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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
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Shirt (similar) | Jeans (similar) | Shoes | Hat

I wear a lot of ripped jeans, and anytime I’m in some and you see me (on stories, in photos on the blog), “Where did you get those?!?” is always one of the most asked questions from you guys. So, the time has come to talk denim picks here. Being the distressed denim enthusiast that I clearly am, I am always on the lookout for the next best pair of torn-up denim goodness to throw on my body. The go-to jeans that I do have, like these Levi’s I got from Urban Outfitters and the Moussy jeans (below), I seriously wear all. the. time. I simply just love a GOOD, quality pair of jeans that are durable and versatile. They’re edgy, “cool” (is saying cool uncool?) dress down floofy, boho tops that I tend to love and, in the more relaxed cut I normally get, are frankly just so comfortable for being on set, running around town, or mom-ing (when I have to look like a real-life human outside of my home).

I’m VERY into Japanese denim right now, which is typically made on a short old-school loom (called a selvedge loom) and “denim enthusiasts” herald this stuff above everything else. Being selvedged means that the edges of the denim are finished in a different way that means they will never fray, and in general are more durable. Plus, the older looms are slower and less precise, which makes for lots of variation in texture and color which is EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT in distressed denim.

Emily Jeans Side By Side

Shirt Dress | Jeans | Jacket (similar) | Sandals | Hat (similar)

But, like my favorite Moussy jeans (which are um…over $300), really really great jeans (especially Japanese denim) are often a splurge. For me, I justify it because I wear them A LOT, so I think it’s worth the investment (especially if they are from a brand that uses sustainable practices which a lot of denim brands are doing now). I realize that dropping three Benjamins on jeans isn’t realistic for all (most), but HOLD THE PHONE because I’m here to share with you one of my favorite durable/quality denim shopping hacks for much MUCH cheaper jeans than you’ll find at standard retail prices. Here it is: All over Etsy, there are TONS of vintage Levi’s that are just begging to be bought, worn and loved again. They are the vintage jeans that a lot of fast fashion brands base their styles off of AND since they are used (aka recycled!), this saves so much in waste that comes with producing a new pair of pants. WIN WIN. But, finding a great pair that actually fits is similar to scouring Craigslist for the perfect credenza so here are a few tips to try:

1. Search for vintage Levi’s + your size (501s are my favorite but there are lots of other great styles, too). Note that this type of denim normally goes by waist size, not your standard 4, 6, 8, etc. So try something like Levi’s 501 28.

2. Make sure you look in the product description and check out the measurements. Sizing can be tricky so best practice is to take your measurements and compare to the product measurements.

3. If you see a pair you really love but it isn’t your size, click through the Etsy shop it’s sold from. A lot of these shops have a wide range of Levi’s in different sizes.

4. You can always size up and get them tailored to fit you perfectly. (In general, tailoring is ALWAYS a great option for getting a great fit, which automatically will make you love and want to wear something so much more, plus properly tailored clothes generally LOOK better and more “expensive” because there are no awkward fitting issues.)

Another hack before I go and leave you to your Saturday shopping is to check out The Real Real for a huge selection of second-hand high-end jeans. They consider themselves luxury consignment and a lot of the products are OVER 50% off the original price, and the stuff they have is seriously good. I have been trying to buy more second hand (in home and in fashion) so any other suggestions you have please leave in the comments below.

OKAY, now let’s get to some of my favorites (plus a few vintage picks we found on Etsy, too):

Jeans Under 100

1. Premium Cigarette Jeans | 2. Classic Straight Jeans | 3. Stella Skinny Jeans | 4. High Rise Skinny Jeans | 5.Levi’s Wedgie High Rise Jeans | 6. Maggie Mid-Rise Straight Leg Jeans | 7. Ripped Ankle Straight Leg Jeans | 8. GRLFRND Distressed Jeans | 9. Curvy High Rise Skinny Crop Jeans | 10. Vintage 505 Distressed Levi’s (size 32) | 11. Ribcage Straight Jeans | 12. Vintage 716 Levi’s (size 28) | 13. Rag & Bone Low Rise Jeans (size 23) | 14. Levi’s 501 Taper Jeans | 15. Vintage Levi’s 501 (size 32) | 16. Vintage Levi’s 501 (size 29) | 17. Rag & Bone Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans (size 23) | 18. Vintage Levi’s 501 (size 27)

