I remember my first pair of designer jeans really well. This was back in high school, and I couldn’t have been more excited to walk into one of the coolest boutiques in Arizona to try them on. They had signature stitching across the back pockets, a worn-in wash, and straight-leg cut—and I’d never felt better slipping on a pair of jeans. I can’t remember the exact price, but it was enough to make my Dad scratch his head and wonder why I had just paid good money for jeans that were purposely distressed and looked like they’d already been worn. But I wore those jeans until they were threadbare and certainly got my money’s worth. And as a huge fan of jeans, I was constantly on the hunt for cool new pairs of designer denim for the years that followed.
It’s funny though because lately my designer jeans have been sitting in a neatly folded pile at the top of my closet—completely untouched. Instead, more affordable denim has been in constant rotation in my wardrobe. Unworn are my skinny jeans with high-tech stretch. Replacing them have been more rigid, high-rise jeans in vintage washes like Levi’s 501s. While today these might seem like a throwback to the ’90s, Levi’s iconic 501 style has been around since 1890 and is still a classic today.
Now, I don’t have anything against designer denim—quite the opposite. But it’s been interesting to discover that well-made jeans are available at any price, and sometimes the less expensive options can end up being your favorites. Classics are classics for a reason and deserve a place in your wardrobe.
Read on to see how I'm styling affordable denim and shop for jeans under $100.