Around here, jeans have a short life cycle. They go from fabulous to faded (and not in a good way) in just a few months, which has always been a source of frustration for me. Not only do they lose that sophisticated-looking, slimming dark color I love so much (especially in the winter months), but they shrink. My husband laughs when I say this, but I’m telling you dangit, they get tighter and tighter with each wash (it’s the jeans that are changing size, I tell you!)! Even though I have no kids and a full time job, there’s no way I can afford to completely re-stock my jeans every season. It’s not happening. So, upon realizing for the umteenth time that, yep, I have officially worn out ALL of my jeans again, I decided to do something about it.
I took to the internet and did some research. That, coupled with some common sense I had been storing away in some obscure corner of my brain, gave me four revelations about having GREAT jeans:
1. Brand Matters
I’ve gotten into the habit of looking up reviews for nearly every purchase I make. Why I waited until now to apply that to jeans is beyond me. I use them more than most other products I buy, so why shouldn’t they be well-reviewed? I surfed until I got a consensus, and found that some brands definitely hold together better than others. After stupidly buying the same cheap Kohl’s brand of jeans several times, I finally stopped because their loose-fitting, floor-dragging jeans are butt-crunching high-waters in just a few washes. As far as brands, the recommendations I read (and am not giving, because I haven’t tested them myself) are Levi’s, Lucky Brand, and True Religion (the last of which…you will shoot your coffee at your screen when you see the prices). So yes, brand matters.
2. The Store Matters
Going in hand with the brand *chuckles at my inherent rhyming skills* is the store. To prove this point to myself (because I’m the hardest one to convince apparently) I went to Gordman’s, a discount retail chain that sells mostly cheap clothing with a few random high-end brands sprinkled around. And let me tell you…I walked around their enormous Junior’s jeans section squinting my eyes in disgust at the ridiculous things companies do to their jeans. Seriously, are we not over the holes thing yet? Are we STILL doing this? I found one pair of jeans I loved, and it was $80, apparently on sale from $160. The quality seemed great, but I had another store to check out first. And what a difference it made! I went to Macy’s, having never shopped there before because in passing I had seen a few $200 dresses and subsequently marked the store off as “above my price range.” When I walked into Macy’s Junior’s denim section, I finally felt like someone understood me. Classy, sophisticated jeans! Apparently the store matters too.
3. Price Matters, but Not as Much as You Think
I fully expected to pay a minimum of $50 for jeans at Macy’s, but was surprised to find that most jeans were under $35. This was a pleasant surprise, as I had been foolishly paying $25 for each pair of crappy store-brand jeans in my wardrobe. They all seemed to be higher-quality jeans, and I felt good when I finally made my purchase. The secret is to shop the sales, and though I had done this unintentionally, if you time it right you can get better-brand jeans for crappy-store-brand prices if you just get past that $600 pair of shoes at the front entrance.
4. Now..Get Dirty!
This is the part I will undoubtedly have the most trouble with, because it’s a foreign concept to me. Here goes: do NOT wash your jeans after every wear. In fact, wait for as many wears as you can—I’ve heard people say to throw them in the dryer to “freshen” them rather than wash them. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I would only re-wear a pair of jeans if it was an emergency and I had no other option. No wonder they wore out so fast! Detergent is the enemy of a pair of great jeans, and should be used relatively sparingly (that’s relative to once every wear, as I did). I’ve already tried getting in this practice with my old jeans, and I must say…the only difference I’ve noticed between a newly washed pair and a worn-a-few-times pair is the latter pair fits a lot more comfortably. It kind of makes me feel skinnier. Which falls in the “win” category. If this grosses you out, like it did me, just try it. Unless you’re sweating, standing in front of bonfires, or splashing in mud puddles (or other obviously sludgy things), the jeans can take a lot before they need more than an airing out. All in a days work of getting great jeans!
Love, a decidedly more sophisticated-looking (but probably not) Twentysomething