this thing's incredible

Five Tries Later, I Found the Perfect Post-Baby Jeans

Photo: Courtesy of the vendor

I don’t mean to perpetuate the unreasonable expectation that a person who has recently given birth should be able to quickly “bounce back” to their pre-baby weight, but I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit bad about myself when, seven months postpartum, I still couldn’t fit into any of my favorite (non-stretch) jeans. So I dedicated my first real post-baby shopping foray to the search for a new pair. I fully expected this to be a Sisyphean task. Finding a pair of jeans is difficult enough under normal circumstances, but because I had a newborn (and therefore very little time), I had to do the impossible — find jeans online that fit me properly, without trying them on.

Fortunately, I had a pretty clear idea of what I was looking for: 100 percent cotton (i.e., rigid), button-fly, high-waisted, straight-leg jeans with a finished hem in a vintage wash. And I had a couple more highly particular specifications: The rise couldn’t be too high, because my torso is so short that my waist is virtually nonexistent, and the leg had to be cropped, because I’m five-foot-two and regular-length pants go past my shoes (I prefer keeping the original hem). After hours of late-night Googling, I pressed “order” on the Charlotte, a cropped high-rise jean from Citizens of Humanity that cost a lot more than what I was hoping to spend. I liked the weight of the denim and the shorter inseam, but the fading, whiskering, and distressing made them look too much like 7 For All Mankind jeans from the early aughts. Plus, the leg fit was a little too wide, too. I sent them back. Then, I tried Everlane’s ’90s Cheeky Straight Jean (convinced I’d like them by the “vintage-inspired” descriptor). But the fabric lacked the heft of my vintage Levi’s, the waist was too high, and the leg was too loose. And they didn’t lift my butt as promised. They went back, too. Next up was Reformation’s Julia Crop High Cigarette Jean. They were cropped and had a slimmer leg, but like with the Everlanes, the denim wasn’t thick enough. I was ready to give up.

It was amid a last-ditch scour of Barneys’ “straight leg” jean category that I came across a pair from GRLFRND, a brand I’d never heard of before. They seemed perfect: They had a slimmer, more tapered leg opening than the others, looked slightly cropped on the model, and were clearly made of a stiffer material than the ones I already tried. I had high hopes and practically vibrated with anticipation when I submitted my order. The second they arrived I knew my search was over: I slipped them on and felt instantly revitalized, like me again. The rise was not too high and the button fly actually pulled everything together in the midsection (something I emphatically did not find with the other pairs). The straight leg was fitted and magically slimmed my legs, and my butt got an instant boost (good-bye, mom-jean diaper butt). There’s minimal distressing (an inoffensive bit of fraying along the edges of the front and back pockets), and the wash made them look actually vintage, instead of faux vintage. Length-wise, they were nearly perfect — I knew they’d be on the longer side when I ordered them (they have a 28-inch inseam, whereas I would have preferred somewhere between 26 and 27 inches), but they hit right above my heel and don’t require hemming. They’re also made in the USA, a small but not unimportant detail.

Yes, they’re expensive for jeans, but these are actually cheaper than the Citizens I didn’t like, and worth every penny. One of the other highly particular specifications I was looking for in a new pair of jeans was that, when worn with ballet flats, they would make me look like the perpetually casual-cool Sofia Coppola traipsing through the West Village. A tall order, I know, but these made me feel like just that.

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Five Tries Later, I Found the Perfect Post-Baby Jeans