When shopping for jeans, how can you identify a high-quality pair? If you want jeans that last longer than a celebrity marriage, it’s essential to know how to spot superior-quality construction. And this can be found in designer brands as well as in some less-expensive jeans labels. Here’s a handy list to take along with you the next time you go jeans shopping, to help you to get more bang for your denim buck.
When you’re browsing a sales rack of jeans, get your hands on the fabric. Well-made jeans are made from strong, heavy denim, which feels different than a cheaper weave. (Just as with bed sheets, a high thread count is a sign of better quality fabric). These jeans may feel heavy and even a bit stiff when you first try them on, which can take some getting used to if you usually wear cheaper denim. Once you “break in” a heavier denim jean, though, it will conform better to your curves, giving you a customized fit not available from lower-end brands. Heavier denim should also last much longer, when cared for properly. When in doubt about the fabric, ask a sales person. You can also check the label for information.
Next time you go jeans shopping, check the stitching around hems, pockets and side seams. You’re looking for a good, heavy stitch that won’t pull, split or unravel under stress. Double-stitching (two rows of stitches placed close together) and chain-stitching (a looped stitch resembling the links of a chain) are both good signs that extra care went into making the jeans. A single row of stitches is fine too, if done with a thick and durable thread. If you’re not sure about the quality of a pair of jeans, do a little test by gently stretching them at the seams. If you see or hear the threads pulling apart, that’s a sign of low-quality construction.
The Stretch Factor
Stretch jeans can do wonders for the curvy figure. If like many women you prefer your jeans with a bit of stretch, there’s an easy trick that will help you spot good-quality. Even though stretchy jeans are made from fabric designed to pull and give, they should only stretch so far. (Otherwise, you’re getting into jeggings territory, best left to teenagers and off-duty fashion models). Check the jeans label for the percentage of Lycra or Spandex – you’re looking for 2% maximum. (As a general rule, one percent will give you just a hint of stretch for comfort, while two percent means a more giving fabric). Any more than that and you can expect the jeans to wear out (or “bag out”) before you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
Sometimes, the little details on a pair of jeans can help you figure out if they’re made to last. Certain details, such as copper buttons and rivets, are good signs that the brand has invested in making a well-constructed product. When it comes to design details, though, don’t get fooled. The knock-off brands have become expert in mimicking the styling of designer jeans. Contoured back pockets, for instance, can be found on cheap pairs and better brands alike. So don’t rely on details too heavily.
Price Isn’t Everything (But It’s a Good Sign)
When you’re learning about what makes jeans higher-quality, it can help to get an actual feel for what you’re looking for. Try on a few pairs of pricey, designer jeans, even if you don’t intend to buy an expensive pair. This should help you to notice some key differences between the higher-quality brands and jeans that are low-end. You can then take what you’ve learned and shop the mid-range jeans brands, with a better idea of what you’re looking for in a pair that deserves taking home.