5 Favorites: Denim Edition

Greetings on another hot, humid day in October! What is WITH this weather, anyway??? I’m beyond over it. Anyway, I’m resurrecting my 5 Favorites series and updating some of those popular posts, and I thought we’d start with my favorite topic — denim. *cue angels singing*

I love a good pair of jeans and I always have. I remember in high school splurging on a pair of Guess jeans, and I thought I had arrived. Haha!

I’ve always been willing to spend a little more on good quality denim because the fit is generally far superior to cheaper brands, they’re so much more comfortable, and I wear jeans so often, the cost per wear averages out. However, I realize that not everyone shares my priorities or budget so I’m always on the lookout for more budget-friendly brands that make a good-fitting pair of jeans to recommend.

For this post, I’m going to do two sets of 5 Favorites so I can focus equally on premium denim and jeans under $100.

5 Favorite Jeans: Two lists of my 5 favorite pairs of jeans -- under $100 and premium denim!

The main distinction between premium denim and everything else is price point. You’d think there would be some other qualifications like fabric content, quality of materials, where they are made, how they are made, etc., but there are not any industry standards beyond price point. Of course, price point is typically dictated by quality of fabric and workmanship, and premium denim tends to be better quality and give more attention to detail when it comes to the wash and distressing, but it is basically price that divides the two groups.

As you read along, please remember that this is my job. I wouldn’t have as many pairs of jeans as I do if it weren’t for this blog. I’m in no way trying to brag or show off, but most people would rather see pictures of me wearing the different styles than the website stock photos.

For your reference, I’m 5’5 and 140 pounds with a slight hourglass shape, and I wear size 28 or 29 (6 or 8) in pants and jeans.

My 5 Favorite Pairs of Jeans {Premium Denim}

With big ticket items, I try to buy on sale when at all possible, and that is definitely the case with premium denim. I buy almost all of my jeans 25-40% off. ShopbopNordstrom, Saks, and Bloomingdale’s are just a few retailers that regularly discount their designer denim brands, and I try to give y’all a heads-up whenever I see a good sale. Also, if you know what to look for, you can score great finds at Saks Off Fifth and Nordstrom Rack.

#1. AG The Legging Ankle Jeans // These are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to skinny jeans. AG has the best washes, the best fit, and the best materials of all the jeans I’ve tried, and they only get better with age. They don’t bag out on you as you wear them, but they do stretch a bit in the right places and mold to your body for that perfect lived-in fit. These jeans have a 28″ inseam and a 10″ leg opening, which is my favorite combination for wearing with all types of shoes.

The pair in this picture is my oldest, most beloved pair. I still wear these a couple times a week, but they did finally get discontinued.

AG The Legging Ankle // strap front tee (old) // Marc Fisher wedges // Tory Burch Serif-T Saddle Bag (old; check eBay) // photo credit: Kelsey Cherry

A very similar pair with a raw hem but no distressing is this pair, which I also wear a lot, and they’re 35% off right now!!!

AG Raw Hem Legging Ankle Jeans 7 Year Break // nude leather pumps // similar Tory Burch hobo

I also have them in black, and I just ordered a grey pair when they were on sale last week. You really can’t go wrong with any of the AG legging ankle jeans, though.

I buy a lot of my jeans at Bloomingdale’s because they run good sales, sometimes I buy them at Nordstrom (they always have a pair during the #NSale), and I’ve also bought a few pairs on Amazon. Size down if in between; otherwise they’re true to size. I wear them in a 28.

#2. Paige Verdugo Ankle Skinny Jeans // Paige also makes a fabulous pair of jeans that fit well and don’t bag out, and the Verdugo style is one of my favorites. These are hands-down my favorite white jeans. The rear pockets are one reason I love Paige jeans — they’re smaller than average and well-placed so they create a flattering rear view.

Paige Verdugo Ankle Skinny Jeans // Kut from the Kloth denim jacket // yellow shell // sandals (old) // photo credit: Alison Cornell

Even among the Verdugo Ankle styles, the inseam seems to vary. Mine have a 28″ inseam and a 10 1/4″ leg opening, similar to the AG Legging Ankle Jeans, and I notice some other washes are 27 1/2″ and 10″. I generally wear a size larger in Paige than I do in AG, and most people agree that they run a bit small. I’m usually a 29 and my white ones are actually a size 30.

Paige Verdugo Crop Jeans // yellow shell // gold sandals // cuff bracelet // pink bag (old) // photo credit: Alison Cornell

#3. 7 For All Mankind The Ankle Skinny Jeans // These are a newer favorite, and they’ve pretty much replaced the DL1961 Emma in my lineup. The Emma is a great pair of jeans, but something about the rear pockets don’t quite do it for me.

I have the 7FAM ankle skinnies in several colors, and the pair from the #NSale this summer (unfortunately sold out) has been on serious repeat ever since I purchased them. They have a great fit, and they’re lightweight and comfortable, but the washes generally aren’t quite as good as AG and Paige, which is why they’re in the #3 slot.

