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How much is too much to pay for a pair of jeans?

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 10.54.59 AM

I’m not gonna lie. $250.* I’m a freak for fit, and wear jeans more than anything else I own. And you?


*I will add that I do own a few pairs of Levis Curve ID jeans, which both fit great and do not cost anywhere near too much.ย 

Posted on March 13th, 2014 66 Comments

66 Responses

  1. ljchicago says:

    When my younger sister started buying premium denim, I thought it was a waste of money. When I tried them, I realized how wrong I was. If you wear them all the time and the cost per wear is reasonable, go for it!

  2. cs says:

    Yep, that sounds about right. I just purchased a pair of $70 jeans from Zara, cute wash and details. Even though I tried them on before buying, the fit is now driving me crazy, and the fabric stretches out. They were a waste of money. Should have kept to my old standards!

  3. Pip says:

    I cannot see spending $250 on a pair of jeans- ever. Unless, I win the lottery that is. But until such time, I have to think long and hard about spending even $70 on a pair.

  4. EA says:

    I wear jeans to work and in my private life so fit and quality are really important. I have paid $200-250 for a pair of jeans and I think it was a smart investment.

  5. Aimee says:

    I have seven pairs of Delia’s “Mallory” jeans in a variety of washes, and I wear jeans just about every day for work and for weekends. They fit me like a dream and retail for $50 – but since they run true to size, I buy them on eBay.

  6. Tammy says:

    I paid $170 for a pair of Paige denim jeans. I really like Miss Me, too, and can get them for $100. Both brands fit me well. Also like Current Elliott, but can’t afford the typical $220 price tag … so I wait for them to go on sale.

    I completely agree that if you find a pair that fits, price should not be a detractor with purchasing them.

    • Colette says:

      I have a pair of Paige jeans that I feel like I paid WAY too much for. They bag in minutes, the fabric is pilling (denim? Pilling?!?) and they are now my “laundry day” jeans.

      My upper limit is about $150. But they have to be AMAZING.

  7. Tammy says:

    Hey Kim: What brand is pair featured in photo with your piece referenced above?

  8. More than $300 is too much of jeans for me.

    Keep in mind, I am in Canada, where prices are higher than in the U.S.

    The ones I like the best however, are Lucky Brand jeans at $100.. they’re so soft and comfortable, I wish they came in a much higher rise.

  9. Kate says:

    I just buy $250 (retail) jeans at thrift stores. They’re usually in good shape but they’re cheap. I got a pair of Rag & Bone jeans for $10 once, and more recently a pair of black skinny J Brand jeans for $20. I wear them all the time and the color has really held on, unlike cheaper jeans, so they were totally worth the $20 to me.

  10. Tammy says:

    I wish many brands came in a much higher rise, save.spend.splurge. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Tammy says:

    Those R13s look amazing, Kim. Really cool.

  12. Turner says:

    I’m a cheapo so I would never try on a pair of jeans over $125 bc if I did and the fit was amazing, I’d buy it.

    What fit do you wear in the Levis? Their site confused me.

  13. edie says:

    Jeans have come such a long way in our lifetimes (!) For many of us they fall into the same category as regular pants, in that worn with a good shirt/jacket/sweater and boots, they are perfect (and perfectly acceptable) work-wear. It’s not really about going out to rope a steer or schlep to the supermarket. So, in that spirit (I wear jeans to work every day and a different sort of jeans on weekends), I think $200 is not unrealistic. I love J Brand, and the Maria high-rise (even though they are the villain behind the blue dye on my taupe suede boots), are my current favorites. Weekends it’s Rag & Bone Dre boyfriend jeans. It’s been an interesting saga with jeans, no? Nothing else quite like them.

  14. Beth says:

    I have a pair of skinny citizens and a pair of rag and bone. One blue, one black and they are pretty much all I wear. I wash them over and over again, or wear them for days without washing and they never fade and never stretch out. Truly remarkable.

  15. Ann says:

    While I’ve never spent that much on a pair of jeans, it makes much more sense to me to pay a lot for something I wear all the time, like jeans or bras, than on something I wear twice a year (like a cocktail dress). So, I have very nice everyday items, and try to get things I won’t wear often at consignment stores or the bargain rack.

