For February’s Signature Style Cindy and I are tacking the always popular question of what jeans to buy. Everyone has their favorites and we all have different bodies, so I hope today will be helpful to all of us to source some of what actually works and also share the latest denim trends!
Two weeks ago, I asked readers what are you favorites that work. So many of you sent me notes and left comments with those tips, I hit the stores last week and it was eye-opening when you are only focusing one one thing. I recommend doing that when shopping for denim.
I have a love affair of sorts with denim being a native Californian. Jeans are our uniform and I can’t remember a time they weren’t my go-to pant. My mom especially was a jeans gal and growing up in the 1970’s I can still see her in her flared leg blue jeans and blouses. I remember those jeans being wide and high waisted, but back then, all jeans were!
The world has shifted in the past few years, and denim trends are also going through a sea change. After pandemic years of living in our comfy home clothes, jeans have followed suit and taken a leap to the wider side. There are endless fun variations right now. There are flare, wide, bootcut, barrel leg, puddled jean, utility and cargo jeans.. you really can’t choose the wrong thing, but your denim will look fresh and current if you opt for longer and wider.
I made a mood board for February and March with jeans and denim tones for my office..Some of the looks that are inspiring me in fashion and home..
Two years ago when the high waisted jeans were suddenly everywhere I was upset, as the pairs I tried really DID NOT work for short waisted 5’4 me in any way. Fast forward to now and shockingly most of my jeans are now in mid-to high waist. I just didn’t try enough pairs originally. You don’t know what’s out there until you try more brands .
The skinny and tight jeans we’ve tolerated in the past decade, have really truly died. I’m not saying you can’t keep a skinny jean and wear it if you like, but if you want to look current, a flattering and well fitting straight leg is a nice option for the skinny lover. The thing is, once you flirt with the straight leg and then revisit the skinny, they feel a bit like a tourniquet . You can still wear a crop jean, which is my favorite in warmer months, but opt for pairs that graze the ankle or right above it, rather than hit the calf. Another option is the culotte looking cropped flare.. These are a pretty choice for warmer months.
Some of the more recent denim looks that inspire me..
So let me share what I’ve been up to the past week or so, and the stores I visited.
My Jean Diaries
If you are not familiar with it, Evereve is a smaller curated store that originated in the midwest and is great as it focus is on casual wear for women, which tends to be heavy on jeans and denim brands. I have visited the fairly new branch in Town & Country in Palo Alto, and had a gift card, so headed there to check out all things jeans. Maybe it was pre-spring, but this store sadly had nothing that works for me. Their own brand is at a good price, but the tops and jeans just aren’t great. I can’t figure out why. I think it has to do with the fabric quality and also the fit is off on many of their pieces.
I did try about 12 pairs of jeans, most were too high, heavy and uncomfortable. This Paige pair was the closest I got to fitting well, but I just felt like they were making me look wider than usual. I also liked the AGOLDE Kye mid-rise straight leg crop ( full length on me), but have a similar pair.
Maybe it was the top I was trying that didn’t work.. Could be they had very few jeans in 27/28, but online they have a beautiful collection.
I’m hoping it was an off day. A new Evereve is coming to Santana Row and I will absolutely go back and check out the jeans again. Pros: This store has so many cute and casual pieces that fit the California lifestyle. The stores are lovely with the nicest dressing rooms and super helpful sales staff. I like the small curated store with stylish shoes too. If you hate the mall, this store is for you.
I thought I’d give Nordstrom Rack a chance as I had a return there. If you’re serious about new jeans, this place may be more work than it’s worth. I find The Rack to be best when you have nothing in mind and are open to whatever catches your fancy.
There are oodles of racks with jeans by brands (helpful), but to be frank, this place is like the island of misfit jeans. Jeans end up there because they are last season, but also because they did not sell due to poor fit or sizing, so be aware of that.
In the name of research I took a grocery cart load of jeans into the dressing rooms. Have they shrunk them like airplane seats? ( I hate feeling confined.) There is no luxury feel shopping here, but then you are supposedly saving money, but how much?
First up I tried Levi’s that everyone raved about. The options for me were way long – like by a foot or more and way small. I found most options at the Rack were oddly sized. Most pants were either too low or high in the rise, like above. Yikes. It was enough to give up and go home. I needed a turkey sandwich. ( Possibly part of my problem.)
