Finding The Perfect Vintage Wash Straight-Leg Jeans…With Stretch


Well, hey, I’m back trying on more jeans. New year, same me. Currently, I’m looking for the perfect straight leg vintage wash jeans that don’t completely chop into my midsection when I sit down. This may be impossible, you guys. But I’m here to try. I tried and tried the 100% cotton Levi’s, and even took a bath in them like Julieta suggested. And while her method totally worked at breaking them in, they just still aren’t for me. I don’t know if it’s my short waist or my type of mama tummy or the fact that I’m 40, but I just can’t with those jeans. They hurt my pancreas or something. Haha. This particular mama needs a little bit of stretch.

It’s tough to hunt down jeans with the perfect vintage wash AND some stretch. There must be something in spandex that prevents that lovely vintage faded color. I tried three brands here that seemed to offer the best wash with at least some spandex/elastane. Let’s check them out.

Abercrombie Jeans

Abercrombie High Rise Slim Jeans – This was the first pair I tried on. Many of you loved these on Instagram and I agree, they’re good. They’re just a bit slimmer than I was looking for here. They really fit more like a skinny jean with just a bit wider ankle. Cute wash, and I kinda dig the faded ‘seam’ line down the front and back. Super affordable, too. I have another pair of A&F jeans arriving today, so I’ll update the post when they show.

Madewell Jeans

You know Mama loves her vintage wash jeans, but she needs a. bit. more. stretch. We're looking at Abercrombie, Madewell & Mother to find that unicorn denim.

Madewell High Rise Straight Leg Boyjean in Lita Wash – Wearing size 27 Regular. These are the jeans I tried on in my stories (@laurajansenstyle) in Petite length that were hilariously too short. You know I love Madewell jeans, and while these fit well and were pretty comfortable, they weren’t quite the wash I want. The way they look on the site is what I’m looking for. They’re actually bluer and darker in person, as you can see here.

You know Mama loves her vintage wash jeans, but she needs a. bit. more. stretch. We're looking at Abercrombie, Madewell & Mother to find that unicorn denim.

Madewell Cruiser Straight in Cloverdale Selvedge wash – Wearing size 27. I’ve tucked the hems under a bit on the front view because I would chop them off right above my ankle. I love the fit and feel of this pair, but the wash is just kinda funny. There’s some whiskering I don’t care for, and I don’t love the matching destruction on both knees. It doesn’t look natural. I’ll keep an eye out for these in a different wash.

Mother Denim

You know Mama loves her vintage wash jeans, but she needs a. bit. more. stretch. We're looking at Abercrombie, Madewell & Mother to find that unicorn denim.Mother The Tomcat ankle jeans in Gospel Grace – Wearing size 28, size up one size. These are the closest to what I was looking for. I do like them and will try them on again, but today they were a little uncomfy on the stomach. They have some stretch but are thicker than the next pair, so they stretch a bit less. I have them tucked under here and would cut them off a bit more. I LOVE the wash and the simple distressing on these. I love the leg shape. These are a real contender. I almost tried these in this more distressed wash, as well. I’d like to check out the Mother The Rascal Ankle Chew jeans to see if I like that fit, too. But I have a feeling these will still win out due to shape.

You know Mama loves her vintage wash jeans, but she needs a. bit. more. stretch. We're looking at Abercrombie, Madewell & Mother to find that unicorn denim.

Mother The Tripper ankle jeans – These lovely jeans are selling out everywhere. I adore them, but can’t decide whether I could recreate that hem if I cut them off a bit more. The wash here is perfection and they are comfy in the waist, so I’m definitely considering them. They kind of remind me of the perfect faded Seven jeans from the early 2000’s that we all loved. The denim is a bit thinner than The Tomcat jean. I’m wearing a 28 here, too, so size up a size in Mother jeans, IMO. Some reviews say true to size, but I disagree after both of the pairs I’ve tried here. I’m a 27 in Madewell jeans, but a 28 in rag & bone and these, if that helps for your sizing. **UPDATE: most sizes restocked here!

Shop Vintage Straight Leg Jeans


Have you found the jean unicorn out there? Perfect vintage wash PLUS stretch? After trying so many, I think Mother seems to get closest. I’d give Abercrombie a big thumbs up for a more reasonably priced brand. Many brands that look amazing are 100% cotton (like AGOLDE, Current/Elliott), and as I said I wasn’t looking for rigid denim anymore. I did wind up just finding this pair of mid-rise Citizens of Humanity to try out to see if the rise is the problem factor for me when it comes to the rigid denim. I’ll be sure to update you guys on what I find! There are so many more I could try, so you know the search will continue, but do share any great finds, you fellow jean fanatics!



Hop on over to follow me on Instagram @laurajansenstyle (new IG name!) to see more of what I’m up to in Portland, Oregon and how many more pairs of jeans I try on this season. And don’t forget about LikeToKnow.It for easy peasy shopping of the looks I’m loving!


  1. Also short stature, short waisted. Thanks a million for this post! Almost gave up on finding this style with breathing room. Going to try the Mother brand ones.