  16. Dianne says:

    I have never paid more than $150 and I felt really guilty doing that. I try to keep under $100. I don’t bother trying on the really expensive ones. I don’t want to know how great they fit.

  17. Catbird Farm says:

    I have trouble with fit because I’m nearly 6′ tall and not curvy at all – no waist, no butt, no hips, no thighs. In the earlier days of premium denim, I found Seven for All Mankind jeans fit me so well that I’ve never tried any other brands since – Seven is all I wear, pretty much every day. They are consistent with sizing so I can now order online if I ever see a sale. But even at full price, one pair I have is over 10 years old and still in rotation so that’s value as far as I’m concerned. Are there other premium brands you all know of that are good for non-curvy figures?

    • Hannah says:

      Nudie makes unisex jeans, which sometimes fit non-curvy figures better.

    • LMM says:

      I really like Lucky Brand’s Charlie fit. I will caution you that only a few washes come in a long inseam (I’m 5’10” and all leg) but if you find them – outlets are a good place to find them even cheaper – they fit a less-curvy shape really, really well.

  18. Tammy says:

    Hey Turner: The Levi site directs you to pick what type body shape you are for jeans, that’s why it’s a bit confusing. Here’s the link:

  19. Hannah says:

    I don’t wear jeans that often, I really only have one pair that I wear a lot, Acne from almost 15 years ago which I didn’t pay even close to retail for. I have been known to spend 160 USD on a pair of Nudies for my husband, but they’re environmentally and socially responsible and I’m willing to pay for that.

  20. Viajera says:

    To me, the “should” question in fashion is more about labor relations and so forth. While I have never quite cottoned onto the “premium” denim thing, that may be because they don’t make my size and seem snobby. As when you don’t like someone because it seems like they don’t like you?

    But I wouldn’t put that on people who do buy them, because I agree that if you find something that fits, it’s more or less a minor miracle.

    And the heart of the matter, the mystique, is this fabric issue. Why do some stretch out and others don’t? I am quite confident that that *should not* account for a $150 price difference, but, I admit I am intrigued. It can’t just be the elastane percentage, because I already check labels. I suspect that the lower priced mfrs have just been cheaping out, b/c I have a pair of Levis from the early 90s that stretch out much less than newer ones.

    So, someone should get to the bottom of this.

    But meanwhile as long as they’re not made by enslaved children somewhere, I see nothing at all objectionable if you really like them. (I don’t need to repeat my tirades against fading…. at least this time, they faded the whole thing. Not sure if the fabric is really from Japan though. Is it vintage Japanese, or just meant to look vintage Japanese? What is that whole selvedge thing about? Or, do I not want to know?)

  21. Barchbo says:

    The most I have paid is $325 but I would say my current top is $200. I do wear jeans every day for work and play, so it’s totally worth it for the fit and quality. J Brand is my personal fave, but I wear Joe’s, Current/Elliott and I still love my True Religions.

  22. Sarah says:

    I’d be willing to pay for premium denim if I really did see a difference. After years of wearing less expensive jeans, I made a valiant effort to go for a more-expensive pair by trying on at least a dozen at Barney’s and dutifully buying the one the sales clerk helped me choose. They are Citizens of Humanity and they are all right, but I honestly don’t like them any better than my cheap jeans–my most favorites being a pair from H&M, though I have also had J Crew, Gap, and even Forver 21 denim that I’ve been happy with.

    Still, I don’t regret my jeans splurge, because I had thought for so long that I was missing out on some mystical Holy Grail of jeansdom by steering clear of the expensive pairs. Now I feel confident that I’m not missing out on anything at all–except for spending big bucks just to buy some name.

  23. Mary says:

    I am a bean pole and while it’s never been an easy task finding jeans which fit, it has been nearly impossible since the advent of skinny jeans. Finally found the solution. Madewell. They don’t bag. Not even after fifty wears.

    • Viajera says:

      Holy mackerel!!! Jeans that don’t get saggy? What a hot tip — thank you. I’ve never tried those.