I had one last pair to try of Madewell Stovepipe mid rise dark wash. Shockingly, they worked. Loved the fabric and the slightly bunched up hem with my sneakers made me feel young and hip. I grabbed them and hit the check out after schlepping my 35 other pairs out of the teeny room. Time spent 2 hours = 1 decent pair. Takeaway – next time go straight to Madewell instead and also look for same jean style and size online for more options.
II hate our Zara as it is grimy with a gross escalator never cleaned and often feels like a bargain basement with racks lined up, so I shopped online instead for the first time ever. I know it can be considered a fast fashion brand, but they claim the jeans and other items are sustainable. I picked an oversized pair, a Chanel look jacket, sweater and a cool retro tan sneaker. Surprisingly everything came in two days with regular free shipping and was wrapped and folded in beautiful tissue with stickers that made it look like a high end boutique.
Sadly, as I night have suspected, everything fit poorly. The denim huge and awful. Not even in a cute oversized way. The sneakers were great though and give a updated feel to my spring jeans. Takeaway- Zara is a no go for basics like denim unless you are 19 and can also decipher the Euro jean sizing. Maybe good for an occasional shoe to update things. Mail order is less painful than actually shopping there.
If you need options, nothing better than the old fashion department store, and Nordstrom has people who know their merchandise, and what works for your body type. If you need a lot of help, you can always make an appointment with their personal shoppers who will bring all kinds of sizes and styles and do the legwork for you free of charge if you have a Nordstrom card. With jeans, this may be worth it.
Nordstrom has all the brands, but so many of you liked KUT from the Kloth jeans, and they carry a huge selection them so I concentrated on them. KUT has options in mid-rise and a reasonable high rise, which I love being a short waister. Their price point tends to top out at $99. Pros: their comfort, length options and rise.
I came home with the KUT Kelsey Fab Ab High Waist Ankle Flair. (I’m linking to the KUT website as Nordy’s sold out of these.) The Fab Ab versions of their jeans have smooth front pocket to make the stomach look flatter. These feel like a high mid-rise, hitting me at the natural waist. At 5’4 they say ankle, but reach the top of my shoes in a size 6, which is perfect. The fabric is soft and comfy, and bonus, does not stretch out. This is a great basic updated jean.
I also tried on a pair of KUT Rachel white jeans that had a relaxed fit and a thicker fabric, which is just what you want for white jeans. I love the unexpected look of white jeans in winter with sweaters and coats.
I had to also check out Wit & Wisdom brand while at Nordstrom as this brand was raved about by several people. This brand is new to me, but Nordstrom has racks and racks of their jeans. Their most popular is their ‘Ab’solution jeans that have a mesh panel to ‘mold and hold’ you in. Many of the styles are great for a curvy gals who needs a rise that accommodates curves, but doesn’t leave a gaping waistband.
For short-wasted peeps like me two styles worked. This one left in a ‘Tacked cuff’ style , and the Luxe Touch High Rise Vintage Skinny right. They hold you in and have stretch, but comfort is high in both styles. My issue was the zipper kept coming down in the skinny pant, but I can see why they are popular. Both pairs almost feel like a legging, with a LOT of stretch. Pros: This brand has some well designed jeans for all body shapes and comfort level is high, price point is under $70-$80s.
Lastly, I made a stop at Anthro in my town of Los Gatos. Our store is smaller than most, but I was pleasantly surprised. I tried Pilcro denim which is their own house brand. First up was The Yaya mid-crop jean. I tried this in a 28 regular in a dark wash and it is a nice quality denim that felt good on and reached full length for me and hit right at the natural waist ( just above the belly button.) This jean also comes in Plus, Tall, and Petite and is $148. ( I love this olive green Cloth & Stone shirt with a small puff sleeve with it.)
Anthropologie has some of the newer denim shapes and instead of trying another of the same style I ventured into unknown territory and gave the barrel jean and the cargo jeans a try for research purposes.
The Pilcro Heritage Mid- Rise Barrel Jean is one of the hot jeans now and fun. I tried it on and never expected to like it- or buy it! This jean is a blast. I tried a 28 regular and it felt right not too tight. This material does not stretch and it comes in plus, tall and petite. If you want to have some fun with your look, this will shake things up.