Updated Jean Over 100

1. Mother Denim Tomcat Jeans | 2. Nobody Denim True Jeans | 3. Cynthia High Relaxed Jeans | 4. Moussy Vintage Wide Leg Jeans | 5. The Billy Jean | 6. Good Legs Jeans | 7. Rivet & Thread High Rise Slim Boyjeans | 8. Current/Elliot Vintage Cropped Slim Jeans | 9. High Rose Stove Pipe Jeans | 10. Vintage Levi’s 501 (size 33) | 11. Good Curve Jeans | 12. 90’s Mom Jean | 13. Re/Done Distressed Levi’s 501 (size 27) | 14. The Billy Waterfront Jean | 15. Nobody Denim Frankie Ankle Jeans

Alright, that is all I have for you today, folks. Comment below if you have any sustainable denim suggestions or other ways you find affordable quality jeans…and HAPPY SATURDAY.

***photography by Veronica Crawford for EHD

  1. Im not savvy enough to know if it’s on my end or your end of things but I used to be able to zoom in on your site (smartphone) and haven’t been able to the past couple mos. I have no trouble zooming in on other sites. Just bringing it up bc on the roundups, without zooming, the pics and prices are really tiny.

    I need new jeans badly! My 3 identical go-tos are going on 10 yrs old! So thanks for this!

    1. Thanks for letting us know! I will bring this up with our IT department xx

  2. Maybe it’s just an age thing (I’m past 50) but I just can’t buy a pair of jeans with rips in them. At any price point. I would feel like some fashion marketing expert is quietly laughing as I plop down my money on a pair of torn jeans.

    They look cute on you Emily. But I just can’t do it.

    1. I’m 42 and I’m right there with you on this. If they’re really great jeans, I will wear them enough that they will achieve Ripped Status anyway, right? A rack of identically pre-shredded jeans makes me a little crabby.

      1. I’m in the over 50 demographic too and thinking that owning a pair of distressed jeans is cool— but as a novelty, not for allll the time. Is this trend on the way out or here for the long haul? I’m kinda tired of it—it feels cliche. 😬

        1. I feel like it goes in and out of style, like everything does. I’m over 50 and think ripped jeans are cool, but I couldn’t wear them to work.
          In the day, we’d just buy jeans at the thrift store and rip them ourselves. I might try that.

    2. Thank goodness!!
      I love fashion and love denim.

      Cheers, from Canada

      1. Ohh. I’m so thinking the same (45 btw)!!!
        I got those distressed grey sweats from Nordstrom (that were featured in a different Emily fashion post). I literally think I look like I can’t afford clothes without holes, not fashionable.

        However, I have bought some “little house on the prairie” (you know what I mean?)blouses and I’m thinking the distressed denim might be the counterbalance it needs.

        I may just feel better about buying if they are vintage and naturally worn, rather than buying new pair that looks faux old.

        The ones that interest me on Etsy, are no returns…..
        Alas, I may still orde a pair.

    3. I’m 62 and I resisted wearing ripped jeans for a long time but now enjoy 3 pair. Not for everyone, I know, but they feel fun to me on the days I wear them! Having said that, I would not pay over $75 for them.

      1. Same. I like them but think they look a bit silly after a certain age – I have teenagers! Same for denim shorts which I really, really love. Even my 19 year old doesn’t wear ripped jeans, tho not for age reasons.

    4. I’m 35. My knees pop holes in literally every pair of pants I own. I will never buy premade holes

  3. I know this is ok out of your area of expertise but here are some more accurate facts about selvedge denim: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selvage

  4. Emily I’m so glad to hear you mention second hand! I buy almost everything except T-shirts at a wonderful second hand place called My Sisters Closet. Fab designer and mall brand stuff at a fraction of the price. Here’s my jean hack: I buy jeans mainly on eBay. I know exactly the brand, size and cut I want and search for them periodically. Awesome deals and if they’re gently loved they are more comfy.

    1. Ditto! I love AG Stevie’s and I can score them for like $25 new!! Strangely I tried to buy some on Poshmark chloe were used and crappy quality. I think legit new stuff must fall off the truck and then get resold on eBay or something because the quality can be shockingly good.

      Unrelatedly, I think Levi’s are more of a thing in LA then elsewhere, definitely not huge in SF where I live, but I keep seeing style bloggers rave about A Gold E jeans being a good dupe. Personally I wore vintage Levi’s cinched at the waist with a big belt in the 90s a la Jennifer Aniston in Friends the memories or I should say old photos of which make me say no thanks to this trend, ha.

