As a fashion editor, I like to think I know quite a lot about the coolest denim on the market, but of course it’s impossible for me to know firsthand which styles are really worth buying and which are just hype. So I tapped the best resource at my disposal—the fabulous PureWow editorial team—to find the absolute best jeans for women, according to our editors. Whether you’re petite, on a budget or just trying to decide what brand to try next, you can feel good knowing these 14 pairs come with the PureWow stamp of approval.
The 14 Best Jeans for Women According to Our Editors and Their Intense Love of Denim
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Our Top Picks at a Glance:
- Best Overall: Madewell Perfect Vintage Straight Jeans
- Best Skinny Jean: American Eagle Outfitters Ne(x)t Level High-Waist Jeggings
- Best Vintage Vibe: Agolde ‘90s Pinch Waist Jeans
- Best Raw Denim: Re/Done High-Rise Stove Pipe Jeans
- Best Wide Leg: AYR The Secret Sauce Jeans
- Best Flares: Old Navy High-Waist Wow Flare Jeans
- Best Baggy Jeans: Madewell Baggy Straight Jeans
- Best for Petites: Rag & Bone Dre Low-Rise Ankle Jeans
- Best for Tall Women: GAP High-Rise Kick Fit Jeans
- Most Splurge-Worthy: Mother High-Waisted Looker Jeans
- Best Cropped Skinny: Good American Good Legs Crop Jeans
- Best Masculine Cut: Levi’s 501 Original Fit Men’s Jeans
- Best Mid Rise: Old Navy Mid-Rise Boyfriend Jeans
- Comfiest: Warp + Weft NCE Wide-Leg Jeans
Both Dana Dickey, senior editor, and Roberta Fiorito, senior editor of branded content, are fans of this classic Madewell jean for everything from runs to the grocery store to date night. “These jeans are like a nice body hug with a high-waist that helps me remember my posture and guarantees I won’t accidentally reveal my backend real estate when I bend over,” says Dickey. They are made with one-percent elastane for a “comfort stretch” feel, which Dickey says makes the higher waist truly much more comfortable than raw denim styles. Plus, they’ve been designed with “magic pockets” that won’t bunch or bulk up in front, giving them a nice clean look that can work for just about any occasion. “These are my bopping-around-town to the farmers market jeans, but I've been known to slip on a pair of heels and silk top with them for a lunch date, too.” P.S. Fiorito suggests opting for the Petite length if you’re under 5’3” to ensure they hit at or above your ankle, no hemming required.
Best Skinny Jean
American Eagle Outfitters
Rachel Gulmi, operations director for branded content, and I are both huge fans of AEO’s jeggings because they look and feel like real denim, largely because they are made from real denim that’s been blended with three-percent elastane. So rather than feel like cheesy, denim-printed leggings, they feel like supremely well-fitting skinny jeans. “Yes, I know these are skinny jeans (aka not trendy anymore) and yes, I know they are technically called jeggings, but I promise they are not the leggings-that-look-like-jeans type of jeggings,” says Gulmi. “They’re so comfy and stretchy that they feel like a second skin. I’m basically always in jeans and a T-shirt and these are my go-to like 99-percent of the time.” Despite all that stretch, they don’t bag or sag, even if you wear them multiple times a week. But beyond comfort, both Gulmi and I love the inseam options—AEO offers x-short, short, regular, long and x-long lengths. So despite the nine-inch difference in our heights, we both own pairs that hit the exact right spot, no tailor necessary.
Best Vintage Vibe
Senior food editor Katherine Gillen typically likes to shop for vintage jeans, but it can be a very time-consuming effort. But this Agolde style (which is also a PureWow reader favorite) has that old-school vibe she loves without the hours spent scouring through racks of jeans. “They’re made from 100-percent cotton and have a button fly, so they’re sturdy and flattering but still feel soft,” she says. “And they get even softer the more you wear them.” They also come in a ton of different washes and are a staple style for the brand, meaning they’ll always be available (or restocking soon) should she decide to invest in another hue. She does, however, have one small complaint. “The vanity sizing is no joke and you’ll probably need to size down at least one to get the right fit. If you can, I strongly suggest ordering more than one size to try on at home if you can’t find them in a store nearby.” Petite folks may also find the 29 ½-inch inseam requires a bit of hemming.
