How A Cheap Jeans Addict Finally Fell For A Pair Of Designer Denim

Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
My history with jeans is long, and mostly sad. In my life, I have probably owned dozens, if not hundreds, of crappy pairs of jeans, none of which ever really fit me properly, all of which were eventually thrown out in a fit of disgust (except for the few that remain, lonely, at the bottom of my drawer).

The reasons for my shitty choice of denim are manyfold, but clearly began in youth, as my parents were heartless devotees of the Sears and Old Navy brand jeans. How I longed for a sexy pair of Abercrombies at 16, and how I burned with envy at the girls who walked around with those two classy, elegant swooping lines on their ass pockets. You would think that with all of this depravation and Chronically Uncool Pantwear, I would have leapt right into expensive jeans the second I started making my own money. But, habits are hard to break, and cheap jeans were always my go-to. As my mother would say, “You wear them out anyway.”

And I did wear them out, which was always kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I bought crappy jeans because I knew they would soon develop holes (as they always did, embarrassingly, in the inner-thigh area), and the cheapness itself would speed the wearing-out process. Add to that the fact that my ~curvy~ lower half requires a good amount of stretch in any jean, and I was always in Shitty Spandexy Denim City.

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I’ve had near-endless pairs of H&M and Forever21 jeans, some of which retired when their zippers spectacularly broke mid-wear, some of which simply wore holes straight through the ass area, once without me being aware of it until a kindly restaurant owner pointed it out to me as I was walking to my table. When I did my closet cleanse earlier this year, I knew I wanted to finally invest in a pair that would go the distance and flatter me in a way $15 jeans cannot, but, until now, I had never found The Pair.

The thing about fancy jeans is that they are often made for, well, skinny girls. They are usually quite narrow, with very little stretchy material, and they come in cuts that tend to flatter you only if you sort of go straight down from the waist and beyond. With nearly every “nice” pair I would try on, I would have to go up at least two sizes, and be left with something that fit around the butt, yet was comically loose around the waist and puffy at the calves. No high-quality jeans were ever “skinny” on me.

I would covet the beautiful, slightly distressed or classy dark-washed jeans at Madewell, despite being disappointed with the fit every time I tried them. Their definition of “accommodating” stretch was a measly 2% of spandex. Sorry, everyone, that is just not going to cut it for the pear-shaped among us. But, Madewell is only the pitstop on the way to designer jeans territory, definitely nice but not “fancy.” The really nice ones, I thought, would only be worse in all of the “skinny girls only” ways Madewell ones were.

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But, a friend who loves me enough to give me the harsh realities and facts of life recently explained to me that the bougie malls were actually the worst possible middle ground for a curvy girl seeking quality denim. We either had to cycle through several pairs of cheapies a year, as I had been doing, or go for the upgraded brands that had a variety of cuts and materials to accommodate every body shape. I trusted her, and I knew that these pants were in my destiny, but I was not ready to drop $200 on anything made out of blue-dyed cotton. Sorry.

Luckily, a small boutique near my apartment was having a 50% off sale on all of its denim, so after much agonizing and a grand chickening out at the 7 For All Mankind store in Paris, it was finally time to get my Nice Jeans.

Something drew me to these immediately, the perfect pair of skinnies in the perfect dark wash. And, the fit was like something out of my dreams: slim yet not clingy throughout the leg, tight enough to tuck into a boot, and flawless around the hips and waist. It grabbed me where it should, and left me free to fly elsewhere. Never before had I felt a jean that seemed to work so well with my body, or be made with my body type specifically in mind. I got them right away, at a cool half off, and will be on the lookout for the same model in different colors.

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So far, I am in love. And, while only time will tell if they will prove to be, in fact, the Best Jeans Ever, already I can tell that — in fit and look alone — they feel very much worth the investment. While I never used to think of denim as something to really invest in (as opposed to leather goods, which you should obviously not buy super cheap), I can tell from experience that going with the shoddy version of something you wear as often as jeans only ends up costing you money in the long run. I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds on poorly-cut, ill-fitting, hole-prone pants, and heinous jeggings that I somehow thought were acceptable at the time. I even once splurged on a JCrew pixie pant which, though I love it in theory, only ends up making my general hip area look like the Michelin Man.

My closet cleanse was a big step in the right direction for me, and has made my life measurably easier and happier in many ways. And even if, for the next few months, I only open up my drawer and see the one pair of jeans that fits me perfectly (with a few old, crappy ones kept for emergency), it feels infinitely better knowing that what I have is of quality, style, and durability. And, besides, I shouldn’t be wearing jeans too much, anyway. Dresses and skirts shouldn’t go into hibernation just because it’s winter, and I feel like leaving the house in a blanket.
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