      1. Ha!
        Also a Bay Area person. Also wore my Levi’s like that.

  5. If you are ever in Bozeman Montana, go to Fawn & Co. Two girls opened up a boutique where they sell vintage Levi’s & Wrangler’s from rancher’s all over Montana. I bought a pair from them when I was visiting and I get compliments all the time on them. Look them up on IG

    1. Oooh good to know thank you xx

  6. Love these jeans! They all look so good!

    I hope you have a great Saturday!
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.com

  7. At what age should women stop wearing ripped jeans?

    1. Never, unless they want to 🙂

  8. Everlane has the best Japanese denim for such reasonable prices! And the company is ethical and has such a cool business model. Other than that, I buy Pilcro from Anthropology.

    1. Yes I’ve been wanting to try Everlane! all their stuff looks so great and super affordable

  9. I’ve been really happy with madewell jeans…although they’re not super cheap they’re about half the price of my other love, AG.

  10. I am seriously showing my age here, but, FYI, the Original 501 Levis with the button fly fronts from the 60’s- early 70’s, are not labeled correctly. I still have a pair from the late 60’s that are size 36! (I wore a 29 at the time). What you had to do was wash them, over and over again, because they shrank each time they were washed. I think I had to wash mine at least 10 times on hot water, and dry them on high to get them down to the size I needed them to be. Good news is, by the time you got them shrunk down to your size, those stiff, dark, heavy cotton denim (remember, no pre-washing or stone washing, or Spandex in this old denim!) were much softer and a whole lot more comfortable!! So, if any of you are shopping for authentic, vintage 501’s with the button fly, be sure and get MEASUREMENTS, don’t read the size label!

    1. Agree. And I’m in the same age group!

      1. Ok. I’m feeling better. I just got a vintage pair that fit that Sara size (38!)

  11. Distressed demon adds harm to environment and workers.—https://www.ecowatch.com/environmental-cost-jeans-2544519658.amp.html

    Just wear them, work in them then wear your rips with pride. Like wrinkles. Earn them. Don’t add to environmental and human problems.

  12. This is interesting and informative on selvege denim which is really laying and cutting the edge of the jeans along the finished edge of the fabric.

    https://www.heddels.com/2011/03/the-rundown-on-selvedge-denim-what-is-it-all-about/

  13. I’d love to see this round-up with a section or * or something that shows which jeans are available in sizes over 32 or 14. Most jeans aren’t available in bigger sizes and it get frustrating going through link after link to find that the jeans aren’t available for me. I’m not saying every jean should be – but something noting bigger sizes available would be super helpful. Thanks!

    1. We linked to a few Good American jeans that have sizes 00-24 and many of the Madewell jeans also have sizes up to 37. It is unfortunately that many brands do not have inclusive sizing but we do our best to include the brands that do xx

  14. Where do you recommend getting jeans tailored in LA?

    1. I haven’t been yet but I’ve heard great things about foxhole in la! http://www.foxholela.com

  15. Kudos for you for promoting lower end and thrifted clothing too. The state of the world and being constantly marketed to, much less the high cost of clothing and the fact that the (mostly) women who make our clothes are paid shockingly low wages got me thinking about my clothing in a different way. I buy thrifted as much as possible now. There are high end thrift, consignment shops, and low end thrift, Salvation Army, small nonprofits and church thrift shops. Also, I am sick of paying big bucks for poorly manufactured expensive clothing. They get the same holes and tears as the low cost clothing and don’t last long either. So I looked on Instagram for tutorials on darning and their are loads of them. Also educational in other ways too, tickover_ is particularly informative. Emily, maybe you could do a tutorial on how to darn socks with her? I live in NYC, don’t have a car and socks are important. Am sick of buying expensive socks which get holes so fast. Darning is relaxing and can be done watching tv. So satisfying too.

    There is even a home design component somewhere in this too. Who remembers when closets were so much smaller? Older homes have small closets because everyone did not have a huge amount of clothes or shoes. In general clothing was much better made and lasted longer back in the day. (Compare old LL Bean to newer and it is apparent.) It is shocking how much we now consume compared to our parents generation and the whole world now aspires to live the way Americans do. Sad and frightening for the planet. Back to closets: admittedly there is also the fact that I live in a city where a lot of us have bedrooms smaller than the closets the people on home shows scoff at. Obviously I could go on about this for while. Climbing off my soapbox for now.

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