Where to find good value on jeans?
November 20, 2011 4:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a great value on everyday jeans. I don't mind spending decent money if that's what it takes, but I'd want that money to go towards quality materials and construction - I truly don't care about labels or fleeting fashions. I live in LA but I'd be cool with shopping online if that's where the value can be found. Anybody have pointers on places/brands that could help me out with this, or is it back to the Gap again?

I hope this isn't an obvious question, but my Googling mostly reveals a lot of information on where to get trendy designer jeans, which isn't really what I'm after. I'm more interested in finding some place that sells classic, well-made jeans I can wear for years. Thanks!
posted by captainawesome to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I really like American Eagle. Definitely prefer to the GAP. I'm not sure if construction is the best ever, but it's not terrible for the price.
posted by sweetkid at 4:40 PM on November 20, 2011

Honestly? Levi's. Get whatever cut you like in the least "distressed" wash possible. The one time I got an expensive pair of Levi's (90ish) I found it to be worth it, but mostly because it resisted all-over fading better than the $50 pair. Don't wash too much and line dry. They'll last.

Zappos has them (so free back and forth shipping) as does Amazon Prime. Levi's official site isn't bad either.
posted by supercres at 4:42 PM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Check out Carhartt
posted by lobstah at 4:43 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Along with Carhartt, check out Dickies. If you really don't care about fashion their basic jeans are about $15 and are super thick and sturdy. They are that starchy, dark-blue denim with orangish stitching. I get mine at Fleet Farm. They make nice khaki twill work pants for not much more too. They're Carhartt knock-offs, but the quality is acceptable.
posted by werkzeuger at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2011

My True Fit might give you an idea of where to start looking.
posted by runningwithscissors at 4:54 PM on November 20, 2011

I ask previously on MeFi and have been wearing carhartt since and have been quite happy. Super easy to find online and any city or suburb will have a retailer carrying them.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:03 PM on November 20, 2011

I'm on Express Jeans right now. They fit me just right, as opposed to most other brands I've ever tried on.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2011

Most Goodwill stores, but especially the one in Glendale, are packed with all sorts of jeans--I've found great, classic Levis and other brands there. Now, you might not love 2nd hand jeans, but for $5? Usually broken in in all the right places.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Besides Carhartt and Dickies, you might also check out Duluth Trading. Outdoor-leaning casual clothes companies like L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer might be worth considering (note that we're talking about the low end of the price scale, and not about e.g. Mountain Khakis or Patagonia--those guys make nice jeans, but not from a maximizing-value perspective). If you go for any of those, keep an eye out for discounts and sales and coupon codes, as there are tons of 'em available.
posted by box at 5:19 PM on November 20, 2011

I have a lot of very expensive jeans, but my Levis are at least as well made as any of them (better than many). Levis are the definition of classic.
posted by primethyme at 5:25 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've been impressed by the quality of J. Crew's jeans.
posted by duvatney at 5:30 PM on November 20, 2011

Levi's 501 shrink to fit. Bam.
posted by Dmenet at 5:44 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

levi's and j.crew.
posted by violetk at 5:55 PM on November 20, 2011

I'm horrified to admit this, but right now I really like the LC Lauren Conrad line of jeans they are selling at Kohl's.
posted by firei at 6:16 PM on November 20, 2011

er, disregard if you are a dude. because Lauren Conrad doesn't make jeans for dudes.
posted by firei at 6:24 PM on November 20, 2011

posted by brappi at 7:33 PM on November 20, 2011

If you have the thrift store zen in you, definitely check out Goodwills and Out of the Closets. Go to Out of the Closet on Mondays when they first put a different colored tag on sale. It's not a jackpot every time, but damn when I come across some 5'2" woman the same size as me who recently discarded last season's clothes? So awesome. I've found LA thrift stores to be excellent for this sort of thing. I guess because of the turnover in fashion.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:41 PM on November 20, 2011

If you want to wear them for years, consider getting a pair of jeans made with raw denim. It's not pre-washed or pre-distressed by the manufacturer, so you get to break it in yourself. Levi's 501 shrink-to-fits are raw, and a lot of their other cuts are available in "Rigid" which is a one-rinse finish that is pretty much raw (they just had their first soak at the factory instead of your washing machine). Raw/rigid Levi's shouldn't run you more than $50-60, and they're going to be higher quality than anything you'll find at a mall store.

