The goop Guide to Denim Everything
Finding the right pair of jeans is emotional. There’s the fit factor, the comfort factor, the do-these-make-my-butt-look-good factor—all made a touch more complicated by remote try-ons and tribulations. So what do you look for when you can’t touch, feel, wriggle, and zip?
For A.P.C.’s director of sales and communications, Sarah Crane, it comes down to three things: fabric, fit, and shape. “We don’t have to settle for uncomfortable jeans anymore,” she says. “It’s whatever makes you feel your best: Do you want to journey into the rigid side of things, or do you want a fabric that gets softer over time? Do you want something skinnier or wider? And then there’s low-rise, mid-rise, high-rise—what’s going to feel the best for your midsection?”
Ask Jill Guenza, Levi’s global VP of women’s design, and she’ll tell you that finding the right pair is as much about your personal values as it is about form. “I encourage people to look for sustainable fabrics,” she says. “Our new hemp fabric goes through a cottonized process that takes less water to produce than other alternative fibers and gives it a softer hand.” But ultimately, it’s about heart: “Do a little experimentation, be willing to try something new—you might have to try a few styles to get it right,” Guenza says.
As much as we’d like to ride out the rest of 2020 in stretchy shorts and sweatsuits, Crane is confident that our trusty blues aren’t going anywhere. “Denim is never dead,” she says. “It’s part of our DNA, and it’s going to keep reinventing itself, even as we dress more casually.”
Here, our A-to-Z guide to the classic denim styles you’re likely to encounter this fall. Happy reacquainting.
Somewhere between the nostalgia of bell bottoms and the irreverence of a ’90s straight-leg lives the bootcut. They’re flattering, sure, but they also leave leeway for whatever shoe situation you’ve got going on.
“We’re seeing this ’70s-via-’90s movement happening in a way that feels modern and fresh. Things are starting to loosen up a bit, jeans are getting longer, and people are embracing the idea of wanting to show off the curves and butt.”
A denim hybrid of sorts, these wide-legs have the same polish and magical leg-lengthening effect of trousers, but with the allure of a humble pair of kick-around jeans. These cuts can swing classic (clean white washes), edgy (frayed hems)—any way you want them, really.
“The Florence jean was inspired by denim I wore growing up in the ’70s. The fit and wash are incredibly versatile. You can style them with a silk blouse or a cotton tank—every approach is going to feel effortlessly cool.”
THE RELAXED FIT
The most low-key of the bunch, these relaxed shapes (rough-and-tough details are, in our opinion, the coolest way to ease into the style) are the right level of practical, in that they work with everything from your bum-around Birkenstocks to block-heeled boots. And with washes this good—and fits this laid-back—who needs sweats?
“You may get called out by your better half for going full handyman, but the bang-on mix of elegance and toughness makes these rugged, vintage-inspired painter pants a go-to—especially when you’re breaking out the boots for fall.”
With just the right amount of forgiving ease, these sculptural jeans are a new denim darling (note how the arclike shape bends out from your hip) that feels somehow sharper and more sophisticated than the rest.
“The way we do denim is very old-school. We work with some of the best Japanese mills to source our fabrics, which mold to your body over time to essentially create the story of you.”
The Hardcore Approach:
Go as long as possible without washing, and spot-treat as needed. (And if you’ve really put your denim through the wringer, soak in cold water with a few drops of clean detergent, rinse, and hang to dry.)
The Sustainable Approach:
Do as the A.P.C. team does: Dunk them in the ocean and let the salt water work its magic. (Sand scrubs are highly encouraged.) Then lay them in the sun to dry.
The Practical Approach:
Take Levi’s advice and turn your jeans inside out, toss them in the washer on a cold cycle, and hang to dry. Easy.
What was once contentiously dubbed the “divided skirt” when women wore it back in the ’30s has now been recast as one of the chicest shapes in the game. Culottes are distinctive enough to carry an outfit and more practical than any skirt, but with all of the safe-to-squat-bend-or-hop-on-a-beach-cruiser sensibility of jeans.
We can’t think of any jeans more alluring than a pair of sexy curve-skimmers that underscore the waist. Whether you prefer yours snug-fitting, stick-straight, or with ample air flow is your call—all we can say is these belly-button-grazers have legs.
“A lot of our denim concept was built on the idea of softness. We wanted to be able to wear jeans like the High Waisted Looker and still feel really comfortable.”
The good news: These tomboyish jeans have gone a long way toward establishing themselves as mainstays. The great news: On a scale of slouchy to baggy, there’s a boyfriend—with varying degrees of comfort—that works for all shapes and frames. Taking them home is easy. Breaking up with them? Hard.
Size up from your usual go-to and have your tailor nip in the waist—it’s a total game-changer for fit. Unsure on length? Take Levi’s approach and try chopping right above the ankle: “It’s a great universal inseam that works for bootcut, skinny jeans, and straight legs,” says Guenza. And if you want your jeans to maintain their OG look, MOTHER’s Lela Becker suggests asking your tailor to add back the original hem.
We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.