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We don’t want to imagine a world where denim jeans don’t exist. Considered a staple—read: necessary—item in our wardrobes (and probably yours, too), finding a good pair of jeans feels a lot like finding a lifelong friend. One that is supportive, comfortable, versatile, and, of course, best dressed. A pair of jeans can take you through the seasons and are the perfect clothing item to pair with virtually any top, sweater, jacket, and shoe. Dress them down with a classic white tee (another staple of ours) and pair of chic designer sneakers or go for a more sophisticated feel with a pair of heels and a blazer. Jeans can quite literally do no wrong in the world of styling and, although their popular cuts ebb and flow through the decades, denim never goes out of style.
Finding the best pair of jeans is something we want for everyone—because, once you do, it’s like the stars align. But, with so many designs available, narrowing it down to the best of the best can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why we went on a mission to find the best jeans out there, and enlisted some help from denim expert Christine Rucci and stylist Lilli Millhiser.
From iconic brands like Levi’s and Wrangler to tried-and-true styles like bootcut and flare, find our list of finalists, ahead.
Meet the Expert
- Christine Rucci is a denim expert and product development consultant based in New York. She owns a full-service design consultancy company called Godmother NYC specializing in denim and sportswear. Some clients include Belstaff, Draper James, Marc Jacobs, and Polo Ralph Lauren.
- Lilli Millhiser is a Brooklyn-based fashion stylist and consultant with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. Her clients include PORTER, Into the Gloss, and Oscar de la Renta, among others.
Best Overall: RE/DONE Comfort Stretch High Rise Stove Pipe
Who else recommends it? Forbes also picked the RE/DONE Comfort Stretch High Rise Stove Pipe.
The current cream of the crop when it comes to denim is none other than RE/DONE. While on the higher end when it comes to non-designer jeans, these will last a lifetime and the fit is spot-on. This high-rise style is inspired by ‘70s straight leg jeans and features a slightly cropped hem and is modernized with a hint of stretch, thanks to a hint of lycra spandex, for optimum comfort. These jeans are a great everyday pair of jeans that you’ll wear again and again, so the cost per wear makes them even more affordable.
Material: 77% cotton, 22% Tencel, 1% Lycra | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 27 inches | Rise: 11 inches | Closure: Button fly | Care: Machine wash cold and tumble dry low; dry clean
Best Budget: Banana Republic Factory High-Rise Dark Wash Slim Jean
One of our favorite finds is this super-affordable pair from Banana Republic Factory. Despite the low price point, these jeans look and feel high-end. Plus, the dark wash and sleek straight leg is a versatile style that can easily be dressed up or down. It also comes in a wide variety of sizes, including petite sizing, so you can find the perfect fit pretty effortlessly. Versatile, high-quality, and affordable—the dream.
Material: 67% cotton, 27% polyester, 5% recycled cotton, 1% elastane | Size Range: 00-35 (regular and petite) | Inseam: 26 inches (petite), 28 inches (regular) | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Designer: Khaite The Danielle Jean
If you have some cash to burn, may we suggest indulging in a pair by Khaite? Constructed from heavyweight non-stretch denim with natural-looking "hand-finished" distress marks and a faded wash, these designer jeans boast a relaxed style with a high-rise waist for a pair of everyday jeans that can be dressed up with a crisp button-up and heels or dressed down with your favorite sweater and sneakers. It's worth noting that these jeans run small, so it's recommended you size up.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 33 inches | Rise: 11.5-11.75 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Place in freezer overnight or handwash
Best Stretchy: Good American Always Fits Good Classic
Khloe Kardashian must know a thing or two about stretchy denim—and this pair proves it. If someone told us these are the jeans from “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” we wouldn’t be surprised (we know Good American was not around in 2005). According to the brand, this is “one-size-fits four,” meaning it’s bound to stay in your closet through any fluctuations. Constructed from a mix of recycled and regular cotton, elastane, and Elasterell-P (AKA polyester), these are the stretchiest and most form-fitting on the list.
