fall preview | women’s definitive denim guide

fall is right around the corner, so today we’re helping you get prepared by revitalizing our popular denim guide.  is there anything more essential to the modern wardrobe but more difficult to buy than denim? from fit & feel to wash & cut, there are so many options, making it difficult to navigate the blue jean sea. but i’m here to help—at least in part. today, i’ve put together for you what i’m calling the women’s definitive denim guide

this fall, i’ve showcased a variety of different cuts of jeans, paired with a variety of different tops, shoes, and bags.  i’ve gone through the past few months of posts, pulled out the ones involving denim, and compiled them into a master list broken down (effectively) by cut as a point of reference. 

for each cut, i’ve pulled together a list of three jeans of that cut at various price points: low, medium, and high. i’ve also put together a collection of tips and tricks for purchasing denim and maintaining it once you’ve integrated a particular piece into your wardrobe. 

fit & feel.

nothing is more important than the fit and feel of a pair of jeans.  and you’re never going to know how something fits or feels without a) trying it on; and b) having several points of reference.  i can’t recommend enough carving out an afternoon, physically going to a store like The Gap or Nordstrom and working with one of their stylists to try on a full range of jeans.  they’re there to help!  they’ll walk you through the full spectrum of what’s available to give you that reference point. when you’re trying on jeans, focus on how they fit on your waist.  always ask yourself the question, “does the jean sit on the waist where it’s supposed to sit?”  also, focus on the length of the jeans.  ask yourself the question, “are these jeans going to drag given the shoes you currently have in your closet?”  and remember this one crucial fact worth pointing out again, and again:  just because you’re a size 6 in brand X does not mean you’re a size 6 in brand Y.  try before you buy.

wash. 

roughly speaking, the “wash” of a jean refers to the extent to which a pair of denim has undergone a washing and treatment process prior to sale.  again, roughly speaking, that washing and treatment process affects the color and softness of a pair of denim.  below, i’ve put together a scale of various washes beginning with “raw denim” and ending with “bleach wash”.  raw denim is very stiff, dark and has not been washed to soften and remove dye, whereas bleach washed denim is very soft and light, as most of the dye has been stripped away.  most of us are probably going to stick in the rinse-to-light wash region of the below scale, but some of us may deviate to either end of the spectrum.    

raw denim < rinse wash < mid wash < light wash < bleach wash

know your wardrobe.  

jeans don’t exist in isolation.  you’re going to pair them with what you currently have in your wardrobe.  it’s pointless to buy a pair of jeans that don’t work with a single top or single pair of shoes you currently own.  always have a game plan.  when you are looking to buy a pair of denim, a good rule of thumb is this:  have at least two tops and two pairs of shoes that the jeans you’re eyeing actually go with.  that will give you the flexibility and versatility to successfully integrate a new pair of denim into your closet.   

proportionality based on use. 

if you have 10 pairs of jeans, it usually doesn’t make sense for 8 of them to be white if you only wear white jeans 1 month out of the year.  are your go to jeans boot cut, but of your 5 pairs of jeans only 1 of them is actually boot cut?  seems obvious, but it’s worth pointing out:  a) know what denim you love, b) know what denim you actually wear in practice, and c) base the proportionality of your denim on (a) and (b). a + b = c.        

brand loyalty? 

brand loyalty is great.  but not with denim, at least not in the following sense:  you may love Talbots or Ann Taylor for everything but their jeans.  that doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to buy their jeans.  it may turn out that The Gap’s or Levi’s or Madwell’s jeans fit best for you.  and once you’ve found that perfect pair of jeans, don’t be afraid to buy 2 or 3 of the same wash and cut.  jeans don’t last forever, no matter how well you maintain them.  redundancy is good in any classic wardrobe.  

skinny jeans

skinny jeans are here to stay. outside of bootcut, they’re probably one of the more versatile cuts of denim out there.  they go with virtually any top or shoe you have in your closet.  and trust me, no matter what your body type is, if you find the right fit, you’ll be surprised that you too can pull off a pair of skinny jeans.     

fall fashion with Walmart

low | medium | high

fall fashion with Walmart

low | medium | high

fall fashion with Walmart

see the original post here.

wide leg

wide leg jeans are trendy this year, no doubt.  you may or may not like trends.  and you may or may not like wide leg jeans.  but one of the themes of my blog is open-mindedness, particularly when it comes to fashion. 

my oldest son worked at The Gap in Chicago during his undergraduate years.  and one of the things he always tells me—to this day—is how many women he encountered that made a decision—usually in their late 30s—to commit to a single cut and wash of denim.

there’s nothing wrong with favorites.  absolutely nothing wrong with go-tos.  but there’s also nothing wrong with breaking out of your fashion shell and trying something new.      

wide leg jeans, gray turtleneck, red handbag
low | medium | high

wide leg jeans, gray turtleneck, red handbag

low | medium | high

wide leg jeans, gray turtleneck, red handbag

see the original post here

boyfriend/girlfriend jeans

boyfriend/girlfriend jeans have made a real surge in popularity over the past 4-5 years.  that’s because they’re just so darn comfortable and versatile.  wear them when you’re lounging around at home over a lazy weekend.  or roll them up and pair them with heels as i’ve done here.  no matter how you wear them, you won’t regret adding a pair or two to your closet.  