Best Raw Denim
VP of branded content Angela Pares has two beloved styles she recommends, starting with this straight-leg style by Re/Done. Much like Gillen, Pares loves thrifting for old pairs of Levi’s, but time doesn’t always allow for extended vintage shopping trips. “Re/Done began with the original concept of taking apart vintage denim and reconstructing it into new fits and silhouettes—so it has the quality and feel of vintage denim, but is more likely to fit in with modern trends,” she explains. “My absolute favorite is the Stove Pipe—it’s the perfect straight-leg jean. It runs true to size, comes in so many different washes and although they’re marketed as ‘rigid,’ I’ve found they really soften over time for maximum comfort.” And with a 27-inch inseam, they’re just the right length so petite folks won’t need to hem the bottoms, and taller women won’t find they look comically cropped.
Best Wide Leg
The second must-have recommendation from Pares is this wide-leg style from AYR. Short for “all year round,” AYR is all about crafting the ultimate wardrobe basics you can wear, obviously, all year and for years to come. This wide-leg cut is definitely right on trend for 2022, but also won’t look like a bad ‘70s throwback should skinny jeans or boyfriend styles come to dominate our wardrobes once again. “I couldn’t be happier that wide-leg denim is back in style,” says Pares, “and I adore this pair because it comes in two inseam options, has an ultra-flattering high rise and is so comfortable you could sleep in it—honest.” Indeed, AYR recommends the regular inseam for those 5’7” or taller, and the short for anyone under 5’6”. As for waist sizing, Pares found going one size down from her usual was most comfortable, as they will stretch a bit with continuous wear.
At 5’11” tall, executive editor Candace Davison doesn’t always have the easiest time find jeans that are long enough to fit her frame, especially for trendier cuts. But Old Navy offers both Tall sizes and Long lengths on its Regular sizes (as well as Petite and Short sizes), so she can get the exact right fit. “The Long lengths have the same waist as the regular cut, so are better proportioned for those with long legs and shorter torsos, while the Tall sizes have a higher waist so those who are tall with long legs and a longer torso can still achieve that same fit as everyone else,” Davison explains. She loves that this allows her to jump in on the wide-leg denim revival without feeling like her jeans aren’t sitting quite right. “Plus there’s enough stretch that I feel super comfy from the moment I put them on all the way through to the end of the day.” They do have a bit of stretch, so she recommends going down one if you’re between sizes.
Best Baggy Jeans
Commerce editor Olivia Dubyak is constantly trying out new brands and styles of jeans, but found this Madewell pair really stood out from the pack. “I, like many other millennials, have an emotional attachment to my skinny jeans,” says Dubyak. “But unlike most other baggy styles I’ve tried, which always make my hips, waist and thighs look wider and swallow my shape, these jeans make my waist look smaller and my legs longer.” They are made from 100-percent cotton, but will stretch a bit throughout the day. That said, Dubyak says they run true to size, and that the size chart on Madewell’s website was super helpful when she was trying to determine what would fit her best given that she doesn’t usually shop baggier styles. “It's hard for me to get sizing right on the first try for denim, so I really appreciate the expertise and thoroughness of the brand's sizing chart. I think it's safe to say my skinnies are vacating their top spot in my drawer for this trendy pair...at least for now.”
Best for Petites
Rag & Bone
Editor in chief Jillian Quint highly recommends this Rag & Bone style for anyone who is sick of constricting their stomach in high-rise styles. “As a person with no waist, I’m so glad we don’t have to wear high-rise jeans all the time anymore,” she gushes. “I love that these are relaxed and modern—a happy medium for a millennial who wants to look contemporary, but secretly misses skinny jeans.” Don’t let yourself be scared off by the “low rise,” these aren’t the whale tail-baring jeans of the early aughts. They actually fit more like a mid rise, with enough fabric to fully cover your bum without cutting you off at the belly button, particularly for smaller frames like Quint, who often finds high-rise styles go far too high to be flattering or comfortable. The cropped length also hits just the right spot on those under 5’4”, so you won’t have to worry about hemming.