Material: 86.5% cotton, 5% recycled cotton, 4.5% Elasterell-P, 4% elastane | Size Range: 00-32 | Inseam: 28 inches | Rise: 11.25 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out
Best High-Waist: Everlane The Way-High Jean
Everlane is known for its denim—you could say they have a passionate customer base in that regard. But it’s no surprise. Their jeans seem to hold their shape forever, are especially comfortable, and fit like a glove. The Way High Jean is exactly that: an ultra-high-rise style that is meant to accentuate your waist and elongate your legs. It comes in several colors and washes, plus they even offer tall sizing for those who are long-legged.
Material: 98% organic cotton, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-35 (regular and long) | Inseam: 27.5 inches (regular), 29.5 inches (long) | Rise: 12⅛ inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out; tumble dry low
Best Mom Jeans: Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans
Is there anything more classic than a pair of Levi’s 501s? We don’t think so. If you love your mom jeans—we certainly do—you can’t go wrong with these OGs. Made from 100 percent cotton, these so-called “mom jeans” are made to last and get better with every wear. And, with length options in addition to size options, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect fit.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 23-34| Inseam: 30 inches, 32 inches | Rise: 11⅛ inches | Closure: Button fly
Best Size Range: Universal Standard Seine High Rise Skinny Jeans
These best-selling high-waisted skinny jeans are crafted with the ideal fit in mind using invisible stretch, so you get ultra-comfortable wear with that classic denim feel. One reason why we love this pair of jeans is for the deep pockets—you need a good pocket with jeans—and the range of washes, so you can find a pair that feels most like you and your style.
Material: 73% cotton, 23% polyester, 4% elastane | Size Range: 00-40 (regular and tall) | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold with like colors and hang dry
Best Flared: We The Free Just Float On Flare Jeans
When we think of flare jeans, we think of the laid-back '70s-inspired ensembles from Free People. So, it’s no surprise that the brand makes our favorite pair of flared denim. These jeans were constructed with retro designs in mind and feature a raw bottom hem, giving us an effortless worn-in vintage feel.
Material: 22% polyester, 53% cotton, 23% rayon, 2% spandex | Size Range: 24-35 (short), 24-36 (regular) | Inseam: 31.5 inches, 33.5 inches | Rise: 11.5 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Vintage-Fit: SLVRLAKE London Jeans
When you invest in a good pair of denim jeans, you want to make sure they will last—not just in terms of quality, but in terms of style, too. One way to ensure a timeless appeal is to go with a classic design that has a bit of vintage flair. These jeans from SLVRLAKE feature a classic vintage high rise with a straight leg which we and Millhiser are a fan of. “The denim feels good, there isn’t a hint of stretch, and they’re a bit higher waisted than 501s, which I like,” Millhiser explains.
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elastane (varies by wash) | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 30.75 inches | Rise: 11.5 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Black: Wrangler Wrancher Dress Jean
When shopping for a pair of any type of jeans, you can’t go wrong with a classic brand like Wrangler. The Western denim brand has been making jeans since 1947 and their timeless designs and quality material is a reason why so many denim lovers have a pair in their wardrobe today. Wrangler makes our favorite pair of dress jeans (which technically isn't denim, but has a similar look), which anyone can slip into. Made from 100 percent woven polyester stretch twill, this classic is the perfect pair for a night on the town.
Material: 100% woven polyester stretch twill | Size Range: 28-50 (M) | Inseam: 29-34 inches | Rise: 10.5 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash
What Our Editors Say
"I heard a lot about these "jeans" in the fashion community, so I needed to try them out for myself. While you'll likely need to get them altered as I did, the low price point and outfit versatility balance out that slight inconvenience and added cost of taking them to the tailor. I absolutely love these pants and wear them out to dinner and to the office. I'm planning on buying other colors." —Erika Reals, Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce
Best Boyfriend: Artizia Denim Forum The Boyfriend High Rise Loose
Boyfriend jeans are where it's at for a cool, laid-back style that can be dressed up or down, no matter the occasion. When searching for the best pair of boyfriend jeans, we wanted a pair with a classic design that is flattering despite the looser fit. We love these high-rise jeans for their 100 percent organic cotton denim material, high rise, and timeless features. On top of that, they are set at a great price point for the quality, and the slouchy silhouette adds an extra layer of comfort.
