“When low-quality stretch denim is utilized, there is the potential for the jeans to stretch out and not retain their shape,” explains Ahmed. It can also affect the durability and longevity of your denim pieces. Jeans with a significant percentage of stretch or non-cotton fibers mixed in tend to wear out much faster than those made with close to 100 percent cotton. “Higher-quality stretch denim and proper care can help mitigate some of these concerns,” says Ahmed, but how can we tell what’s high quality and what isn’t?
Unfortunately, in general, you get what you pay for when it comes to denim. The cheaper the jeans the more likely it is that the manufacturer used cheap materials to make them, meaning they’re going to wear out much faster. However, that doesn’t mean you’re required to spend three digits or more on denim. Heritage brands like Levi’s and innovative newcomers like Warp + Weft have put time and effort into crafting new stretch denim that combines comfort and durability without breaking the bank. Check out a brand’s website to see what details they can provide about how they design their jeans. Much like sustainability, the more a brand is willing to share, the more likely it is that they’re the real deal, making denim worth investing in. Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for? It’s time to employ the 3 Percent Rule. If the jeans you’re lusting after have more than three percent non-cotton materials, you’re likely better off looking for a different pair that will be more worth your money.
Beyond brands that use innovative, high-quality materials to add stretch to their denim, there are two other major exceptions to this rule: skinny jeans and curve cuts. If you want a super-slim fit jean, the only way to really achieve the look is with a significant dose of stretch. Curve cuts (those specifically made for folks with a greater difference between their waist and hip measurements) also benefit from an added dose of spandex or elastane to achieve a better overall fit. In both instances, we suggest following Ahmed and Guenza’s advice and looking for denim that uses high-quality materials over cheaper ones, so you can have the best of both worlds—a fabulous fit and long-lasting jeans.
Here, our favorite stretch jeans that follow the 3 Percent Rule and have earned the PureWow Editor seal of approval.