Bargain vs Premium Denim-The importance of denim quality

This post is by Christina from Profresh Style

You’re online shopping and you’ve got a couple tabs open. You’ve got a few fast-fashion websites open and a couple higher-end websites too. You’re trying to decide where to buy jeans. You’ve got the $20 jeans with all “bells and whistles”  and another pair of jeans for $165 made with high quality fabric and processed to fit your body perfectly. Which do you choose?

It’s always a big debate. Do you buy the bargain jeans or the premium jeans? But have you ever analyzed why you’re buying what you’re buying?

Case in point: Before I was a denim specialist, I knew nothing about denim. I bought my inexpensive $20 jeans and I wasn’t ever happy. Which in turn, I started hating denim. It gave me “dooky booty” (“dooky booty”-a reference I use to refer to saggy jeans in the rear portion of your body), it gave me muffin top, it would dye my skin blue, and the like. Once I learned how denim jeans were created and what it takes and why they are more expensive, I was sold.

Jeans should be a staple in any woman’s closet. It’s one of the most basic pieces you could own but it’s totally worthless if you have jeans that don’t fit you correctly due to poor craftsmanship.

Here are some tips to knowing what’s quality denim:

  • If you’re the stretch type, find denim with 2% elastane or 2% Lycra like these Hudson Mid Rise Boot Cut Jeans. The jean will expand with your body without stretching out and then, come back together a bit after being taken off. Also, jeans with at least 20% polyurethane will give you that “snap-back”. It will stretch out and come back together, almost better than denim with elastane or lycra.  For those who prefer a rigid denim (without stretch), beware of your jeans becoming loose. They won’t retain shape as best as jeans with a bit of stretch. However, if you buy a size down, you’ll have a better chance at still loving the way you look in rigid jeans.
  • If you have an opportunity to look at the denim closely (most online sites have zoom. USE IT!), look at the grains in the denim. Denim that has thin, vertical lines are more flattering on a figure when on but the grain doesn’t retain shape as best. Denim with a crisscross grain like these Current/Elliott Ankle Legging Jean (which is usually used in Italian denim) is a higher quality because it expands with your movement and comes together again. It’s like bindings.
  • Price isn’t always a determinant of what’s quality. Get the facts about the denim you’re interested in. Ask questions like: “How was the denim washed? (Potassium or bleach)”, “What kind of denim was used? (Ramie, Italian, etc)”, “How do I wash this particular jean?”. In order to love your denim, you’ve got to know the facts. It’s like a relationship. In order to care about the person, you’ve got to know them first.
  • Don’t get carried away. If you want your jeans to last you forever, buy jeans that look long-lasting. Usually denim with slashing, acid-rinsed, shredding, doesn’t always withstand the test of time. Buying a good quality, dark-rinse, appropriate cut jean, will be your best investment. My favorite by far are the Anlo Stella High-Rise Trouser jean. I love anything classic and with polyurethane.

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  1. August 27, 2010 / 9:32 am

    i used to think that all jeans were the same too ! I kept buying zara and forever21 jeans.. and i always had this “crotch” effect and the saggy butt too..
    then one time I finally tried my first pair of designer jeans (seven and true religion at that time).. from there I realized that expensive jeans ARE different !

    they look same to the human eye, but they look different when worn !
    im glad you tackled this issue 🙂

    i only buy zara/forever21 denim when it comes to the trendy designs like the shredded, panelled, etc.. but for classic blue jeans, i go for the splurge 🙂

  2. Jen
    August 27, 2010 / 11:10 am

    If I could actually find premium denim “processed to fit [my] body perfectly”, I would happily buy them. 5′ 1″ hourglasses are no one’s favored customer. So I’m stuck in the land of ill-fitting Levi’s that at least come in petites and can accomodate my ass.

    A post about what denim brands are suited for particular body types would be a godsend.

  3. August 27, 2010 / 11:13 am

    I’ve been wearing stretch jeans for over 7 years and never went back. I aim for 3-4% stretch, preferably 2-way stretch.

  4. August 27, 2010 / 8:01 pm

    I am learning so much from your extremely informative blog posts!! Thanks again!

  5. lazypadawan
    August 27, 2010 / 8:03 pm

    Premium denim actually feels good on your skin. Cheapo denim feels like sandpaper.

  6. lazypadawan
    August 27, 2010 / 8:08 pm

    Jen, I hear ya. I used to be a size 16…you’re nobody’s favored customer either. Have you tried Paige Premium Denim’s petites? I’d give the Hollywood Hills or Hidden Hills a shot.

  7. August 28, 2010 / 5:10 am

    I have a feeling quality denim was a lot more common way back when and there wasn’t so much danger of buying crappy jeans… there’s so many vintage jeans that are still in great shape today but you have to wonder how all the chainstore denim will look in 50 years.. or if it will even be around…
    I just posted on jeans that must be about 35 years old, have a look if you like!

  8. Jen
    August 28, 2010 / 6:46 am

    Thanks, lazypadawan! I’ll keep my eye open for those.

  9. August 28, 2010 / 1:28 pm

    Wow guys! Loving all this feedback!!

    @jen-Hey girl. Did you check out my post on the perfect fit? Check it out here It doesn’t neccessarily address petite. Although, I do address it in a comment for another reader!

    @Michelle-I totally agree. I feel it’s fine to buy trendy denim for cheap because who cares if you only wore it twice? However, buying a good quality trendy denim that you KNOW you’ll wear quite often is worth the investment.

    @fourthdaughter- What a great post on the boyfriend jean! I’m digging the piping on the inside seam! I, too, love vintage denim. However, the fit isn’t always quite right which is why I always end up cutting them for a high-waist denim short! HAHA.

    @tami- WOW! I haven’t found any denim with that much stretch! Any recs?

    Thanks again guys for commenting!

  10. August 31, 2010 / 3:51 am

    eye opener!


  11. October 3, 2011 / 4:25 pm

    Howdy, firstly: pretty blog-design! Could you please explain what theme you’re using? That would be very marvelous..thank you very much! 🙂 Back to the topic: have been looking on Bing for a long time for a column on that, finally found really many useful and well presented information on your blog. Since it’s already a bit older, are there any updates on that topic? Have looked deeply but couldn’t find anything. Can someone point me to the related post and/or archive? Or maybe someone some up-to-date informations or more of this? Any help will be deeply appreciated! Thanks again for this cool post and any (hopefully future) hints. PS: some help via eMail will be appraciated too, but I’ll of course check here again. Site bookmarked and waiting for future updates! 🙂

  12. john
    December 6, 2011 / 10:12 am

    the problem i’m having buying jeans is that the cheaper jeans seem to be made out of the same thin denim as the expensive ones. does thin material mean cheap material?

  13. June 8, 2012 / 1:31 am

    Great post, thoroughly enjoyed reading it! 🙂


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