It will be cute with sandals and a tank in summer too. To balance the silhouette try more fitted or cropped tops. The small jacket will look great and a cropped sweater. I think these work for all body shapes and you do not have to worry if these make you look flattering in the backside because they fit and look like a skirt !! This is not a sexy jean, butt rather a cool California gal jean. Not sure if I qualify, but I’ll try and fake it with these!
I bought this cutwork blouse which is shorter and is unexpected with with the jeans and my sneakers. I also like a ballet flat with them. I love the mix of a feminine top with the funky jean.
Anthro also just came out with a patchwork version of this jean and it’s in their spring catalog and wildly popular and going fast..and then there is the white embroidered version!! Adorable for spring. Also in love with this cool pair.
Pilcro makes a best-selling cargo jean called The Wanderer. It’s very popular because the jean fits well, but has a relaxed look without being saggy. I fell in love with the deep pockets and the rolled hem is cute with a sneaker or a sandal. I sized down to a 27 in these (and they come in all the sizing options which is so nice about Pilcro and a lot of Anthropologie clothes.) I tried it out with boots, sneakers and loafers. All work. The Anthro girls told me this is their favorite jean and pant. (The iris blue blouse here.)
By the way, Anthropolgie is having a jean recycling event until April 30th. Bring in your jeans and get $20 off any pair over $100.
Other denim brands to consider…
Under the radar and excellent are AYR jeans made in California. I wrote about the Pop Jean which I bought last year and is the best quality denim I’ve ever had. The fabric is soft and the perfect amount of comfort without being too tight and a day of wearing these does not make them stretch out. They feel almost custom made to my shape. Of all my jeans, these are the ones I get the most questions and compliments on. AYR does a small number of styles and does it well.
I am wearing the Pop below in 27 with the 27 inseam. AYR has options of inseam length and this jean also comes with a finished hem and other shades of blue.
I would love to order one of these two pairs in the future…. The La La ,a straight leg that comes in 2 colors and lengths, and The Secret Sauce in five colors including this great black denim called Date Night.
I have three pairs of Madewell Jeans and I think they are made well! But seriously though, they have so many options for body types. I have two kick out flair pairs, which really work for a lot of looks and shoes. Madewell has a good Denim Fit Guide to tell if you should be wearing a jean for curvy gals or something else. It’s very helpful to find the right fit and they do have something for everyone.
The drawstring jean was suggested by my friend Katherine who lives in Arizona. She was a California girl and didn’t want to give up the jeans, but wanted more comfort and a full-length pant. She found and loves these cute soft tencel jeans. I love the look and can see wearing these with a blouse and sandals this summer, or great for a holiday in warmer climes. I think they are on sale this week!
Also notable and cute.. These Point Sur loose straight jeans from J. Crew in two washes.
Agolde is another brand I have wanted to try that has a cult following. Check them out! They have a wonderful selection of styles.
If you missed it, these are all the pieces mentioned today..
I also want to give a shout out to one of my favorite local sources for denim, Bella James. I did not get a chance to get over there in the past two weeks, but they make it easy always having the most current jeans in many options and all the cute tops you want to wear with them! They are a one stop if you hate the mall and shopping. I love everything there! They are on Lincoln Avenue in cute Willow Glen in San Jose,and worth a trip if you haven’t been.
My advice after all this is to get out there, make a day of it. Do not wait until you NEED jeans for something. You never make good choice when you’re under a time constraint, or shopping for an event. Shop to find what works for and makes you feel and look good, and most importantly will make the clothes you already own look updated. I call this deliberate shopping with a mission and we make better choices when we are looking for specific thing rather than random shopping.
Wear comfy clothes and bring water and snacks. Take a lot of pairs into the fitting room-more than you ever would before. Take photos with your phone in the mirror and also of the tags and sizes, to remember what works, and look at later. If you can’t deal with the stores, order where there is free shipping and easy returning in multiple sizes and read the reviews.
You’ll thank yourself later when you have ready to go nice fitting jeans that look and feel great!
Now let’s go over to Cindy’s and see what she’s sharing …
Thanks for being here!
If you missed last month’s Signature Style-Athletic Wear you can read it here.
If you’d like to get an email when I publish, please subscribe to the blog here for a post in your inbox a few times a month and every Saturday for Weekend Meanderings.
Some links will generate a small commission here, which helps make this blog possible. Thanks so much for your support!