Is there anything more personal than a pair of jeans? One woman’s idea of the perfect length or wash or cut can be another person’s butt-flattening sack. That’s why we polled 18 different women (including two Strategist editors) on the very best jeans for women, from high-waisted and cropped to wide-legged and hip-hugging.
“American casual beach chic with French Left Bank. The jeans are perfect because they have a very, very high waist, and are very well-fitted, very flattering, and much cheaper than J Brand. You can wear them to the office with a blazer and look put together and professional, but just the slightest bit French.” — Plum Sykes, author
For camouflaging a belly
Madewell makes great jeans — I’ve worn their high-waisted version for years and years. They don’t stretch out easily. You never get plumber’s crack. Plus, they suck your belly in. This new arrival, with a button-fly and raw hems, is a sexy slam dunk. Bonus: The more worn in the jeans get, the better they look. — Joanna Goddard, founder Cup of Jo
Note: There are only a few sizes left, but these high-rise skinny jeans in the patty wash are very similar, just fewer buttons.
For baring some ankle
“If you’d rather not spend $280 on a pair of Re-Done jeans, I have a secret: I was in the Levi’s store the other day and stumbled upon their new (as of this month) 505c cropped series —thick, slightly stretchy, ankle-hitting jeans that are super flattering. It’s as if they’re caught on to Re-Done’s mission to make figure-enhancing versions of old Levi’s and decided (smartly) to do it themselves. They look like they were made in 1987, but with a 2017 silhouette in mind. And they’re a third of the price.” — Alexis Swerdloff, Strategist editor
For the ultimate comfort
“I think they’re really flattering, and I get lots of compliments on them. And I’m not normally someone who gets compliments on jeans. They’re really comfortable, too. I wore them for a bunch of my pregnancy — but even nonpregnant, they look great.” — Casey Wilson, actress
Note: The Walton wash is sold out, but the new Creston wash—a slightly darker blue—is available.
For a faded high waist
“I wore them so much, I got three pairs. When I love a product, I wear it to death. So I have a pair that I leave in New York and another that I leave in Paris, so I don’t have to travel with my jeans. You can wear them during the day and go to a meeting comfortably. I like that it’s high-waisted with that light color and vintage feel, but it’s much more flattering than old Levi’s you’d find from an actual secondhand store.” — Sofia Sanchez de Betak, fashion consultant
For the fashion-y girl
“This pair of Rachel Comey jeans is so stylish and has the coolest silhouette — it’s definitely not straightforward like a lot of other things you can find. They’re something you can wear to a cool job, too (just make sure no other girls in your office already have them because they’re basically the “It” jean.)” — Bifen Xu, Yahoo special projects director
Note: These are low in stock from Matches Fashion, but there are more available here.
For the DIY cutoff hem
“My all-time favorite jeans are these old Levi’s 501s I have. They’re button-fly jeans that I love for their very light-blue wash. I cut them so they fall right at my ankle about two inches above my shoes, exposing my socks. The way they’re a little baggier makes them perfect for that hem. I like wearing them with black socks and white Vans.” — Rosanne Smith, pastry chef at Smile To Go
“I love this brand because everything has a slight vintage feel (the founder is from a family that has worked in denim for decades and a lot of the fits are taken from their designs in the seventies), but it’s not a caricature of vintage jeans, it’s subtle. The crop on these is just great (so great that I have my eye on another version, too).” — Shannon Adducci, fashion stylist
For wearing with a button-up to work
“Lucky Brand’s Charlie Skinny are fitted yet conservative because of the sturdy material. I can wear them to work and feel polished, but I can also wear them on the weekends and feel stylish in a crisp white button-up top, comfortable heels, and a tailored blazer.” — Whitney Richardson, photo editor at the New York Times
For the petite
“I have two identical pairs of raw denim April 77s, which I’ve worn into the ground for about eight-plus years. One pair is torn beyond belief. The crotch is fully blown out, but I still wear them with shorts underneath! I’m only 5’2” so every pair of jeans I own has to be tailored (and so do these), but otherwise the fit on them is still really great. Plus, they go well with Timberlands, sneakers, or dressed up with a suit jacket.” — Christelle de Castro, photographer.
Note: These are sold out, but a very similar distressed version is available here.
For the boyfriend fit without a boyfriend
“Levi’s 510 Skinny Fit from the men’s section. I’ve recently discovered that men’s jeans fit me better than a women’s cut and now have a newfound love affair with denim. I’ll throw on a vintage threadbare T-shirt, an oversized Reformation blazer, and a pair of clunky boots to wear them with.” — Tanya Brown, fashion publicist
For the perky butt
“Remember Miss Sixty? That Italian brand of denim that’s not cheap but not expensive? I had the most amazing pair of jeans that shaped my hips and ass incredibly. I’ve had them for nearly a decade, and they’ve still got it. I’ll wear them with white Reeboks, a white tee, and gold hoops.” — Cyndi Ramirez, founder and editor-in-chief of Taste the Style
Note: There are limited sizes of these left, but here is another pair by Miss Sixty.
For the mom-to-be who doesn't look it
“The second I pulled these on, I knew I needed to look no further. You can wear them every single day (as I do) and they still maintain their shape. Their four-way stretch fabric is more comfortable than leggings. Their low-rise waist fits right under the belly and expands with you from trimester to trimester. When wearing them, I’ve been told those magic words: ‘From the back you can’t even tell you’re pregnant!’”— Jessica Silvester, Strategist senior editor
For warmer weather
“My Surface to Air jeans are a pair I can’t wait to get into come late spring and into early summer. I’d love to wear them during the winter, but they’re easier to wear during warmer weather when I can expose my ankles with some high heels.” — Kat Popiel, co-founder of On Plate
Note: These jeans have sold out, but this pair from Surface to Air is similar.
For hugging the hips
“My pair of DL 1961s are super soft and fit my curves well. I prefer skinny jeans, with and without rips, that are normal or high rise. A go-to outfit would be the jeans with a loose-fitted distressed white T-shirt, a few thin necklaces layered on, and my Arrivals Rainier leather jacket.” — Marian Cheng, co-founder of Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings
For shorter torsos
“I love my Wrangler jeans because they’re the most flattering on my body. I have a short torso, so a high-rise gives me a waistline and makes my legs look longer. And the heavyweight denim just sucks me in too. I cropped my jeans to be ankle-length and usually pair with a silk tank and Converse high-tops.” — Carol Ai, on-set tailor for film and advertising
For fans of ripped and skinny
“For years I used to drop hundreds of dollars on designer jeans, including some Rag & Bone and J Brand. But I bought a high-waisted pair of black skinny jeans with ripped knees from Madewell a few years ago, and those are absolutely my number ones now. They have a tiny bit of stretch, and hit just above the ankle, and perfectly pair with low boots. I basically live in those jeans. I’ve worn them so much that they’ve now turned gray and have a cool vintage look.” — Kat Odell, food and travel writer, author of Day Drinking
For going dressy or casual
“I love the structure of high-waisted Lemaire jeans. They do half the work for me and are effortless with a white tee and dressed-up or dressed-down with shoes to fit the occasion.” — Sabrina de Sousa, co-owner of Dimes
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