Best for Tall Women
“After spending too many years buying fancy shmancy, overpriced jeans I assumed were better because they were expensive, I revisited Gap, a staple of my youth, and it has since become my go-to,” admits Sarah Stiefvater, senior editor. “This pair in particular has everything you could want in a jean—the high-rise is comfortable and flattering, the slightly flared and cropped hem feels modern and fresh and the pitch black hue means they go with pretty much anything.” She also greatly appreciates the fact that they come in tall lengths, so even though they’re slightly cropped, they don’t look comically short on her 6’ tall frame. Add to that the fact that they cost well under $100 and you’ve got yourself a no-brainer, must-have pair of jeans. (Because the denim blend has a decent amount of stretch, you may want to consider going down a size, especially if you are between sizes.)
Mother denim has long been a favorite for celebrities like Meghan Markle, Olivia Wilde, Reese Witherspoon and J.Lo, and now it counts senior director of special projects and royals Rachel Bowie, too. “I think I’ve just ditched my forever favorite brand for good?!” she told me after recently testing a pair for a story on modernizing skinny jeans. “This denim fits like a dream and is worth the price. I'm 5’2” and definitely assumed you needed to be really tall and slender to pull them off, but that’s so not the case.” (Although she does admit, shorter women may find it necessary to hem them in order to have them hit the right spot.) “The fit nips and tucks in all the right places,” she raved, “while providing just the right amount of stretch to stay comfy. I feel like I can dress them up (especially with the darker wash) or down (I also wear them while chasing after my son). They're also really soft? Basically I want to live in them.”
Best Cropped Skinny
Commerce director Nicole Briese says these jeans are absolutely worth investing in, provided you correctly figure out the sizing. “The sizing on these is a little odd,” she says. “After reading a lot of reviews, I ordered one pair that turned out to be too small, then went up two sizes from what I would’ve guessed. But once I got it right, they turned out to be perfect!” The cotton-polyester-elastane blend offers a ton of stretch—which is why the sizing can be a bit tricky—and is specifically designed to hug your curves and provide some subtle shaping without sagging or feeling like shapewear. And while they do stretch out a bit after consistent wear, Briese says they have yet to give her that dreaded “baggy butt” situation, nor have they started to bag in the knees. As for finding your perfect size, Briese suggests going up from your usual by at least one (if not two) size. “I’m usually a 0 or 27, but have found a size 4 most comfortable for pretty much all Good American jeans.”
Best Masculine Cut
Sometimes the absolute best way to achieve that casual, loose “boyfriend” fit is by actually shopping the men’s section, and no men’s jean is more iconic than Levi’s 501. “They’re super comfy with a bit of a boxier fit than most women’s cuts,” says editorial assistant Delia Curtis. “And they lend themselves really well to edgier, masculine looks for those looking for an alternative to skinny jeans.” If you’re stressed about trying to figure out your sizing, Curtis says they actually find it more straightforward to choose a size in men’s jeans, since vanity sizing isn’t as prevalent. “The jeans’ sizes are listed in inches for men’s, so you just need to measure your waist and hips, whereas women’s sizing charts are almost always relative to the company instead of being a universal standard.” There are also eight inseam lengths to choose between, which is twice as many as any other pair of jeans on this list.
Best Mid Rise
As a fashion editor I’m always down to try whatever fun new silhouette is trending at the moment, but the jeans I return to over and over as my go-to between trends are this mid-rise Old Navy style. I have a short torso and frequently find that high-rise pants throw my proportions out of whack, but I have no desire to return to the low-rise denim of my youth either. This mid-rise cut hits in exactly the right spot to make me feel like I’m not letting my belly and butt crack hang out, nor am I at risk of having my waistband and my bra band come in contact. And while they’re marketed as boyfriend jeans, I think they fit more like a straight-leg, with more room than a skinny jean but not so much as to look baggy. They also come in Tall and Petite lengths.
Warp + Weft
Warp + Weft makes some of the comfiest jeans I’ve ever owned, but this wide-leg cut is definitely my favorite from the brand. I always get complemented on them, and folks are super surprised when I tell them they cost under 100 bucks. The high waist helps nip in my torso, and the generously-cut leg has lots of room for my hips and thighs. The denim itself is wonderfully soft, and while I think it runs pretty true to size, those who want a snugger fit might want to size down one. And as someone who is both tall and has long legs, I appreciate the 33-inch inseam length.