5 Favorites: Denim Edition

Happy First Day of August! I’m back today with another post in my 5 Favorites series, and today we’re discussing 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 usually more comfortable, and I wear jeans so much 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 Pairs of Jeans: Premium Denim & Jeans Under $100

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 I figure you’d rather see pictures of me wearing the different styles than the website stock photos.

For size reference, I’m 5’5 and 135-ish pounds — these days I’m usually pushing 140. (Gotta start cutting carbs!) Also, I’m short-waisted with a slightly hourglass shape. I usually wear a 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, 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.

#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.

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

Yes, the price is steep, but they do go on sale, and you can also find them at second hand stores and off-price retailers like TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and Saks Off 5th if you’re patient. Size down if in between; otherwise they’re true to size. I wear them in a 28.

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

#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. I have them in white as well as mint green and I used to have a pink pair. 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 in Ultra White // slim fit portofino shirt // suede sandals // perforated tote // 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 Ankle Skinny Jeans // Lucky Brand mixed stitch sweater // Tory Burch hobo // similar wedge sandals // Stella & Dot Tala earrings and necklace

#3. DL1961 Emma Legging Jeans // I’m including these even though I don’t wear them much anymore because they were my favorites before I discovered AG. These also do not bag out with wear and fit and feel great on. I will say, though, that the back pockets are on the larger side and they aren’t as flattering from the rear view as AG and Paige. They’re still great jeans, and the price point is slightly lower than some premium brands, which is a bonus.

DL1961 Emma Legging jeans // kimono blouse // nude leather pumps

These are 29″ long with a 10″ leg opening, so an inch longer than the first two pairs. DL1961 runs fairly true to size. If you’re in between, you may want to size up. I have a 29 in my DL1961 jeans.

DL1961 Emma Power Legging Jeans in Token // Lucky Brand Yakeena Zip Wedge Bootie // Clare V. Leopard Print Foldover Clutch // assorted Alex and Ani charm bangles

#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. 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 // Hinge Print V-Neck Top // Sam Edleman Yaro Sandals // perforated tote

ANYWHO. I got these 7FAM Kimmie bootcuts from Trunk Club last spring, and I really love the fit. They’re very flattering and stretchy and comfortable. One thing about 7FAM jeans is they do stretch out so always buy them snug. These exact jeans in the Duchess wash have a 33″ inseam, which works out perfectly for me with most of my heels so I didn’t have to have them hemmed, but if you need a longer pair, the Stunning Bleeker wash has a 36″ inseam.

#5. J Brand Low Rise Crop Jeans // I debated between including these or my 7FAM Ankle Skinny Jeans. I think I wear them both equally, but I decided to discuss a 5th brand since I already talked about 7FAM with my bootcut jeans. I don’t have any other J Brand jeans, but this particular pair has been super popular for going on three summer seasons so I think they deserve a mention. We all know how hard it is to find white jeans that aren’t see-through, and J Brand does a great job with this pair. (I can’t speak for any of their other white jeans as I haven’t tried them.)

For distressed white jeans, these are perfect. They had a released hem before the released hem was really trending, and the shredded knees don’t break through into gaping holes. (Just be careful not to put your foot through them when putting them on!)

J Brand Low Rise Crop Jeans in Demented White Distressed (size up) // BR linen scoop neck tee (old) // silk scarf // Marc Fisher Annie platform wedges // Kate Spade Mylie Hobo

I like how the texture of the shredded knees and released hem creates a pleasing contrast with the pristine white jeans. These are a cropped style with a 26 1/2″ inseam and 10 1/2″ leg opening, making them shorter than the ankle jeans I featured above. It’s a nice length for summer.

I sized up to a 30 in these, as I did in my white Paige skinnies, and I think they’re the right size even though they tend to slide down as I wear them. They fit well through the thighs and rear, but the waist is kind of big. I should probably look into having them altered, but I’ve never bothered. I still like them and wear them regularly.

