look would also work. These jeans do come in both 30″ length (what I’m wearing) and 32″ length.

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

Top: similar cashmere sweater – size up! | jeans (26) | boots

Bottom: tee (sm) | jeans (26) | birkenstocks (also here) | sneakers

3. Madewell The Dad Jeans

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

tee (sm) | jeans (25)

Like the Topshop jeans, Madewell’s Dad Jeans aren’t stretchy either. But these do have a tiny bit of give, thanks to the 1% polyurethane (the rest is 99% cotton). They run a full size bigger, too, so size down one size.

Madewell’s Dad jeans are the shortest of the bunch, with a 29″ inseam. Again, the typical way to wear dad jeans is cropped — ideally 3-4″ shorter than where these hit on me. While I can pull off a 30″ inseam as full-length (like the previously mentioned Topshop jeans), at 29″, I would have to either cuff or hack Madewell’s Dad jeans off with scissors.

Levi's 501s are GOOD...so we're trying other straight-leg dad jeans. Topshop? Madewell? And then...what shoes? Birks, sneakers or booties?

Top: similar cashmere sweater – size up! | jeans (25) | boots

Bottom: tee (sm) | jeans (25) | birkenstocks (also here) | sneakers

The Best Dad Jeans Verdict?

Which ones am I keeping? Besides my beloved Levi 501s? Truth be told…I’m not yet sure. I’m really loving the longer length of the Topshop Sofias, although the shorter pairs do look better with sneakers and Birkenstocks. I think I need to play around with that cuff a bit more, and see if I can make it work.

Shop Dad Jeans (Including Levi’s 501s & Dad Jeans For Tall Girls)

If you are interested in taking the dad jeans plunge, I rounded up all of the pairs I can personally recommend. Again, dad jeans are designed to feel roomy through the hips, butt and legs, which is one key difference with other straight-leg jean styles. I tried to note which pairs of dad Jeans come in longer inseam lengths, as well.

Thoughts?

xo,

S

This one’s for the pinners…

6 COMMENTS

  1. I used to hate jeans growing up. I think it was because they were rigid. Cautiously curious to try this go-around, but in general I think I’ll stick with stretchier fabrics. Thanks for the dad jean styling–figuring out how they work is always the key!

  2. My favorite jeans in this cut (not distressed) are the Athleta straight leg jeans. I always hesitate to tuck in a graphic tee on the assumption that it would bother me that the graphic was tucked in. But it looks fine on Shana, so maybe I need to try it?

  3. I can’t quite make up my mind on the dad Jean look yet. I do love how they look with a big cuff and sneakers, but I wear pretty much all of my jeans with a big cuff, so it’s not much of a surprise. I will say the fact that they make Shana’s bum (which, without making this weird 🤞, is pretty frickin amazing) look non-existent, does not bode well for my less than stellar bottom. There’s something about them that just looks cool, though.

  4. i would stick with the 501s (luxor), they look awesome on you, and i have them, so i know how comfortable they are!! And they look so cute with your hoodie and vote T! but my favorite shoes of those you tried are the sandals or sneakers with the rolled cuff.

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