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 28 inches | Rise: 12 inches | Closure: Button fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Wide Leg: G-Star Raw Deck Ultra-High Wide Leg Jeans
The '70s are back in so many ways and have made a splash on the denim scene with flared silhouettes. Another favorite '70s style is the wide-leg jean and these high-waisted ones from G-Star feel like a major throwback, but with a modern twist. Although popular in 1970s fashion, these wide-leg jeans were inspired by late 18th-century sailor clothing, giving these a bit of a utility feel.
Material: 71% organic cotton, 28% recycled polyester, 1% Lycra elastane (varies by wash) | Size Range: 23-36 | Inseam: 28, 30, 32, 34 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash inside out separately or with like colors; do not tumble dry
Best Ankle: Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Women’s Jeans
Ankle jeans come in all shapes but our favorite is the straight leg style, which gives off a more comfortable first feel (and who doesn’t want to be comfy?). These high-waisted straight ankle jeans from Levi’s are made from 99 percent cotton with a slight stretch. They have a slim fit on the waist, hip, and thigh area and become looser around the leg area for a relaxed feel.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Size Range: 24-32 | Inseam: 27 inches, 29 inches | Rise: 12 inches | Closure: Button fly | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Low Rise: Rag & Bone Dre Low Rise Slim Boyfriend Jeans
In the 2000s, low-rise jeans were a staple in every woman’s closet. And, now, they’re back. For a modern and classy take on the infamous low-rise jean, we love these boyfriend jeans from Rag & Bone. Featuring a 9-inch rise and made from mostly cotton (with a mix of elastomultiester and elastane for some stretch), these designer jeans boast a faded wash for that worn-in feel.
Material: 92% cotton, 6% elastomultiester, 2% elastane | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 30 inches | Rise: 9 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash, linen dry
Best Bootcut: Mother The Insider Cropped Bootcut Jeans
Worn by everyone from Meghan Markle to Kerry Washington, there’s a reason why MOTHER denim is considered to be a celebrity favorite—and the brand’s Insider cropped bootcut jeans are one of our absolute favorite styles. With a 10-inch rise, these bootcut jeans come in 16 different colors and washes.
Material: 92.5% cotton, 5% polyester, 2.5% elastane (varies by wash) | Size Range: 23-34 | Inseam: 26 inches | Rise: 10 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Skinny: Madewell High-Rise Skinny Jeans
When it comes to finding the best pair of skinny jeans, Madewell hits all of our marks—and their jeans are eco-friendly. Constructed from 57 percent post-consumer recycled cotton, these high-rise skinny jeans might be made of denim but they’re so stretchy and comfortable that they feel like yoga pants.
Material: 57% recycled cotton, 35% Tencel lyocell, 6% recycled polyester, 2% elastane | Size Range: 24-32 | Inseam: 28.5 inches | Rise: 10 inches | Closure: Button fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Straight-Leg: Abercrombie & Fitch 90s Ultra High Rise Straight Jeans
The internet can’t get enough of Abercrombie jeans and these '90s-inspired straight-leg jeans are one of our favorite styles. Designed in a range of sizes and lengths—making it even easier to find a pair that fits like a glove—these jeans are available in 15 different washes and have an added layer of stretch for maximum comfort. The criss-cross waistband adds a modern touch to the '90s trend.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% elastane | Size Range: 23-37 | Inseam: 26.5, 28.5, 30.5, 32.5 inches | Closure: Button fly | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out with like colors; tumble dry low
Best Maternity: Paige Maternity Verdugo Ankle
We swoon for Paige denim and these maternity jeans boast that same ultra-chic design we love. Made with maximum comfort in mind, these stretchy ankle jeans are made with a blend of rayon, cotton, polyester, and spandex and feature a contrast elastic waist trim that hugs the waist and stretches as the belly grows.