J Brand Low Rise Crop Jeans in Demented White Distressed (size up) // Tory Burch Miller sandals // nail polish: Zoya snow white

My 5 Favorite Pairs of Jeans Under $100

#1. Lucky Brand Brooke Legging Jeans // I realize these could be considered premium denim because some of the washes retail for just over $100, but you can usually get them for less because they run frequent sales, and I feel like these fit and feel more like the under-$100 brands I’m including in this post.

Eyelet Off-the-Shoulder Top Outfit with Lace-Up Block Heel Sandals

For legging jeans under $100, these are definitely my favorites. They fit great and don’t stretch out much with wear. They’re not as soft as AG and DL1961, and I don’t like the washes quite as well, but they’re definitely a good pair of jeans for the price point — especially when they go on sale. These jeans have a 29″ inseam and a 10″ leg opening, same as the DL1961 Emma legging jeans.

Brooke Legging Jeans // washed eyelet top // slides // similar crossbody

#2. Wit & Wisdom Ab-solution Stretch Skinny Jeans // These fit a lot like the DL1961 Emma Legging jeans, although the pair I have is one inch longer. (The inseam varies so check that out before ordering.) These jeans are very comfortable, although they do stretch out some so I recommend sizing down one. The ab-solution power-mesh panels slim and hold, and the waistband has interior control and booty-lift construction… and who doesn’t want that!?!

Wit & Wisdom ‘Ab Solution’ Stretch Skinny Jeans // Rails ‘Hunter’ Plaid Shirt // Caslon Rounded V-Neck Tee // Chuck Taylor Shoreline Sneakers // Moon & Lola ‘Dalton’ Long Pendant Necklace // similar bar pendant necklace

#3. Articles of Society Sarah Skinny Jeans // This brand makes a soft and stretchy pair of jeans that are very comfortable and fit well. The Sarah Skinny Jeans have a 29″ inseam and 10″ leg opening, same as the DL1961 legging jeans and Lucky Brand legging jeans. The Carly is their crop style with a 26″ inseam. These tend to run big and they do stretch so definitely size down.

Articles of Society Sarah Distressed Skinny Jeans // cold shoulder tee (sold out) // Tory Burch hobo // similar wedge sandals // layered necklace

#4. LOFT Modern Skinny Jeans // Loft makes a decent pair of jeans, and they are consistently a reader favorite. I bought these modern frayed skinny crop jeans at the beginning of summer, and I was impressed with how they fit and wore although they did stretch out a bit after I had them on for a few hours. I think you can tell to look at them, they’re not as flattering as some of the other styles I’ve featured in this post, but for the price, they’re not bad. If you’re looking for white jeans under $50, try these. They’re $41 on the current sale price.

How to Style Light Wash Jeans

LOFT Modern Frayed Skinny Crop Jeans // Marc Fisher Annie platform wedges // Kate Spade Mylie Hobo

#5. Riders By Lee Bounce Back Skinny Jeans // I did a paid campaign with Riders By Lee last year and styled a pair of their Bounce Back Skinny Jeans in a casual fall outfit as well as a dressier holiday date night outfit. Considering the ultra-low price point, I was truly impressed by how well they fit and how good they looked on, and they definitely held up to their claims of not bagging out after several hours of wear. They’re not as soft and comfortable as the other jeans I’ve featured in this section, but for $20, you can’t beat ’em.

These figure-flattering jeans from Riders by Lee are comfortable and fashionable, and they kept their shape even after spending an afternoon at the pumpkin patch.

I wanted to include some bootcut jeans in this section because I know some of you don’t wear skinnies, but to be honest, I haven’t tried any. I also haven’t tried any straight leg jeans in either category. I realize that some body types definitely look best in those styles so I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. Maybe that’s something I can work on this fall.

If you have a favorite pair of jeans (any style or price point), feel free to share in the comments so we can all benefit!

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