How to Find the Best Jeans for Your Wardrobe

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By this point, I’m sure most of us know fast fashion pretty much sucks (a very academic, technical term haha). From environmental impact to labour practices, the low cost you pay translates to a high cost for literally everyone else in the world. I’m not here to focus on the negatives, but if you do want to do more research I suggest looking here and here for starters.

All that said, jeans aren’t going anywhere. They’re a staple in many wardrobes - for good reason. They’re comfortable, versatile, and easy to wear. A single pair can be styled countless different ways, making them a great addition to a curated wardrobe; they work across various seasons and styles. Denim can work for many different body types, regardless of sex, gender or size, although this isn’t always apparent when you’re shopping unfortunately. And there are now many options out there today that won’t destroy our world.

Many companies make jeans in an ethical and sustainable way. Brands like Mother, Nudie, and Father’s Daughter are all wonderful options, but not accessible to all budgets or sizes. Everlane is a great lower budget option, but won’t work for sizes over 14/16. Reformation and Alice Alexander have beautiful plus size options, but aren’t possible for every budget. It is so glorious that we have these options, but like humans, one company can’t be everything for everyone. These business are run by real humans, so be kind to each other please. 

Obvs, the answer is to go thrifting.

This is personally my favourite option, as it negates all of the issues listed above.

  • The cost is accessible, as most thrift store prices for jeans are between $5-$20 CAD. Even if you choose consignment or curated secondhand, you’re looking at between $15-$100 CAD, which is still a fraction of the cost of a new pair.

  • You have ALL THE SIZES. Literally all of them. You might not have all styles in all sizes, but there are options in every size.

  • Regardless of sex or gender, you will see all types of people in all of the sections, without judgement or input from pushy sales people.

  • There is more than just one style or vibe. Instead, there is pretty much all of them. It can be overwhelming, but it can also be so much fun and spark creativity.

  • You’re not only avoiding creating more harm to the environment, you’re helping save it by giving something that would otherwise be trash (jeans are super difficult to recycle so usually end up in the landfill) another life.

  • While many of the options have been made using sketchy (and for some, downright horrific) labour practices, the damage has already been done. I personally believe this is the next best step and one of the only ways to mitigate the mess that we humans have made. I don’t want what was made to go to waste, the money doesn’t go to the company, and I remove all labels to avoid spreading the name of that company. That said, deciding if you want to buy secondhand clothes that were made by a fast fashion company is a total grey area, and for some peeps is a hard no. We all have different values and beliefs, so you do what feels best to you! No judgements here :)

Thrifting Tips and Tricks

As awesome as all of this is, it doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Thrifting for specific pieces can require a lot of time and patience, hence the rise of curated secondhand stores like Boheme Goods, Kindred Thrift and Belenslinens. But, it can be done. After almost a year of searching for the perfect pair for myself I suddenly found FOUR pairs in one day (yes, I got them all). Most importantly though, I also learned a lot in that year, which I’m going to share with you so it hopefully doesn’t take you as long to find your own dream pair.

  • Keep in mind these are spanning decades, styles, and brands; keep an open mind, and don’t take things personally

  • Try on everything that catches your eye; nothing may work, but you might find a gem you weren’t expecting

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things - play with it and have fun!

  • Be patient and go often; inventory changes like weekly

  • Watch 50’s, 60s and 70s movies for styling inspiration

  • Look for 100% cotton for a true vintage vibe; cotton with some stretch for a more fitted, French girl style (also awesome on curves)

  • Remember that tailoring is your friend! 

  • You want the jeans to fit your widest part; almost anything else can be altered smaller

  • Shop in the men’s section; especially if you’re tall!

  • Levis are awesome for narrow hips; for curves go up a few sizes

  • Rustlers are great for curvy bodies

  • Lighter wash denim and black are super versatile and classic

  • Check for holes in the groin/thigh

  • Remember that you can play around with adding details (crop, fray, rips, patches)

  • Trust your intuition

Have you learned any tips or tricks for thrifting jeans? Please feel free to share them below!