Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Finally Graduating To "Grown-Up" Jeans

In the last 5 years the price of jeans has steadily risen to the point where you can easily buy a pair for more than the monthly rent of a starter apartment. Many boutiques offer customized artisanal jeans, where grinding, washes and stitching are spoken with the same hushed tones wine connoisseurs discuss vintages and notes. Even a pair from the lowly Gap now averages over $60. What's a denim-lover to do?

I've always shopped for jeans in the Juniors department of Nordstrom and Macy's, where I can find a basic pair of low-rise, stretchy bootcut or slightly flared jeans for around $45. I never gave much though to my jeans, as long as they fit well (finding inseams long enough has always been a struggle) and are comfortable enough to move in.

But in the last month I've started getting annoyed with my current rotation of jeans. First, they're just too low cut. Combined with the stretchy denim, I have to be careful when I bend over, because they'll slip down my hips or butt. Second, they don't fit as well as they should. I have wide hips and a thin waist, so the fit at the waistband is often too loose. And because I'm tall, I find that regular length jeans are a little too short, while long lengths drag on the floor, which ruins the bottom seams. Finally, it seems that none of these Junior styles are available in a solid, dark wash. They're always "distressed" (why do I want to pay for someone to beat up my jeans for me?), "whiskered" on the thighs (please, my thighs don't need any extra attention drawn to them) and they're always darker at the calf than on thigh.

I decided to venture into the world of expensive jeans (defining expensive as anything over $60), wanting to see whether higher prices equaled higher quality. I had the best luck at Macy's, which had an impressive variety of brands and styles (though probably no better or worse than similar department stores). Unfortunately, the service also sucked, so I was on my own to dig through styles and sizes and colors to find something that fit. I tried dozens of pairs, refusing to look at prices until I narrowed my selection down to a few pairs, when I picked the cheapest pair among the best styles.

It turned out that the two pairs I ended up deciding between were among the cheapest I tried and were the same price and the same brand. They were the Lola Boot and Lil' Maggie styles by Lucky Brand Jeans, a brand I'd seen but passed over many times.

I ended up choosing the Lil' Maggie (above) because it fit wonderfully (low cut but not too low and just the right length) and had a number of details that I just couldn't resist. I love the uniform dark wash, which is so slimming, and the contrasting yellow stitching. The denim has just the right amount of stretch, is easy to move in and keeps it's shape through multiple wearings. But the real bonus is the waist, which is cut higher in back than in front. I'm sure Lucky didn't invent this, but it has to be the greatest thing to happen to jeans in the last ten years. I can bend all I want without fear of exposing underwear (or worse). The freedom!

I tried all the trendiest brands, but I saw no difference in quality between these $98 Lucky's and the $200 Seven's. There are definitely a number of good, hiqh quality brands in the $80-$120 range that are a big step up from the teen jeans I was buying before, and I think I can safely say that I won't be digging through the racks in Nordstrom's BP anymore.

Jeans are so subjective, it totally depends on which brands and styles fit your body, and the Lucky's just happened to fit mine. So tell me, dear readers, what jeans brand are you devoted to?

14 comments:

Distar said...

I remain faithful to Citizens of Humanity- though I've had to alter each time. They're too long on the leg, but fit gorgeously everywhere else.

My current jean that I'm wearing all the time is a pair of black Armani Exchange slim leg jeans. Love them.

lisa said...

I'm kind of obsessed with Old Navy jeans, even though I know there have to be better brands out there that I'm just too lazy to look for.

I can't remember where I got the link from, so if it was from here, sorry haha. But Zafu is pretty neat and helps find jeans that meet whatever specifications you put in. You clearly already found some good ones, but it's a good link to have around anyway.

the addict said...

Ah, jeans. The search never ends. I know you're not into skinnies, but J Brand and AG make the best (people rave over Superfine but they actually cut off the circulation in my KNEES!).

For a good variety of cuts and washes I'm loving Earnest Sewn. They hold their shape in the wash, too...soooo important.

Annie said...

I'm all about the Luckys myself...but I buy the boy jeans...the Slim Bootcut. It's what works on my booty.
Just got a new pair too in a fab dark wash - love them, but HATE going jean shopping! It's worse than trying to find a swimsuit...

ashley churchill said...

i'm a levis girl myself, maybe only because i know my size and don't have to spend nine days trying stuff on.

Meg said...

Annie is totally right- shopping for jeans is worse than finding the right swimsuit. It seems that everyone finds a brand that fits their body and is loyal forever, I'm happy with the Lucky's but I'm still going to check out other brands.

And Kristen- any article of clothing that limits blood flow is to be avoided at all cost, no matter what people say! Sounds like you learned that lesson the hard way. Your point about a pair keeping their shape is also really important and I think that's the biggest distinction between cheap and well made jeans.

EthidiumBromide said...

I'm not too much of a jeans girl myself -- give me a nice A-line skirt and a pair of heels, or some pinstripe trousers any day of the week. However, since I work in a laboratory, I'm doing a lot of messy things on a typical day and don't always feel like spilling vats of bacteria or cell culture media down the front of my new Ann Taylor skirt. For me, jeans are a practicality on days when I know I'll be doing something dirty... so I refuse to spend more than $50, especially since I always wind up with bleach splatters on them from decontaminating glassware. The best place I've found for respectable jeans under $50 is Old Navy -- I'm not a fan of the store and I won't buy anything else, but their jeans are acceptable and inexpensive.

Meg said...

ethidiumbromide: I wish I could pull off a skirt and heels every day of the week! You must win "best dressed in the lab" every year! I'm just so much more comfortable in pants and flats, but I know I'll have to change my look when I start actually working.

Meg said...

Distar- getting jeans tailored is a great idea, especially if it's just a matter of them being too long. I think far too few people get their clothes tailored.. it makes a huge difference for (usually) a small amount of money.

CTPrep said...

I hate jeans shopping so I don't own many pairs. I'm petite so it's very hard to find ones that are just the right length (I don't like the look of tailored jeans unless the seam matches the original). My one great find however came at Salvation Army... AG jeans in my size for $4.97! I totally squealed in delight when I found them!

RVAfashionista said...

I am quite fond of the Vigoss ones found in the Nordstrom BP. department and they usually fit me quite well for the money. Their sizes have been running a bit small as of late though so every time we get a new style, I have to try them on.

I've tried on Citizens and Sevens before and they really don't do much for me but I'm also afraid of "crossing over" and getting addicted to designer jeans.

One of my fave pairs though is by some brand called Seduction that I found at a store called Urban Planet in the Potamac Mills outlet mall. I found 'em for $10 on their clearance rack.

Levi's straight slouch (504 I think), is also one of my faves.

Obviously, I have too many jeans. LOL.

sparkler said...

I swear by Gap Long and Leans with stretch. They're the best fitting cut I've ever found.

Anonymous said...

I love Gap skinny jeans- they're not too skinny and not too low rise. I have no hips, though...

Hyperion said...

Meg hun - you should of been wearing decent hipsters by now :)

Animal are OK - so are Supreme Being - Superfine hipsters are something you jsut should not be without HUN.

Everyone has to flashh ASS in hipsters babe - a nice short jacket - top - a pair of hipsters and a good medium 2in platform shoe - and work that arse round the shops in the city!!

Its a religion hun.. I cant do without wearing hipsters at least once a week - jsut the love and adore the feel of them on my hips and bum ;)

Hyper x0x