Material: 54% rayon, 23% cotton, 22% polyester, 1% spandex | Size Range: 24-32 | Inseam: 28 inches | Rise: 7 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold, line dry
Best Printed: Wrangler Wanderer 622 Jean
One reason we love jeans so much is because of their versatility. Not only do they come in a wide range of styles and washes, but you can find some in groovy prints, too. We love a bold, statement-making denim print and tend to lean toward more retro patterns. These printed jeans from Wrangler boast that classic '70s flare style with a flattering fit that hugs in all the right places.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 24-35 | Rise: 12 inches | Inseam: 30, 32, 34 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Pleated: 3x1 Rio Slouchy Cut Jeans
Whether you’re going for a laid-back, relaxed vibe or looking for a pair of jeans that dresses up nicely, pleated is the way to go. Inspired by trousers, these slouchy jeans from 3X1 are constructed from mid-weight, non-stretch denim (100 percent cotton) and feature a natural-looking faded wash with a raw-cut bottom hem and flattering pleated front.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 23-32 | Inseam: 29.5 inches | Rise: 13.5 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash cold
Best Barrel: Frame Ultra High Rise Barrel Jeans
Barrel jeans are two of our favorite styles wrapped up in one. The style itself features a slender waist and hip area with a wide leg that then tapers toward the bottom for a more straight feel. They’re ultra-chic and comfortable for many body types. Plus, they are crisp enough for a day at the office and laid-back enough for some weekend shopping. We love these from Frame for their excellent fit and mid-weight denim material that doesn’t lose its shape—which is important for a pair of barrel jeans. On top of that, one of the washes is made from 15 percent recycled cotton material, making them a more eco-friendly option, too.
Material: 85% cotton, 15% recycled cotton (varies by wash) | Size Range: 23-34 | Inseam: 27 inches | Rise: 11 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Distressed: Moussy Vintage MV Odessa Wide Straight Jeans
Your hunt for the best-distressed vintage jeans ends here. These distressed jeans might not be vintage per-say, but they have that perfectly worn-in feel that makes it look like you rummaged for them at your favorite thrift store. Made with 100 percent cotton and featuring a button fly, these wide straight jeans have a raw hem with added fringe for an even more distressed vibe.
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 23-31 | Inseam: 30 inches | Rise: 11.5 inches | Closure: Button fly | Care: Machine wash; dry flat or line dry
Best Cigarette: Gap Sky High Rise Vintage Slim Jeans
Known for their slim silhouette and straight-fitted leg, cigarette jeans are like elevated skinny jeans. When looking for the bed cigarette jean, we wanted something that had some stretch—after all, they are slim—with a laid-back vintage feel. Our top pick? These high-rise jeans from Gap. Fit (especially length) is ultra-important when it comes to cigarette silhouettes and these jeans come in regular, tall, and petite sizes and short, regular, and long inseams, making it possible to find the best fit.
Material: 87% cotton, 7% recycled cotton, 5% recycled polyester, 1% elastane | Size Range: 24-35 (in regular, tall, petite) | Inseam: 24.5, 27, and 31 inches | Rise: 12 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Carpenter: Dickie’s Straight Leg Carpenter Pant
Carpenter pants are one of this year’s trendiest styles and you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of Dickie’s. Available in a range of colors—including black, mustard, and dark green (our favorite)—these cotton twill carpenter pants feature a 12-inch rise with a zip fly and plenty of pockets.
Material: 99% cotton, 1% spandex | Size Range: 24-32 | Inseam: 27 inches | Rise: 12 inches | Closure: Button with zip fly | Care: Machine wash
Best Cuffed: Frame Le Piper Wide Cuff
In theory, you could cuff just about any pair of jeans; However, when searching for the best pair of cuffed jeans, we like to focus on styles designed specifically with the cuff in mind. These stovepipe straight leg jeans from Frame are designed with a flattering high waist and cropped straight leg with a cuff that is très chic.
