Invest In: Quality Denim

“I recently discovered that my denim drawer is looking a little light.  I’ve  only invested in two or three new pair of jeans in the past couple years, and I feel like it’s time to upgrade.  The old pairs are falling apart and I want to invest in something that will last, and will look good no matter what season it is.

Buying quality denim can seem sort of intimidating.  I’m hesitant to buy any because I’ve always had such a hard time finding anything that fits right.  I’m not tall by any means – a good 5’4″ and I’m small.  The biggest hurdle – no two pair are the same and the sizing is never as cut and dry as with men’s denim.  Mister can walk into a store and buy a 29/30 and know that it’s probably going to fit him, no matter what brand.

Womens jeans are MUCH different: Even if they’re sized like mens’ jeans, a 26 in one pair is most likely much different than a 26 in another.

(Image from DenimDebutante)

To get around this daunting and scary task of trying to pick a pair of jeans, I decided to ask Jaime of Denim Debutante to assist in my denim investment.

A good pair of jeans is something you should invest in, because for most people, denim is a staple wardrobe piece.  Picking the right pair of denim does wonders for your figure and a good pair, with proper care, will last you ages.  It’s a piece that can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion and when you’re buying a staple, it’s best to pick quality over quantity/cost.

(Image from MissPinkSlip)

So, everybody, let’s say “hello” to Jaime!!”

Jaime!  Hi!  As a writer at Denim Debutante, you’re well versed in how to pick a pair of quality denim.  What are a few things people need to remember when investing in a pair of denim (ie. their hip/waist measurement, how quality denim is better, etc)?  Which brands, that you’ve found, offer the best value (quality for the price) on denim?

First thing’s first: I’m so glad that you’ve asked me to do this! I know that for most people (and women in particular), purchasing denim… well, it sucks. It’s a crappy experience for two reasons:

1. They don’t know their correct sizing, and
2. They haven’t bought the right pair of jeans.

So many women come to me and lament about how much they hate buying jeans, and it usually boils down to one or both of those things. But, it really doesn’t have to be hard, I promise. There are three key things you need to know about buying jeans and, while they might feel like secrets, they’re actually pretty basic!

  1. Know your sizing: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten emails from women who are beyond clueless about their sizing, or they give me a range (“Well, last year I was a 3, now I’m a 6. What size am I?”). Sadly, I’m not a miracle worker (one day, guys. One day.), but there is an easy way to know what size you are: take measurements. I wrote up a blog post that tells you how to do it. Write down the crucial numbers (waist, hips and inseam) and go from there. American sizing (whether it’s 1, 3, 5, etc or 2, 4, 6) has turned into vanity sizing and, while there are some brands who use vanity sizing in the high-end realm (Current/Elliott, anyone?), it’s far fewer than their Western counterparts.
  2. Trust your instincts: You’re not comfortable wearing skinny jeans? Don’t buy ‘em. Not a fan of flares? Try a different cut. There are too many options for you to pigeon-hole yourself into something you’re not a fan of. Now, I’m not saying that you should avoid something just because it’s new and unfamiliar to you. That’s silly. What I am saying is that in the long run, you know what will work best for you. Here’s an example: I work at a company where I can wear jeans every day (I know, I’m really effing lucky!) but most people in the world don’t and, even on Casual Fridays, still have to stay a bit more dressed up. That makes buying a pair of super skinny distressed jeans a bit reckless. Of course, everyone needs weekend jeans… but I digress. A better option would be a dark wash trouser cut denim.
  3. Pay for quality: I know you’re thinking that you don’t have $150 to spend on a pair of jeans. Guess what? Neither do I. Here’s my little secret: I don’t EVER pay full price for a pair of jeans because unless you’re a hardcore denim-o-holic like me who looks at different lookbooks and gets sent information about new brands daily, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between last year’s and this year’s denim. It’s a marketing ploy, and virtually every brand puts at least 4-10 styles (at a bare minimum) on sale every season. They need to make room for their new stock, and you want jeans – it’s a win-win.

I’m not saying you should go and own as many pairs of jeans as I do (though I’m more than willing to help you on your way!), but denim shopping should be fun, not terrifying!

Me: PHEW!  Well I feel better about this already!  You said buying quality denim doesn’t have to break the bank.  So in your experience, where are the best places to find good, quality denim at non-astronomical prices?

There are some great sites to shop from… I frequent all (and I mean ALL) of the online sample sites for deals. When they have their Denim Blowouts, I tend to stock up. And because I never shop and pay full price, I’m a big proponent of SmartBargains and Overstock but, if I had a choice, I’d shop exclusively at independent boutiques. Places like Le Train Bleu have such an amazing selection of hard-to-find brands!

For girls who don’t quite know where to start, what brands do you recommend (Your fave!) that always hit the mark – in both sizing, and style?

Gah! How am I supposed to choose? I suppose that two of my personal favorites for myself (I’m a thinner hourglass figure, similar to Miss Birdie) are J Brand and James Jeans. They have great washes and such a fabulous range of cuts. Some of my most recommended brands? DL1961, Stitch’s, Denim Design Lab and AG Jeans.

I think it’s important to have an all around, “I could dress these up or down” pair of denim – especially if you’re one of those girls who struggles with what to wear for casual events.  What style do you think is the easiest to wear year round/for any occasion?

The easiest year-round style has to be the Straight Leg. You can cuff them up in the summer, wear them long and over boots in the winter… and they always look fabulous!

Yay!  I’m a huge fan of straight leg jeans.

Jaime’s advice is the most helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to denim.  Last year, I had the privilege of a denim consultation with Jaime who found me probably 5 or 6 links to some great denim finds.  She assessed my style,  noted my measurements and with her supreme denim knowledge, was able to tell me which jeans would fit the best, and fit into my lifestyle.  If you’re at all antsy about buying denim online, head over to Denim Debutante and send Jaime a note.  This girl has a straight up PASSION for denim and is always down to help you find your perfect pair.

Thank you so much, Jamie, for all your help and advice!