Now, if you ever decide that you want to completely geek out about denim, there's a whole community built around that. Here's a good place to start. For the high-end stuff, prices start around $250 and go up pretty quickly from there. Once you get into that range, you're either talking about historically-accurate Japanese reproductions of classic Levi's jeans or small-batch sewn-in-the-US jeans (of made-in-the-US denim, US rivets, US pocket bags, etc, etc.). Here's a good place to start learning if you want to.
posted by brozek at 7:46 PM on November 20, 2011

Levi's, the kind without any spandex or lycra, just denim. I have a pair I bought six years ago, and they've only gotten more worn in and awesome over the years. Which is pretty impressive, considering how often I've worn them. Express Jeans fit me better, and if you're a petite lady that might be the case for you as well, but they don't last quite as long as the Levi's.
posted by yasaman at 8:15 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for jeans that will last, then generally you don't want the lovely soft denim jeans. IIRC Levi's red label are a softer denim. I have several wonderful pairs of expensive, soft denim jeans that look and feel great, but don't last very long. This thread is timely because I just noticed that my phone has worn a hole through the back pocket of my only remaining pair without a hole in the back pocket. Grr.

So, look for a really heavy denim, that might feel a bit starchy and rough when new, but it will wear in and become comfortable.
posted by Joh at 9:03 PM on November 20, 2011

If you find yourself around Beverly and Hauser, you can swing by Denim Doctors. Not only do they sell a pretty cool collection of jeans, shoes and shirts, but since they are the best at repairing all kinds of denim, they could probably point you in the right direction for comfort and longevity. They are really nice guys who know denim well.
posted by buzzkillington at 9:06 PM on November 20, 2011

I have long been extremely happy with Wrangler jeans, something like $17 at Target. They last and keep their color pretty well, generally look like basic jeans.
posted by ambient2 at 11:18 PM on November 20, 2011

I swear by Levis and Lee.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:57 PM on November 20, 2011

I may be the sole dissenter here, but I think that you should go and try on some Levi's in person before buying them online. I have found that the quality of the denim varies greatly, as does the consistency of the cut.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 2:58 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be careful with Dickies. I bought one pair of Dickies jeans and they wore out faster than any other pair of jeans I've had. In less than a year: corners of pockets tore, belt loops became disconnected, etc.

Of course this surprised me since their work pants are so durable.

I currently have a pair of Express jeans which is holding up well after 1.5 years.
posted by kidbritish at 8:03 AM on November 21, 2011

If you have a Costco membership, the Kirkland brand jeans they sell are a classic denim jean. I get them for my husband who is VERY, VERY hard on jeans and they last at least as well as anything else we've ever bought and they're $13/pair.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:46 AM on November 21, 2011

It's really going to depend on what "value" means to you, and how much you care about fashion/cut etc. The makers of artisan Japanese selvedge denim will claim that their denim is the best value and so will Walmart. Unless you just mean "the absolute cheapest" it depends on your priorities, and you're going to have to try them on - to me, whatever I look best in is the best value, unless they're over $200 or the quality is total shit.

That said, my wife seems to have solved her denim issues for the foreseeable future by finding a basic Levi's cut that looks fantastic on her. Within that size and model number (515's in a 10 in her case) they come in various leg styles, lengths, and colors, so she has several different looking pairs and can easily buy more. However, we still won't buy them without trying them on, because as someone rightly points out above, Levi's seem to have some cut and quality variations going on that I don't like or understand.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:08 PM on November 21, 2011

will second uniqlo jeans. i bought 3 pairs of skinny jeans from there in different colours because i liked the first pair i bought so much
posted by raw sugar at 9:42 PM on November 21, 2011

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