Material: 85% cotton, 15% reused cotton | Size Range: 23-34 | Inseam: 26 inches | Rise: 11 inches | Care: Machine wash
What to Look for When Buying Jeans
“Fabric for me is key, it's the ‘premiere vision,’” says Rucci. “When I’m developing a jean, I have a sort of denim psychic ability to see it designed in my head. Whether choosing denim for my brand or a client’s collection, I instinctively know when it is the right cloth. I then look at what it's made of and that there are traceable or certified and branded fibers. I prefer denim fabrics with Tencel, Lycra, E3 Cotton, Hemp, and Cordura, as I know these fibers have been tested and traceable.”
“This refers to color, look, wash, and hand feel,” explains Rucci. “It's how most people shop, first we see the jeans (either online or in a store), then we touch... then we try on.” Jeans come in endless finishes—you can truly find any combination of color, wash, and style that you want these days.
“Sometimes the finish is not great or the fabric or color, but if the fit is good—most women will buy it if it makes your body look good,” says Rucci. “If those three things are good, then I buy the jeans.”
“I think most people want to feel like their jeans flatter them,” Millhiser suggests. “Most [of my] clients are looking for a high-rise, straight-leg jean that's a little longer, but if you have a short torso, for example, a high waist might not be best and something mid-rise will have the same effect. I find that a longer jean (without a heel) looks rather dumpy on me and doesn't do me any favors, so am liking something slightly cropped, but nothing as cropped as a couple of years ago.”
Factory refers to where the jeans are made, which has become important to Rucci personally. “I want to know where it's made and that it is made in an ethical, socio-economical, and sustainable way,” she details. “I care about the environment and the workers equally when buying jeans. I try not to buy online or from fast fashion [retailers]. I can honestly say I have not bought jeans online for over six years.” Rucci also suggests upcycling and repairing jeans rather than discarding them to avoid ending up in landfills. Before making a purchase, check the label and the brand and look for sustainable and branded fibers, she says.
"I tend to look to music, vintage, and street style for inspiration," explains Rucci. "I often get a feeling about two years before a trend hits and am always accurate. I often post this on my Instagram and feel validated when I see it in the stores and on people in the streets. For over two years I have been feeling workwear, utility, and performance denim and we are heading into that cycle."
What are jeans made of?
Traditionally, denim was made from 100 percent cotton, according to Rucci. Today, there are many different ways to develop denim. “Now it’s made with Tencel from trees, Lycra for stretch, E3 Cotton which is traceable, and even Cordura which is a type of nylon for durability,” she explains. “Over the past 10 years, denim mills and fiber companies have worked to clean up the jeans industry by recycling and developing sustainable, traceable, and low-carbon footprint denim. Also, many jeans manufacturers and laundries have moved to low-impact washes using biochemicals, less water, and even lasers.”
How often should you wash jeans?
Denim is a durable fabric that will typically hold up when washing it in a washing machine. That being said, you always want to check the care instructions for specific jeans as some have specific requirements, such as washing on cold, washing inside out, and even hand washing. Some jeans—especially those made from raw denim—can also be placed in the freezer to kill bacteria and clean.
How should jeans fit?
Jean fit is very personal as some might prefer a more snug fit and others go for loose and baggy. That being said, you want to be comfortable and don’t want to be in a position where you’re always reaching for your belt loops to pull your pants up. Jeans should fit comfortably around the waist without the need for a belt. Additionally, a well-fitted pair of jeans should not leave a back gap on the waistline.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism. From working in the fashion closet and interviewing designers at NYLON Magazine to now writing about the best style trends for various publications, Jessie researches and sources the best fashion finds. Jeans are a staple in Jessie’s wardrobe and she’s known to wear just about anything with her beloved pair of Levi’s Wedgie Jeans.
18 Of The Best Jeans For Women That Will Be The Staples Of Your Wardrobe. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-personal-shopper/2022/04/13/best-jeans-for-women/