low | medium | high

low | medium | high

bootcut/flared

much like skinny jeans, there are very few harder working pieces of denim than a good pair of bootcut jeans.  they go with just about anything and everything. but it’s worth pointing out that not all bootcut jeans are cut the same.  flares very dramatically in opening width.  some are extremely traditional and conservative, and some not.    

low | medium | high

low | medium | high

see the original post here.   

colored denim

there are as many different types of colored denim as there are colors in the rainbow.  but your closet should include at least a pair of black and white jeans.  they’re neutrals and serve as a great baseline for a myriad of possibilities.   outside of that, the sky is the limit.  do you love red, yellow, or green?  are you as into animal print as i am?  colored denim provides an easy way to spice up your wardrobe.  but remember to be sensible:  no piece of colored denim is going to get the use that a classic pair of blue jeans will.  make sure that when you splurge on a pair of red jeans, you actually have a plan in regard to what to pair them with.  

low | medium | high

low | medium | high

see the original post here

tips for maintenance  

denim is not an investment piece like bags or coats are.  they wear down.  they go out of style.  but you can make them last.  remember always to 

  1. wash inside out in cold water;
  2. hang to dry; and only 
  3. wash every few wears (up to 10)

that’s a wrap, gang!  hopefully you find this guide useful.  and it’s my intention to update this on a seasonal basis.  but i can’t do it without your help.  in the comment section below, let me know anything i missed or something you’d like to see in the future.  

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31 Comments

  1. Susan wrote:

    Excellent review as I find jeans the most challenging thing to buy. I now dry clean jeans seems crazy but the average price point is so high I don’t want to risk washing. Thanks for this it was so helpful.

    Posted 10.24.19
    • carrie martz wrote:

      Loved your denim post.. Was that a dark gray sweater poncho you had on with one out fit ?? I loved it. Where did you find it??? Have a blessed day!

      Posted 8.27.20
  2. Suzanne M Smith wrote:

    Good overview of denim styles. And Casablanca–but of course. So many movies to love.

    Posted 10.24.19
  3. Lisa Lee wrote:

    I love your blog. So much great information. I am petite. I know you are not, but can you address more about petite styles. Thanks.

    Posted 10.24.19
  4. Jeanne wrote:

    Like your low, medium and high price points. I love a deal, and know how much retail is priced up. I’ve even bought a few of your suggested items, ie., crossbody bag from Walmart and moto jacket from JCPenneys. Love both!

    Posted 10.24.19
  5. RuthNNn Yeaton wrote:

    This is a great post; I live in jeans, jackets, blazers, hoodies, sweaters, boots, tennies…you name it, I love my jeans. Beth, your post about wide leg jeans got me to thinking–why not, I can pull them off. Buying them was another issue; I am not fond of going into a store and trying them on, usually finding them on line, then altering the legs if need be. During a thrift shop wander, I found a pair, my size, a good brand, the right length–and it was one of those sales that popped them into my closet. They are wonderful. So now I feel confident enough in the look to take a chance with an on-line purchase from a vendor who carries my size. Your encouragement to try the style was right on tack! I love the look and how much fun it will be to rock it with a boxy short sweater or something equally fun.

    Posted 10.24.19
  6. patricia dias wrote:

    Hello there! I´m from Brazil and discoreved you by reading a post from a brazilian digital influencer. I love your tips and looks, and try to reproduce them here, despite the very different climate in my town. Hope you can read and answer ths brief note. Regards!

    Posted 10.25.19
  7. Diana Owen wrote:

    I would add khaki denim to the list along with white and black denim. I prefer straight leg/ankle length jeans but took a chance on a wide leg from QVC. (Really good price.) Lots of fun to experiment with a trendy style without breaking the bank. LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

    Posted 10.26.19
  8. JohnnaB wrote:

    Loving all the great changes in the blog. Fantastic job!

    Posted 10.26.19
  9. Karen wrote:

    Hi Beth!
    GReat story today and so timely!. I work at Talbots and think they have a really great array of denim. But I also like J Crew and have Ralph lauren in my closet. You are so right about skinny ankle jeans. There are alot out there and they work for everyone. Jeggings are a surprise as well. Many customers say “O no, not for me” without trying them on. With a little spandex in the fabric they are comfortable and flattering. Every band brings out new log styles every season to keep us buying! I like a trouser cut for a piece that is dressier. I didn’t see that in today’s post. You look fabulous by the way!

    Posted 8.27.20
  10. carrie martz wrote:

    Loved your denim post.. Was that a dark gray sweater poncho you had on with one out fit ?? I loved it. Where did you find it??? Have a blessed day!

    Posted 8.27.20
  11. Vicki L Werley wrote:

    I just love your blog. I am petite, but I been coordinating some of your styles.

    Posted 8.27.20
  12. Jan wrote:

    I am also petit and would love more on that subject. Also, I did not see anything about price.
    Thx,
    Jan

    Posted 8.27.20
  13. Lisa wrote:

    Bootcut flare for the win. I love the 70’s!

