I Compared Cheap & Expensive Denim

When it comes to shopping for clothes, I think we can agree that finding the perfect pair of jeans tends to be the hardest task. But does the cost make a difference in the quality? I tried cheap and expensive jeans to find out. Tracking down the perfect fit where denim is concerned has always been pretty difficult for me. So much so that I've been loyal to the same brand of jeans for the past eight years. I just couldn't be bothered with hours of trying to squeeze into jeans that were never going to fit right anyway. (Seriously, why can't sizings ever be consistent??) But when I got the chance to put a few different brands to the test, I was curious to see if there was anything I was missing out on. And hey, maybe shopping for jeans has become easier since I was 16.

So I sported a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans one day, and then a pair of American Eagle Outfitters jeans the next to see if I could tell any difference between the comfort and fit. Does price really make a difference when finding the perfect pair of jeans? Here's what happened when I pitted a $200 pair against a $50 pair:

For all pictures below, 7 For All Mankind is shown on the left and American Eagle Outfitters is on the right.


Jeans from left: 7 For All Mankind Kimmie Boot Cut Jeans, $198,; American Eagle Outfitters AEO Denim X Cafe Jegging, $49.95,

Tops from left: Belmto Astrid Top, $69,; Mossimo Drapey Modal Tee, $12,

Before ultimately choosing the jeans seen here to test for a day, I tried on a few pairs of both expensive and inexpensive jeans. And in so doing, was proven right and wrong about size and fit. As far as sizing goes, I found inconsistencies in both the expensive and inexpensive brands. For every pair that was supposed to be my size and fit as I expected it to, there was another pair (from the same price-point) that I couldn't even button. Maybe it's just too much to ask for that measurements stay consistent from brand to brand (or even within the same brand).

But as far as the proportions went on the pairs that I was actually able to fasten, I was pleasantly surprised. The ones that weren't too tight on my bum also weren't too tight around my thighs or too loose around my waist. And that's not something I remember happening when I tried on jeans in the past (except for the one brand I've stuck with over the years).


7FAM: These jeans were true-to-size, and may very well have been the softest, stretchiest jeans I have ever put on my body. Plus they were form-fitting where they needed to be without ever feeling too tight. The only problem I had with this pair, is that they were way, way too long. Although I think this is so that they can be tailored to anyone's perfect length, it made it so I could not comfortably wear them without any alterations.

AEO: This pair of skinnies was also true-to-size, and comfortably stretchy. The proportions all felt right straight away — nothing felt too tight or too loose, too long or too short for me.


7FAM: Throughout the day, I almost didn't even notice I had these jeans on. Had I been able to tailor them, I think they would have worn so well that I might not have taken them off. But the sheer length of these made it so I had to roll them up walking around the house so I didn't step on them, and even going out I still had to cuff them when wearing four-inch heels. Other than the length issue though, this pair stayed soft and stretchy without ever stretching out. The fit stayed the same from the moment I stepped into them until the moment I stepped out. Plus, I love how easily this style can be dressed up or down.

AEO: I was pleasantly surprised to find that this pair also didn't change its shape much throughout the day. While the waistband seemed to become ever-so-slightly looser by the end of the day, this still didn't affect the appearance or wear of these jeans.


7FAM: I really think these jeans are yoga leggings in disguise. Although I wouldn't recommend working out in denim, I think I could have in these if I had wanted to. Because at that point in the day when it was time to curl up on the couch, these jeans didn't have to come off even when the bra did. And that's saying something.

AEO: I played with my dog in these jeans, and everything was OK. We rolled around on the floor; we went for a walk. And at no point did I think my life would have been easier in a different pair of pants. Plus, when I ate a sh*t-ton of food for dinner, I didn't even have to unbutton these jeans (which I almost always do). So, you know.

Final Thoughts

If you live in denim, you know how important it is to find a pair that not only looks good but is also comfortable enough to wear all day long. After trying both expensive and inexpensive pairs, I have to say that I don't think price matters when it comes to finding the right fit. You'll be able to find your ultimate pair of jeans regardless of where you look. It basically comes down to style preference, and where you're willing to make concessions.

Cost aside, if you want to be able to wear your new jeans straight off the rack, and can't be bothered with potentially needing a tailor, you might prefer looking towards more affordable pairs. But if you want that optimal fit and don't mind taking the time to customize it, those pricier pairs may be more your speed.

As for me? Well I've learned that I shouldn't give up on every other brand besides the one I'm used to. Because price certainly can reflect quality, but it doesn't always have to. And I fell in love with two wildly different pairs of jeans that prove it.

Images: Miki Hayes (5)