Written by Naomi May
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From wide-leg to everyday classics, the denim arena is as polarising as they come. But to save you the hassle of trying and buying jeans that fall short (quite literally), we’ve found the best five denim brands that have converted a former denim hater.
Fashion might be in the middle of a denim daze thanks to endorsements from a stable of style stalwarts, but for many, the idea of being stationed in a suctioning pair of jeans is nothing short of a clothing catastrophe.
Because while the industry’s glitterati have made the case for mom jeans, dad jeans, indigo jeans and all but banished their skinny counterparts to the style sidelines, finding the ultimate, winning pair is no small feat.
While all manner of self-proclaimed form-fitting jeans have muscled their way into the arena of desire, I have not been able to find The One pair of jeans that make sense to me, or my wardrobe. I ache – yearn – for jeans that are delicious; the sort that are the sartorial equivalent of a Patty and Bun burger and fries combo: clings to the hips, and goes down a treat on the ‘gram.
Yet, thus far in my life, my jeans have failed me. They’ve let me down, they’ve fallen down and their ill-fitting form has made me feel down. It’s been a truly gravity-defying experience.
But post-lockdown, as the autumn/winter collections continue to usher in denim in all of its forms to the forefront of the style agenda, I’ve decided it’s time: time to dip my toe into the denim pool once more.
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to try 18 brands of jeans – running a gamut of price ranges – and I’ve narrowed them down to a quintet of truly sensational jeans, and that’s coming from a true denimphobe.
Best wide-leg jeans
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. I have a smaller waist than I do legs and that makes the act of finding jeans nearly impossible. That is until Copenhagen’s best-kept style secret, Remain Birger Christensen, crafted its Ariane jeans, which are nipped at the waist and flared on the leg. They ebb and flow in all of the right places, in the way that a jean has never done for me before.
In my mind, it would take a lot to convert me to the dark side (of denim, that is), but these inky-toned Ariane jeans made the transition easier than my former dress-loving self would’ve ever thought. On a day-to-day basis, I wear them with trainers, jumpers and statement-making outerwear, and once the sun sets, I whip them on with a slight kitten heel and a cinched-in blazer. They are the jeans of dreams and I’m not afraid to say that I stand among the converted.
Remain Birger Christensen’s Ariane wide-leg jeans are sadly now sold out, but Matches Fashion’s Raey Loon wide-leg jeans are a great alternative. You can shop them here, £115.
Best classic jeans
You remember the Levi’s 501 silhouette of your youth? With all of its nipped and tucked glory, they were the crème de la crème of classic jeans. But since the brand has rebranded them and, more importantly, their fit, they are no longer the 501s that we came to know and love. Unsurprisingly, there’s now a gaping hole in many a wardrobe across the country.
The solution isn’t to banish denim, but rather to turn your attentions to Agolde, the brand purveyed by Jerome Dahan, the high priest of modern denim, who’s also a co-founder for fellow denim diamonds 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity and Goldsign. The label’s 90s Pinch Waist jeans are the stuff that 501-shaped dreams are made of. The legs stop just above the ankle – serving as the perfect teaser for your footwear of choice – while the hips fit snuggly, like a sartorial cuddle. The only thing that differentiated them fully from the 501s I so loved is the waist, which defiantly gaped open (as is so often the case with jeans for me). However, the rest of the fit is so good that I refused to let the waist come between us. After all, it’s nothing that Sal, my trusty neighbourhood tailor, couldn’t see to with a quick stitch and fix.
Shop Agolde 90s Pinch Waist high-rise jeans at Net-a-Porter, £260.
Best comfortable jeans
If comfortable and jeans are two words that, in your vocabulary, have never been neighbours, then rest assured: you’re not alone. Jeans have rarely been comfortable for me either, instead insisting on squeezing, constricting and restricting. Which is precisely why Levi’s High Loose jeans came as a welcome surprise.
Not only are the slightly flared, high-waisted numbers a deliciously saturated blue colour, but they also fit like a glove. Which is to say that they are truly very, very comfortable. So comfortable in fact that I have started swapping my trusty loungewear out for my High Loose jeans (yes, really). My favourite way to wear them is with a colourful oversized cotton poplin shirt and chunky trainers or sandals. Don’t believe me? Just try them for yourself and watch as the compliments roll in.
Shop Levi’s High Loose jeans, £120.
Best party jeans
You know the feeling. The one that looks a little bit like a tug of war between what to wear each and every morning, and each and every evening. But while the mornings have started to look the same for many since WFH was implemented, the evenings are finally looking a little bit more familiar and like life BC.
Yet still, when the style pariahs float into your mind when getting dressed for an evening occasion, a pair of classic party jeans is a no-brainer. Have I ever found the perfect pair to party in? No, I haven’t. Until now. L’Agence is a Californian label that might have slipped under your radar so far, but its Ruth jeans are defiantly set on turning your attention firmly back to it.
They are skinny, without being cheugy. They are flared, without being puddle-shaped. They are crying out to be danced in with a simple T-shirt, a boxy blazer and some slinky heels. You can thank us later.
Shop L’Agence Ruth high-rise jeans at Revolve, £250.
Best everyday jeans
Jeans don’t get more everyday than DL1961’s Rachel jeans. I wanted to hate them, as I scoffed at bootcut jeans, but I didn’t and apparently my body didn’t either. Crafted with a slight stretch in the fabric, these indigo flares alone were enough to convince me of their virtues. They’re leg lengthening, comfortable enough to move and sit in and they look good with absolutely everything, come rain or shine.
In fact, the easiest brand to shortlist for this piece was DL1961, thanks to the Rachel jeans. Never has denim felt so easy, so accessible and, most importantly, so wearable.
Shop DL1961 Rachel flares, £225.
Images: courtesy of Frankie Hill.
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