    Posted 8.27.20
  14. Carol wrote:

    I’m glad to see your brown leather jacket. I have two that style and was wondering if they are outdated. I guess they are timeless. I’m glad because they fit my short body just right.

    Posted 8.27.20
  15. Beth,
    Love the sweater in your first photos ! Info please !

    Posted 8.27.20
  16. Sharon Mulliken wrote:

    Beth, this was very helpful info. I am also petite, as the lady above commented, so some tips for us shorties would be ever so appreciated. Also, one item of info I would appreciate is an explanation of BOYFRIEND Jean’s and GIRLFRIEND jeans! Thanks so much. Love to read your blog every day!

    Posted 8.27.20
  17. Jan wrote:

    I have never been able to find a boot cut the is my length, they are so long that if I take them to be altered, the flare is cut off any ideas on brands that have lengths of boot cuts, I can’t find any?

    Posted 8.27.20
  18. Lorraine Torres wrote:

    Great post on jeans! I have several styles and brands in my closet. I’m currently loving my crop raw hem flares! They go with everything! BTW, you didn’t mention anything about that fantastic camo bag your carrying! Info please! So cute!!

    Posted 8.27.20
  19. Andrea wrote:

    Great, timely post, Beth. You are perfectly right in suggesting buying several of your favs. FDJ jeans fit me perfectly and have that perfect stretch that never bags. I had a pair of rich dark browns that stayed colour true for ever. They no longer sell that colour and can’t find it anywhere. That colour and an equally dark blue leaning olive green made me look pound and years younger….weep, weep. I will always buy at least two of my faves from now on.

    Posted 8.27.20
  20. Elaine wrote:

    I read your article on jeans. Your spot on. I have a pair of trouser jeans from Talbot that I have hung on to , waiting for them to come back. I always wore those with a blazer. Now I grab, boot cut or girlfriend.

    Posted 8.27.20
  21. Brenda wrote:

    I enjoyed the column on denim. I’m upper 70’s and denim is a staple for me. I would appreciate information on the gray sweater poncho. Loved it

    Posted 8.27.20
  22. Maggie Morris wrote:

    Thanks Beth! Excellent review of different types of jeans. You have inspired me to take a trip to Nordstrom. I have tried lots of different styles, and last year I bought my first pair of pull on jeans. OMG! Very comfortable. I don’t really wear them out, maybe to run an errand. I have a tummy and I was frankly tired of hole in my shirts from the front fly. Solved that issue! I do love skinny jeans and wear them out and about – NYDJ fit me best.

    Posted 8.27.20
  23. Hi there

    I enjoyed your input on jeans.

    Great ideas and opinions.

    By the way your haircut is great

    Posted 8.27.20
  24. Carol wrote:

    Excellent post! Jeans are definitely a staple in our closets, but sometimes difficult to find the right ones!! Thanks for your helpful tips!

    Posted 8.27.20
  25. Sonja wrote:

    I would have to add one more important thing to consider when purchasing jeans – finding the correct rise! It makes all the difference in a good fit. I wear a size 12 petite and for the life of me cannot find a good fit in jeans. I simply cannot wear the high waisted styles that are so popular now. Does this mean I am short waisted or long waisted? How do you know? Would love to see a discussion on this topic Beth. Thanks for all you do to make this blog my absolute favorite!

    Posted 8.27.20
  26. Mary wrote:

    I have always been puzzled about how anyone can wear a pair of jeans more than once without washing. Mine always stretch out and lose their fit in the first wearing and I can’t make myself wear them again with a baggy seat and pooching knees. Maybe mine are too cheap…..NYDJ on sale is all I want to afford.

    Posted 8.27.20
  27. Pat wrote:

    Great post! You look fabulous in jeans. I so look forward to retirement when I can wear them all the time.

    Posted 8.27.20
  28. Lyn wrote:

    I have about 10 pairs of jeans – boyfriend, girlfriend, slim fit, straight leg, and flare – all in a range of washes. Most of my jeans are from Talbots or Ralph Lauren, but I also have discovered a great variety at Old Navy at a really low price point. I have to say that customer service has gone away completely – you can’t even get anyone to look at you in most stores. I remember a few years ago my husband purchased a new suit from Lord & Taylor – the gentleman that helped us was fabulous – he helped us not only select a great suit, but also 3 new shirts, ties, shoes, socks and a belt. For years now I usually buy everything on line and stick to the same brands for sizing.

    Posted 8.28.20
  29. Linda Tylians wrote:

    I love your ideas, but I need to know more about the structure of stretch in jeans. Sometimes mine get baggy at the knees and I don’t know what I did wrong. I live in Canada – what about flannel lined jeans? Ever try them, lol? My husband loves them and they go well with plaid boots – crazy look for this Canuck! BTW I love your short hair cut – so edgy that I want to try it too.

    Posted 8.28.20
  30. Nancy A Reed wrote:

    Great update on Denoim. You renewed my interest is wear denim this fall

    Posted 8.30.20

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