  24. anne says:

    i would pay any amount if i could find jeans that looked good. i have thighs that are wider than my hips, so neither boot cut (when they were in) nor skinny jeans are at all flattering. If i do find some that are halfway decent they stretch out and start falling off. Not a good look. It’s so frustrating. I’m now trying all the boyfriend jeans, but sometimes the pockets are so low – at 50 i don’t need that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Are there jeans out there that have a decent rise and are not skin tight from waist to knee? I’m considering Goldsign’s Mr. Right jeans…but don’t have my hopes up.

  25. Dana says:

    I love R13s but I buy them on clearance or used.

    I did spend more than $150 on some really lovely soft AGs, but that was a rare thing and looking back, probably not financially smart.

  26. Corrin says:

    I would happily shell out several hundred for a pair of plus size jeans that fit properly. Unfortunately, the options are woefully underwhelming.

  27. Anne says:

    No price is too high if one can afford it without having the lights turned off! ๐Ÿ™‚ But I have to admit to personally being unable to make myself pay more than $125 and even that seems slightly ridiculous. Is my age showing? I fear it is.

  28. Kate says:

    I really desperately wanted R13s – the ones I think you bought, with the dropped crotch and crossover fly. But yeah. Well above my denim ceiling. Which is …. I’m not sure where, at the mo. I’m so brutally hard to fit – short-waisted, with a big ass that’s all in back, which is a recipe for back gap, waistband pinch, and hip bags, all in the same pair of jeans.

    The ones I currently wear are mostly J Brand skinnies… and they all need replacing – a few years old, thin in the crotch. But. When I bought all those, J Brands were running about $125, which at the time was breathtaking but doable. Now? I don’t see even the most basic ones for less than $180-200. And that… gah. FOR. JEANS. COME. ON.

    But I can’t fit into any of the more reasonably priced brands, at least not any of the many I’ve tried.

    Eh. I’m not that crazy about jeans anyhow; I don’t wear them that much and certainly don’t live in them.

  29. liz says:

    I think that is the very very most I would spend. I’m always looking for a good pair with my long legs and size 6 hips.

  30. Caroline says:

    I will pony up for j brand occasionally.. They really fit me the best.
    But I feel guilty in that I should be moving on to something else besides jeans.. What to, I have know idea…
    Open to suggestions…..

  31. Liz says:

    I don’t think anyone makes better jeans than Levis. The quality is great, they wear in perfectly, and you can always find a flattering pair regardless of your shape or size. You can easily find a pair of $80 Levis that look as good as that $450 pair.

  32. Jill says:

    I’ve paid about $130 for Lucky jeans. That’s it. When I was in high school (talk about age showing!) we used to buy mens Levi’s shrink-to-fits, which needed a fairly decent break-in period. But it’s what we all wore and they were very affordable.

    I love jeans. I wear jeans all the time. But I just can’t get my head (or my wallet) around $200 jeans. I much prefer to pay around $80. Even better if they’re on sale for $50 or so. I stuck with Gap and Levi’s for a long time before “splurging” on the Lucky brand. Fortunately they fit me well so I keep coming back as Gap sort of fell apart from their days as a denim destination and most of the Levi’s that I can find seem really cheaply made anymore…

    • Viajera says:

      I still look at Gap because of the labor thing. I find the quality highly variable too, but sometimes one gets lucky.

  33. Jozelle says:

    I will pay up to $200 for a pair of jeans because I know I will wear them almost every day. With the better quality jeans, they seem to hold their shape better so I do not wash them as often.
    I have had a few pairs of True Religion and Paige jeans for over 7 years and I still wear them on a regular basis.
    That being said, I found a pair of what would have been a $260 pair of True Religion jeans at a second hand store for $20 and I LOVE them.

    • Kimberly says:

      Gah! Paige! I wish…..So cute–always–but with the short-pinchy-crotch! I cannot!

      • Jozelle says:

        It must help that I am short so Paige fit me perfectly.
        Just realized this morning that my 18 year old took five pairs of jeans out of my closet to wear last week, so I must be doing something right on the style frontโ€ฆ Or I’m wearing jeans that are to young for meโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Kay Erikson says:

    I paid 300 dollars for a pair of current Elliot boyfriend jeans from barneys 6 years ago. I loved them and I am still wearing them. the first time I wore them this really cool mom in my sons kindergarten class said, great jeans! Considering I was about. 160lbs (and 5’5) I think think they were worth every penny. I finally felt like one of the cool girls in my town.
    Since then I have learned to how to get my pricey current Elliot’s on eBay for around 30 bucks. Usually from some one who has more money than I do and can afford to buy them from barneys full price then sell them when they are to the next big thing.

