I Like Jeans Again. These Pairs Are Why.

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For the last several years, denim trends have been…confusing? Annoying? Both?

In any case, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt like a successful denim shopper. Typically, I’ll order a bunch of jeans and – nope – they’ll all go back. And given this job, I’m ordering jeans a lot. We don’t always talk about the behind-the-scenes here, but there’s so much inventory on the market that publishing what didn’t work seems like a waste of everyone’s time. To give an idea, on average, I’m putting in big jean orders 1-2 times per month, year round. And yeah – most never make it into an article.

So color me shocked when my last big denim order resulted in…complete success. Like, 100%, I loved-every-last-pair, what is even happening kind of success. I haven’t been this happy with a denim order in at least(!!) 20 years. It was so serendipitously successful that it actually prompted a little sartorial soul-searching.

Why were these pairs all a freaking win??

The best wide-leg jeans

The Vintage-Inspired Wash | The Featherweight That Looks Like Rigid But Isn’t | The Longest Inseam | Under $100 | The Not-Boring Dark Wash

It came down, I think, to four things:

How To Easily Win At Denim in 2024

  1. Don’t *start* with baggy or barrel jeans. Don’t get me wrong!! I think barrel jeans (and/or baggy jeans, closely related) are THE most exciting things to happen to jeans in a looooong time. I stand by, unwavering, in my love and devotion of baggy & barrel jeans, especially in 2024. But these styles of jeans aren’t necessarily easy. The silhouette can feel jarring after years of sleek & sexy denim, and the outfit proportions are very different. That said, these jeans are totally worth the time & effort. If you care, I have two exact pairs I recommend in both the baggy & barrel jeans category (Barrel, Baggy), and we published an article on how to style. But if you’re looking for an easy denim win…these ain’t that.
  2. Try the most trend-proof cut: the wide-leg jean. While straight-leg jeans can be affected dramatically by trends (low-rise? high-rise? skinny-straight? boyfriend-straight? wider?), and flare jeans are such a dramatic lewk, a wide-leg jean is the most classic of them all. Whether high, mid, or low rise, this jean reads almost like a trouser and never goes out of style. Which basically means that it’s easy on the eyes. We’ve seen these silhouettes before – there’s nothing jarring. And while I don’t necessarily care about how flattering a jean is (my personal metric is ‘does it look cool’), it’s worth pointing out that wide-leg jeans do tend to lengthen the leg.
  3. Don’t be afraid to go up a size (or two). Like it or not, the baggy jean trend has been seeping into our collective consciousness, and really skintight jeans are starting to look a little dated. I still like my jeans to fit, but I found that jeans with some ease look more current (and are definitely more comfortable, too).
  4. Look for a really good wash (hint: not uniform). All of the jeans in my order had some sort of interesting wash. While I ordered both dark and light washes, none of them were solidly any one color. There was whiskering, fading, subtle striations in the fabric. Wash makes a huge difference.

My Most Successful Denim Try-On In At Least 20 Years

Here are the jeans I ordered, the pairs so freaking good – all of them!! – that I almost felt like I was being punk’d (in a good way). These jeans were all just comfortable classics, perfectly executed and not-boring.

About me: Just for reference purposes, I’m just under 5’3″, weigh anywhere from 122-130 lbs, and typically wear a size 27 in jeans.

1. For Vintage-Inspired Washes & Fit: Veronica Beard Taylor Wide-Leg Jeans

veronica beard taylor jeans review

tee (s), c/o | jeans (29) | boots

The Jeans: Veronica Beard Taylor Jeans in ‘Bright Lakeshore’. (Also at Nordstrom.)

The Details: 32″ inseam, 100% cotton, I’m wearing a size 29 (two sizes up). I have a few pair of Veronica Beard Taylor jeans, and they always tend to run small. That said, in the past, I’ve gone with size 28 in this style. However, I really like the additional ease that sizing up two sizes allowed.

veronica beard high-rise flares, vintage wash, with sezane tee & sorel boots

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (29) | boots

What’s special about these jeans? First of all, the fit of the waistband is my favorite. They’re high-rise jeans, but have always read more ‘trouser’ which gives them a ’70s vibe that other high-rise jeans just miss. The wash of this particular pair is a perfectly faded, vintage blue-jean-blue and the contrast yellow stitching just adds to the overall vintage vibe.

I also ordered these exact jeans in a dark wash (‘rodeo clean’), just to see, and they’re also fantastic. Veronica Beard kills it in the almost-vintage wash game. And again, I went up two sizes.

dark wash trouser jeans

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (29) | boots

Shop Veronica Beard Taylor Jeans


2. For A Rigid Look, Soft Feel: rag&bone Logan Featherweight Wide-Leg Jeans

rag&bone featherweight logan jeans review

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (27)

The Jeans: Rag & Bone Logan Featherweight Jeans in ‘Mira’ (Also at Nordstrom.)

The Details: 31.5″ inseam, 60% cotton/30% tencel. I’m wearing a size 27 (my usual). These jeans run a little loose through the hips & thighs, so my usual size worked. I’ve been wanting to try rag&bone’s featherweight line for a while (Scotti was the first one to sing the praises of tencel jeans) and these did not disappoint.

soft jeans that look like rigid jeans

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (27) | boots

What’s special about these jeans? These jeans are bananas lightweight (they’d be perfect in the summer, too), yet still manage to feel like quality. I don’t feel like I’m about to pop a hole in these jeans. I love that the faded blue wash has some interest, too – there are darker areas that ground the denim, and the whiskering is cool. I’m amazed by how these legitimately look like 100% cotton, rigid jeans…yet are so lightweight, soft, & forgiving.