  2. Some of the stiffer high rise jeans do a weird bunchy thing in the crotch area (I remember this problem from the late 90s…). The Mother jeans are the worst offenders in this series. The Madewell jeans look best on that account.

  3. Try J Crew Outlet or J Crew “Mercantile”… I got a pair of vintage wash jeans there back in December. I think they’re a skinny straight fit but they definitely have stretch. I sized up and they fit exactly how I wanted- not tight.

  4. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been on a similar hunt, for a full year now, and came to the same conclusion about Levi’s (sold mine on Noihsaf). I found two Madewell styles that, while not perfect, are pretty darn close: the classic straight jean (I have the fawn wash, which is not super-destructed; but if you look on Poshmark, some older washes offer a more beaten up look, that is pretty natural; I tried one on, in-store, and loved them); and the high-rise slim boyjean, which has a narrower leg, but definitely not skinny (I have them in the eco edition, which is darker, thicker, and soft but not distressed; I tried a couple of very distressed washes on and loved them; may go back for them). I’m also a 27 (and a 28 in Madewell), also 5’4”, also shortwaisted, and, after three kids, loathe anything that cuts into my midsection, and these fit me perfectly—and are so flattering! Try them!

    • Thank you! I LOVE Madewell! They have the perfect amount of stretch. I think I wanted to venture out from the countless pairs of their jeans I have here, but sounds like maybe ‘if it ain’t broke?’ right. Ha.

  5. The Mother The Tripper ankle jeans are my favorite from your try on’s but these also look darker in your photos then they do on the website – which color is the most true to actual color? Thank you!!

    • hi sure thing! It’s so annoying how different they look. I’d say my photos are closer to the actual color. They seem to lighten most online photos of jeans. So frustrating! Hope my pics help though. I still love the color and it’s more of what I was looking for than a super light wash.

  6. I too have been on this hunt. I have a pair of Levi’s that I put through Juliette’s method, but I still can’t wear them. They kill me. I ended up with the Madewell Perfect Vintage Jean: Comfort Stretch Edition, and I love them. Madewell describes them as tapered leg, but they fit like a straight leg on me. They are by far the best (comfortable and good looking) vintage jeans I have found.

  7. Laura! Julieta has the Mother Tripper jeans and she cropped them and kept the same hem. I feel like such a stalker lol. Anyway she has a guide here on how to do it. Personally I’m Mother the Rascal fan all the way. Rise is great as I’m short waisted too, still look high rise without cutting me in half. I hate that!!! I bought these I love them so much!!!

    • Thank you and YES! I had forgotten that was the exact pair she cropped! I’ll definitely be getting tips from her. I’ll check the Rascals out. I think I have tried them but it’s been a while. Thank you!

  8. Camper, you are the cutest and most subtle of photo bombers, you and your fam are lovely! Also, Laura, thanks for the awesome and informative jean post

  9. I’m so glad you’re doing this work–I am with you that the zero-stretch jeans can be really hard for me to wear. The only pair I’ve worn successfully are American Eagle’s high-waisted girlfriend–no stretch, but a thinner fabric so they didn’t feel quite as constricting as Levi’s I’ve tried. However, most of the time I struggle with super high waists because I’m more rectangle shaped with a wider waist and narrower hips, with my natural waist nipping in much closer to my boobs than my hips. (Pants that actually sit at my natural waist create FUPA every time, guys. Every. Time.) Usually having that much fabric up around the stomach just makes me look larger than I am. A mid or low rise usually works better for me, so I’m very into the notion of seeing some more of those options on this site, too!

  10. I mean, you and Madewell are just the perfect match – both look amazing on you! Just for fun, have you tried Pilcro @ Anthro?

  11. I have a pair of the Citizen Emerson’s that I thrifted (different wash) and I love them. Citizens have the best back pocket placement. However, they run big in the waist on me, and it’s not like my waist is particularly small. I wear them with a D-ring belt or they are too saggy. I’d say them are a “slim boyfriend” in the legs but more a true boyfriend in the waist/booty.

  12. Thank you for doing this diligent research to find the Holy Grail of “vintage jeans with some stretch.” I have bought and returned severals pairs because of weird sizing, fit, or wash. And I am 5’8 with slim hips. We all struggle. I have kept the AG Isabella ultra High Rise from Anthropology, the slim BF from Madewell, a surprisingly great pair I found on sale at Loft. and a pair of girlfriends jeans from the Gap. Those Levi wedgies are a torture device. I am SOOO tempted by these Mother jeans you speak of. Your work is much appreciated.

  13. I love the fit of JCrew vintage straight high waist jeans. Like you my stomach hurts if there isn’t stretch. Sometimes these bother me if I eat a large meal but thinking that might be unavoidable.

  14. “They hurt my pancreas or something.” I’m dying! I totally feel your pain! I have a pair of AG Stevie Ankle jeans that are super comfortable and fit like this. I love them. I am still working on my Levi’s because I love the look, but the comfort is…meh. I did just order one of the Abercrombie pairs linked here, though because they look so cute. And they’re marked down to $19.98!!!

  15. Love this post. Been looking for the exact same thing. What size are you wearing in the Abercrombie slim straight? I usually wear a 27 in the regular Simone skinny. Wondering if I would need the same in the slim.

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