  35. y.k. says:

    I am willing to pay a ton on all kinds of clothes/shoes but the $15 levis from cosco I bought 3 ? 4? Yrs ago fit me best, they are called tilt and have a low rise in front and high in the back. I know. Cosco.

    • Viajera says:

      I have some levis that are 542 I think, also called tilt, which are flared, which would have been perfect if they didn’t stretch out in the a** within a half hour. Total bummer. I think I even tried shrinking them, no luck. (I know you aren’t supposed to put lycra in the dryer but I did anyway.)

  36. Jaimie says:

    I finally gave away my 7’s because the rise was too low. I wear (old) gap, and luckys and I’ve recently fallen in love with JBrand, Maria. There is a pair of jeans on The Line that cost $300 and look perfect but I will not go there.

  37. c.w. says:

    I spend whatever I have to for jeans that really, really, really fit since I mainly wear jeans seven days a week. Since I wear them so often the price per wear goes down significantly. I also tend to wear the same jeans over and over and over. Right now it’s between a few pair of AG Jeans (the Stevie Ankle) and a pair of Red Engine boyfriend jeans I bought at the high end boutique, By George, at one of their big sales.

    The Red Engine brand is also carried by Garnet Hill. It’s a brand I wasn’t familiar with, but the sales lady at By George said they were popular because of the slouchy fit. And they do have that perfect (for my body) slouch fit. I love them.

  38. Katie says:

    Mostly I wear Gap jeans that I get on sale for under $30. Gap jeans fit me well. Then I have a couple of Joe’s and J Brand that were $175-180. I plan to try Madewell for my next pair.

    Jeans are up there with bras and bathing suits as things I dread buying. I was recently at a Lucky store, and the poor employee, a young guy, had to listen to me complain to my friend that my ass looked fat.

  39. tamara says:

    ahhh, more kryptonite…the more intriguing question is, how many pair of jeans does one woman need? and who is willing to reveal their number?

    • KimFrance says:

      I am far too ashamed to reveal mine. And I just did a *major* edit.

      • Tamara says:

        We’ll move over because I am in the same closet….I too, recently did a major edit and yet I still hang my head in shame…(as I contemplate yet another pair…)

  40. Agreed. I like to keep in under $200. But I’d likely go as high as $250. For me fabric, cut, design details, and being made in the USA are a must. I don’t have time to mess around with subpar denim anymore.

  41. Jessica says:

    I am lucky that the Gap Skimmer jeans fit me perfectly and are nice and cheap. But I have spent up to $250 on jeans. I feel like I can justify this because I literally wear them every single day.

  42. Donna says:

    I have always had a hard time finding jeans that fit, because my hips are so much larger than my waist. I always have a gap in the back, always. Once when NYDJ first came out I tried on a pair and they actually fit! I was so happy I paid 100.00 for them. That is the most I ever paid for a pair. I’ve tried on so many that I’ve pretty much given up on finding ones that fit. I just wear denim leggings now.

  43. Amy in StL says:

    How often do you wear a pair of jeans before you wash them? (assuming nothing gross happened that day) I have people in my office who wash them every wear, and I have to admit I wash them only when I’ve spilled something on them.

  44. Dawn says:

    I have spent up to $170 on jeans and those are the pair I never wear. They hang in my closet mocking me. I happen to love Gap long and lean, but only with heels, and gap jean leggings fit nice as well. J Brand looks great, but I’m hesitant to spend over $200 on a pair of jeans. Oh and Kim France, thank you for this site. I just found it and am so happy!

  45. Lynn in Tucson says:

    I thought Lucky would be my go-to (especially after finding them at Costco); I wore them ’til they had holes in the knees. But then they changed the fabric and I can’t stand my current pair. They stretch out, they don’t get soft….

    $100 was my ceiling until I tried on jeans (“Baby Boot”) at a CAbi show. They fit me like a dream, the fabric is divine…. I wish they had more colors and styles but there will be more in my future.