Can you believe it’s September? As much as I love summer, I am ready for the change to-fall and warm clothes. Denim is always uppermost in my mind when I think of my fall wardrobe. Here in California it’s our uniform so much of the time, so I was excited that Cindy and Sarah wanted to do denim for our Signature Style series this month. I do get a lot of inquiries throughout the year from readers who want flattering jean recommendations. Hopefully this post will help and I’ll share my personal favorite brand and a few new discoveries for Fall 2021.
This year it looks like the straight leg is gaining more traction, and as women embrace more comfortable clothes after a year plus at home the momentum for them is just getting stronger. The challenge is finding the right pair that suits your body type. I prefer the straight legs that are cropped and have a more slim cut as a petite person. The ankle flair is also a strong second to the straight leg and that jean shows off your sneakers and booties. Wide legs and mom jeans are also trending, but you have to find what feels good and flatters you. I think we can all agree the skinny is slowly going out.
Before buying any jeans, I urge you to look at what you already own. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow the cotton to produce just one pair of denim jeans. The manufacturing processes also use toxic dyes. Many companies, especially those who manufacturers premium denim in the U.S., are using uprecycled cottons and less toxic chemicals and less water in manufacturing. Buy mindfully and consider denim from places like Crossroads Trading and other consignment stores that have great denim collections. Upcycling is what all the young people are doing, and we need to get onboard. I have found one of my coolest pairs of jeans that way.
Take some time and bring all your jeans out, try them on by a full length mirror and see what you still love. Keep only what feels and looks good. You can also have some altered to be ankle length or ankle flair, which is great with booties. If you’re brave, take a pair of sharp scissors and cut them to be ankle grazing if you want a change.
Assesing my jeans I have 12 pairs, including an almost 17 years old pair from Gap. I don’t know how it kept making the cut, but it’s a straight leg, mid-rise and no stretch classic pair. I would say most of my jeans last me at least 5-6 years and are a mix of Frame, Paige, Anthropologie, and a few other premium brands, and some found at consignment.
Right now the pair I love best is from Frame and I have had at them 6 years, and they still sell the style, Le Garcon . They feel great on and don’t have too much stretch, are slim at the lower leg, but not tight at the waist and hips.. That’s a great cut that is slimming, but doesn’t feel like a skinny jean. About a year or ago, I realized they would look more updated with the hem cut and a bit shorter so I carefully cut them.
Here I am wearing them back in 2016 on a trip to SFMoma..
Frame is considered premium denim, is made in California with higher standards and sustainable practices and materials. They have a section of extra sustainable styles- like the straight leg here (below left)and I especially love this slouch pair, (center), and this gorgeous pair made in Italy , (right.)
I also did a trip last weekend to Anthropologie to see what they have as I have bought a few of their house brand denim, Pilcro and like them. I tried three pairs and the Slim Boyfriend Jeans below, were my favorite. I bought these in regular, but they have petite, tall and plus sizes in these.
I appreciate that they are 32% recycled cotton which is good for the earth. If you’re on the short side like me, or are short-waisted, consider petite as the rise is 2.5 inches shorter, so they won’t feel like the waist is too high. The regular size has 9.5 inch rise, which wasn’t extreme. The gauze blouse is new from Cloth & Stone, one of the best brands. I loved this color for fall!
Another way to style these same jeans is with the cuffs pulled up instead of rolled. I especially like this look with boots. Try it if your jeans are usually rolled for a more structured look.
This rose cashmere sweater was another item I fell in love with at Anthro. I’m a sucker for florals.
Also by Pilcro, Anthro’s in house denim brand, is The Wanderer Jean, which I would call a painter’s pant back in the day, and are deemed ‘relaxed’ fit, but they also say ultra high rise. Those two don’t go together in my mind. Still, they are cute and new and will give a updated look to the wardrobe for sure. I’m still thinking about them.
This jean comes 3 different washes, and petite and plus sizes, and the cotton is from a special mill in Turkey that is dedicated to environmental practices. Many of the Anthro jeans are coming from places like this. Look at the details in the description before you buy!
I also tried the Selvedge Borrowed Boyfriend Jean by Pilcro and it’s made at a mill in Milan, which is called ‘the greenest mill in the blue world’ and does not use any toxins at all in their process, which can pollute waterways. I love that so much. It comes in tall, petite and plus and is what I would call an old school jean, not much stretch, but won’t sag on you and I think will soften up over time. It’s a classic straight leg and because of this special mill and cotton, this jean is a bit more expensive.
Speaking of cost for denim, an Instagram friend read I had my old Gap jeans and she remarked she still had her Guess jeans! Do you remember those? They were quite pricey back in the 80’s, like near $100. I remember saving for them. That was nearly 40 years ago. You know what’s remarkable about that? Costs of denim haven’t gone up much in 40 years. You can still walk into Gap and buy jeans for $50 or less. Is that a good thing? Not necessarily. Beware of cheap denim, the labor may be child labor or people working in horrible conditions for low wages and it may be made with polluting chemicals.
Since I called out Gap here, out of fairness I checked out the denim they did have that was made with their new Washwell program which saves millions of liters of water. No initiatives yet for the chemicals or information on factories and labor practices, but it’s something. The Mid-Rise Girlfriend was a decent jean with almost no stretch, but a classic look and unfitted leg. I think these had a lot of extra fabric in the hip area, so you can size down, but actually felt okay on and comes in petite and tall and run $48 (online), or $69 regular price in store.
I liked the wash and with their classic Gap Organic Button-up shirt button down you could do worse. The Deconstructed Mid-Rise Girlfriend (center), is also cute and I like the raw hem. High Rise Vintage Slim Jean (right), which wasn’t at my local Gap, but looks like a chic simple cut too.. All below are using the Washwell technology.
Gap has a lot to choose from, but still had a ton of ‘jeggings’ at my local store. I’m not sure why you would buy those, but they have truck loads. They could also give the store a good vacuum and clean the fitting room mirrors, but I digress..I was kind of saddened the brand is not being cared for like it once was.
In other news, Vogue just has an article that Old Navy will be the first retailer to integrate plus sizes into the regular women’s up to size 30. Old Navy already has done this and so you can shop for the denim in all sizes which will be helpful and more equitable as half of women in America are considered plus and now their sizes will be with all the others, not off in a corner.
J. Crew is also expanding their denim and has up to size 23- 37 in jeans. These Vintage Slim Jeans seen like a perfect straight leg look… I’ve been wearing their white jeans all summer and plan to continue.
Please share your musings on denim in the comments. Do you like the new straight legs or are you still a skinny jean person? What brands are your favorites and have you shopped thrift or vintage for upcycled styles? I’d love to hear.
For more inspiration and more ideas for to style denim, you can follow my Pinterest Board, Jean Love.
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