Shop rag&bone Featherweight Logan Jeans


3. For Tall Girls: Rag & Bone Sophie Wide-Leg Jeans

rag&bone sophie jeans review

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (27)

The Jeans: Rag & Bone Sophie Wide-Leg Jeans in ‘Whitney’ (Also at Nordstrom.)

The Details: 34″ inseam (tall girls go nuts!!), fabric of 81% cotton, 11% lyocell, 6% polyester, & 2% elastane. I’m wearing a size 27 (my usual). These jeans are the soft, stretchy jeans of yesteryear (which is why my true size works), but unlike the jeans of yesteryear, they hold their shape better, yet retain alllll the softness.

wide-leg jeans with long inseam

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (27) | boots

What’s special about these jeans? While the rag&bone featherweight jean previously featured feels like wearing nothing, these jeans feel more like a gentle hug. If you’re looking for jeans that give an amazing bum (while retaining that easy fit), these are a great choice. The extra-long length is great for tall girls, but since these are true wide-legs, you can chop any length off without changing the silhouette. The one note I’ll make about the wash, however, is that it actually looks better in person than in the photo.

Shop rag&bone Sophie Jeans


4. For Under $100: Wit & Wisdom Wide-Leg Carpenter Jeans

wit & wisdom jeans review

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (4)

The Jeans: Wit & Wisdom Wide-Leg Carpenter Jeans in ‘Indigo’

The Details: 30.5″ inseam according to Nordstrom, but please note: mine are closer to 32″. The fabric is 67% cotton, 32% REPREVE® recycled polyester, 1% spandex. I’m wearing a size 4 (they run big).

best jeans under $100 2024

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (4) | boots

What’s special about these jeans? Uhh…EVERYTHING? I love, love, love the details here – the carpenter details, the hidden elastic waistband (makes these especially comfortable) and the pleat details that are sewed in such a way that they *look* like pleats without having that extra pleat fabric puckering up. The wash is dark, but has some variation to it, too. These jeans are just shockingly good.

cargo jeans under $100

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (4) | boots


5. For A Classic Dark Wash (That’s Not Boring): Mother Hustler High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans

mother hustler jeans review

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (28)

The Jeans: Mother Hustler High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans in ‘Karaoke in Kyoto’ (Also at Club Monaco.)

The Details: 32″ inseam, fabric is 94% cotton/5% polyester/1% elastane. I’m wearing a size 28 (sized up one size). Super soft, stretchy, good bum – a dream to wear.

mother hustler jeans, sezane tee, sorel heeled boots

 tee (s), c/o | jeans (28) | boots

What’s special about these jeans? While there are plenty of Mother Hustler jeans out there *waves vaguely around* I’m learning that they’re not all the same. I believe the operating word here is Mother Hustler High-Rise. The Mother Hustler Roller Sneaks look similar (and Nordstrom even puts them on the same product page together) but if you toggle back-and-forth between the ‘Karaoke in Kyoto’ wash and the ‘Off Limits’ wash, they don’t seem to fit the same. I vastly prefer the Hustler high-rise cut and this exact wash. The slight variation in such a dark wash is rare (and, I think, important). For this exact pair, Club Monaco or Tuckernuck are the best bets. That said, Net-a-Porter does have what I *think* is the exact same cut in a wash they’re calling ‘Blue’. The photo doesn’t show the same level of subtle variations in the wash, but I’m encouraged by Net-a-Porter’s description, “The wide legs are subtly faded and whiskered.”

Shop Mother Denim Hustler High-Rise, Wide-Leg Jeans


Anyone else have some denim luck recently? Spill!

xo,

S

8 COMMENTS

  1. I feel the same way about finding jeans I love for the first time in 20 years! My holy grail pair has been the Agolde kick flare. Rigid denim with a zipper instead of buttons and it loosens to fit your body but doesn’t bag out where you don’t want it to. It’s so good I bought four washes in different shades of denim.

  2. These jeans all look fabulous on you and lengthen the leg so nicely. And I think it helped me realize the main issue I’m having with all the denim in denim land. I’m 41 and I’m wearing sneakers or flats pretty much all the time. The wide leg is so hard to pull off as a curvy shortie (I’m 5’4) and hacking them often changes the overall silhouette, the drape, or both. In addition I wear a 31 and sizing up 1-2 can be tough in certain brands. I like that we’re seeing something other than 100% cotton rigid (I CANT), but the jeans search continues!

  3. Just bought the Citizens of Humanity Loli Mid Rise Baggy in Palazzo and LOVE THEM! I am 5’3″, 127 and got a size 26″. They are really long but look cute cuffed or you could hem or cut them easily!

  4. I just purchased the Frame Le Slim Palazzo Release Hem High Waist Wide Leg Jeans and they are fantastic! The length is actually pretty perfect for me at 5’4″ and the fabric is so soft!

  5. I’ve been happy with my new Madewell 90s Straight Utility jeans. These are not baggy, but you could size up for more slouch if you wanted. The cargo styling is subtle, which works for the office. I got my usual size 26 petite in black– perfection.

  6. I am also 5’3”, and jean buying brings me to tears. About a year ago I was desperate, purchased a pair of Tibi “Sid” in petite length for $$$$. It was a revelation, and now Tibi makes a handful of their pants and jeans in petite/short WITH SNAPS INSIDE THE BACK OF THE LEG, so I can wear them with sneakers, heels, kitten heels, sandals and don’t need to hem! I wear my SIDS constantly and always receive a compliment when wearing them.

  7. I so appreciate all your JEAN information!
    My favorite brand so far is KUT, wide leg. They are very slightly distressed (no cuts/holes👍🏻). I now want to try several of the ones you have mentioned… TY!

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