"Denim is special in that it works well in any season and pairs with almost any other garment," says Diego Abba, CEO of Italist, a luxury website that carries upwards of 5,000 pairs of jeans from various brands. While Abba notes that jeans are a classic and versatile wardrobe staple worldwide, finding the best pair of jeans isn't always a walk in the park. You can check out our guide to the latest denim trends showcasing different denim brands and styles from high-rise to straight-leg to distressed jeans (which Abba notes is one of the season's best-selling styles). But a jean lover's organic seal of approval is sometimes the best you can hope for—and here, that's what you'll get.
We tapped our expert denim-wearing Marie Claire staff to dish on the best jeans they've ever bought. One jean-loving director tells you about their favorite jeans that have lasted her for half a decade. Plus, we'll break down exactly how to choose quality jeans, find the perfect fit, and how to care for your denim after you've invested.
How Do You Pick the Best Jeans?
- Denim Weight
The weight of denim—light, medium, or heavy— can speak to the quality of the denim you choose. A higher yarn count, or heavier denim, often equates to a higher quality, more durable style that won't unravel as they're worn. So while we recommend mid-to-heavy weight denim, lighter denim fabrics make for great tops, skirts, and dresses.
"I've always been inspired by how much memory denim fabric can hold," says denim designer Sonia Mosseri. While stretch denim offers less stiff and often more comfortable wear, the elasticated material used in stretch denim can be subject to deterioration over time. To find the right amount of stretch, look for labels that have one to three percent elastic, and be sure to refer to the wash instructions to help maintain that style.
Consider the right denim purchase a good investment. You don't have to always opt for pricey designer styles, but a higher price point often translates to better quality— right down to the supply chain. Remember that quality over quantity goes a long way with your jeans with the price-per-wear factor (for more, check out our guide to sustainable denim).
How to Measure for the Best Jeans
Measuring your inseam isn't as complicated as it sounds. To get an accurate measurement, measure alongside the inner seam, taking the measuring tape from the bottom of the groin area to the bottom of your jean hem.
- Denim Rise
Everyone has preferences regarding the rise of their jeans, but how do you find out for sure? Measure the distance from the top of the waistband to the top of the inseam, and et voilà!
- Hip Width
Place a measuring tape along the widest part of your hips to gauge your hip measurements and wrap it around your backside.
How to Care For Jeans
Now that you know how to choose the fabric weight and fit to secure the best jeans, it's essential to care for your jeans properly. To keep your denim from fading and shrinking, always wash your denim with cold water. Skip the dryer to avoid shrinking and premature breakdown. Turning your jeans inside out to wash and dry will help prevent droopy pockets.
Best High-Rise Jeans
Marie Claire's Social Media Editor Lucia Tonelli is a big fan of high-rise jeans. "I've owned these Gap jeans for two years, but I'm sure I've worn them more often than any other pair of jeans I've owned," she says. "The barrel fit is not just insanely comfortable (sweatpants comfortable), but also flattering and versatile."
Tonelli pairs them with everything— from a loose graphic T-shirt and Chuck Taylors to a corset top and platform heels. "The waistline sits perfectly above my hips, and because of the looser fit, they never tug, pull, or feel stiff when sitting down," she raves. "They also get more comfortable with every wash. The slight fading over time makes them look even cooler."
Best Vintage-Style Jeans
"I was devastated when skinny jeans went out of style," says Marie Claire Beauty Director Deena Campbell. "I had over 30 pairs—what was a girl to do? Enter these leg-lengthening tailored trousers. This Madewell pair is my go-to when I want high-rise jeans with a tapered leg that still feels skinny without tightness. The vintage indigo wash is also great for dressing up and down."
Best Slim-Fit Jeans
"I'm obsessed with the Levi's 720 High Rise Super Skinny," says Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire's Director of Content Strategy. "I've invested in baggy boyfriend jeans and mom jeans in the past, but I'm yet to find a more reliable, comfortable pair of (reasonably) affordable jeans than these. They're perfectly snug (not tight)—like a pair of leggings—and they have great longevity. I recently tried to retire my five-year-old 720 black jeans that had faded but ended up cutting them into shorts, and now they have a second life."
Best Relaxed Fit Jeans
"Still Here's Childhood fit is my everyday go-to," says denim designer Sonia Mosseri. "It's an extremely versatile relaxed fit leg, super high rise, wedgie fit jean. It's an original cool-girl jean that features a traditional button fly," Mosseri explains. Made from 100 percent BCI-certified cotton, Still Here's relaxed-fit style comes in size range 23 to 32.
Best Designer Jeans
"I've never been a jeans-wearing-gal, but Khaite's jeans have a distinct look and fit that has garnered a cult following amongst even non-denim-devotees and the fashion set," says Fashion Director Sara Holzman. "The brand's best-selling Vivian jeans have a slightly cropped flare style (great for petite ladies like myself) and run true to size, so shopping for them online is very easy. While the Vivian style is on the pricier side, each pair is hand-finished and boasts Khaite's signature antique brass button."
Best Flare Jeans
"I'm a Leo through and through, which means that I love to make a bold fashion statement whenever possible," says E-Commerce Writer Gabrielle Ulubay. "I'm also enamored with the fashion trends of the 1960s and 70s, with their sometimes-whimsical, sometimes-edgy silhouettes that always make a showstopping impression. Thus, I instantly fell in love when I laid eyes on these jeans from Wrangler. They have a flattering high-ride waistline that flares out dramatically at the knees and, for added drama, feature a nostalgic red and white pattern all over that's offset by deep-blue belt loops and pockets. They look perfect any time of year, and can be paired with bodysuits, baggy sweaters, cropped tops, or simple white tees."