This dark wash pair is 29″ long with a 10″ leg opening, so an inch longer than the first two pairs, and it also has a higher rise. They run TTS, or if in between, size down. I wear a size 28 in most 7FAM blue jeans.

similar 7 For All Mankind b(air) Ankle Skinny Jeans // Lark & Ro cashmere turtleneck // Vince mules // bag // necklace // bracelet // photo credit: Alison Cornell

The colored ones I have are 28″ and have a lower rise, and I like to size up to a 29 for a little extra breathing room. They do tend to slide down some, but when I wear the size 28, they’re too tight on my thighs for my comfort level.

7FAM The Ankle Skinny Jeans // Vans slip-on sneakers // RM Darren shoulder bag // Wildfox white pullover

#4. 7 For All Mankind Kimmie Bootcut Jeans // I realize not everyone loves skinny jeans like I do, so I wanted to include a bootcut style as well even though I don’t wear them a ton. My current favorites are the 7FAM Kimmie. I’ve had these for a couple of years now, but you can find my exact pair in the Duchess wash at Bloomingdale’s and Saks. I think it’s the perfect mid-wash for dressing up or down. One thing about 7FAM jeans is they do stretch some, so I always buy them snug. For reference, I have the 28 in these.

I only wear bootcut jeans with heels because I feel that they’re more flattering that way, plus I don’t want to have to worry about having a bunch of different lengths in my closet. That’s the biggest benefit to skinny jeans — you don’t usually have to worry about hemming unless you’re petite. You really should hem your bootcut jeans to work with your shoes, which is one reason I think they’re not coming back into popularity as quickly as some wish they would.

7 For All Mankind Kimmie Bootcut Jeans in Duchess // similar Hinge blouses // Stuart Weitzman booties // necklace

#5. FRAME Le Slender Straight Leg Jeans // I hate to include a pair in this list that’s sold out, but I wanted to include a straight pair, and I really do love these jeans. I feel like these are the grownup version of the high-rise Levi’s mom jeans that are taking over my Instagram feed. Frame does make a couple other straight styles, so I might order a few and see how they compare. I’d really like a pair in a darker wash.

FRAME Le Slender Straight Leg Jeans // colorblock sweater (sold out) // booties // bag

I have other pairs I like and wear a lot — my Citizens slim boyfriend jeans are still in rotation, and I also like their cropped skinnies, but I feel like the 5 above are the ones I wear the most.

My 5 Favorite Pairs of Jeans Under $100

#1. Articles of Society Sarah Skinny Jeans // These are the best dupes for the AG legging ankle jeans that I’ve found. They fit great, and their washes look pretty good. They do tend to stretch some, so you may want to size down. I wear a 28 in these.

Articles of Society Sarah skinnies // red scarf ($12) // Bernardo leather jacket // grey sweater (old) // bag // burgundy flats

#2. Kut from the Kloth Natalie Bootcut Jeans // I actually have two pairs of bootcut jeans in this list! I got these Kut from the Kloth jeans during the #NSale, and my wash is sold out, but they still sell this style. I tried a bunch of under-$100 bootcut jeans, and I really liked the wash on these as well as the fit of the leg and the rear pocket placement.

Kut from the Kloth Natalie Bootcut Jeans// Paystub jacket // lace trim camisole // sandals // bag // necklace // earrings // sunnies c/o Maui Jim

#3. Express Mid Rise Barely Boot Jeans // Another under-$100 pair of bootcut jeans that impressed me are these from Express. I’ve worn them a couple times already, and they hold up well with wear. For size reference, I take a 29 in these, and today all Express jeans are on sale for $39.90!!!

Express Mid Rise Barely Boot Jeans // booties // similar BlankNYC moto jacket // tank // bag // necklace // earrings // photo credit: Alison Cornell

#4. LOFT Modern Skinny Jeans // Loft makes a decent pair of jeans, and they are consistently a reader favorite. I’m pretty impressed with the fit of their modern skinny jeans, and I often link them as a good similar for less option. They do stretch out some, so I wear a 6.

LOFT Modern Frayed Skinny Crop Jeans // sweater // shoes // bag // earrings // bracelets

#5. Old Navy Rockstar Skinny Jeans // I discovered these when I did my white jeans comparison post, and I was pleasantly surprise with the fit and that they didn’t stretch out with wear.

Old Navy Rockstar skinnies // Tory Burch Minnie flats // perfect white tee (10% off with Jolynne10) // Stella & Dot layered necklace // photo credit: Dottie Foley

The above picture is the Old Navy Rockstar skinnies in a pink color that has been discontinued, but I couldn’t find the post where I featured the white ones. I was pretty sure I did in one outfit, but here is my try-on picture at home.

Old Navy Rockstar skinny jeans // Tory Burch Miller Sandals

So there you have it! I doubt many of these are a surprise to you regulars, but hopefully it’s helpful if you’re making denim purchases this fall.

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