We Tried the Affordable Jeans That Are Low-Key the Best in Existence


(Image credit: @fashionwithjazz)

Jeans are a core staple in my wardrobe, so I'm constantly throwing on a pair, and when it comes to the styles I'm adding to my closet, I'm really picky. Over the years, I've tried denim from practically every brand out there. But there's one denim brand with affordable pieces that I think are just as good as expensive labels: Levi's. In fact, my 501s are one of the most-worn pieces in my closet and at just $98 they're the best money you'll spend on a staple pair of jeans.

I'm not the only one who thinks Levi's are low-key the best jeans in existence—they're wildly popular with our Who What Wear team. We all have silhouettes that we gravitate to, so I asked our editors to weigh in with their favorite pair and what makes them so good. Ahead, shop our top picks, from classic cuts to straight-leg styles to the cult high-rise, "ribcage" silhouette.

Levi's 501 Jeans

Why this style is an editor favorite: These are literally the first blue jeans to ever exist. They were designed in 1873 and have been the gold standard ever since. I've probably tried just about every denim trend that's popped up over the years, but I always return to 501s with their classic, straight-leg cut. These jeans are one of the pairs I wear most often because they go with just about anything I pair with them. In my opinion, there are honestly no better jeans that this iconic silhouette.


(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols; Pictured: Khaite Leith Top ($686); Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans; Prada heels)

One of my favorite things about the 501s is that they look so polished. With a straight-leg silhouette, retro blue wash, finished hem, and ankle-grazing length, they are simply the perfect wear-with-anything jeans. Here, I styled them with a button-down top and vintage heels for one of my go-to outfit formulas.

Shop Levi's 501 jeans:


(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols; Pictured: Frankie Shop Eva Padded T-Shirt ($75); Levi's 501 Original Fit Jeans; Manu Atelier Duck Boots ($555))

Another way I love wearing my 501s is with a T-shirt and boots. Here, I added some gold jewelry, a pair of square-toe boots, and a padded shoulder tee—a trend I've been loving this year.

Shop Levi's 501 jeans:

Levi's Straight 505 Jeans

Why this style is an editor favorite: "I should preface this by stating a hard-truth; I rarely like jeans, much less straight-cut jeans. In fact, if you do happen to spot me in jeans I'd normally be wearing Levi's signature ribcage cut or a mom-jean cut. However, for the sake of this story, I decided to test Levi's Straight 505 jeans, and I have to say, my opinion was completed swayed the moment I slipped into these bad boys. Not only is the denim is über soft, but to my surprise and delight, I love the way it fits my butt and waist (which is rare when you actually are curvier). Overall, I would say these jeans converted me to the cause of straight cut denim."—Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, audience engagement editor


(Image credit: @fashionwithjazz; Pictured: GIorgio Armani vintage blazer; Argento Vivo Nencia Necklace ($88); Maison Miru Architect Hoops ($99); Levi's Straight 505 Jeans ($50))

"Normally, denim is very uncomfortable, but I found pairing these Levi Straight 505 jeans with a denim blazer for a busy day working from home was a dream. They're not only comfortable enough to lounge about in, but they're also polished enough for Zoom meetings. They're great jeans to slip into when you're officially over wearing the same sweatpants."—Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, audience engagement editor

Shop Levi's 505 jeans:


(Image credit: @fashionwithjazz; Pictured: H&M trench coat; Forever 21 bodysuit; Argento Vivo Nencia Necklace ($88); Maison Miru Architect Hoops ($99); Urban Outfitters sunglasses; Levi's Straight 505 Jeans ($50); LPA boots)

 "I love jeans that can be styled with just about any type of fall boots or whatever look I'm feeling for the day, and these jeans fit the bill. And while I was feeling a more classic look with the knee-high boots and trench coat, I must hammer in on the fact they looked great with ankle boots or combat boots or heels. Basically, these jeans can work for you no matter what your style is, or what you're feeling for the day."—Jasmine Fox-Suliaman, audience engagement editor

Shop Levi's 505 jeans:

Levi's Ribcage Jeans

Why this style is an editor favorite: "The Ribcage jeans from Levi's are easily my favorite pair in my admittedly large denim stack, but truthfully, nothing really compares, which is why I own them in both the straight-leg and wide-leg fits. The ultra-high rise is really what sets them apart in my mind while the smidge of stretch in the material ensures they're comfortable enough to wear all day long, too. There's a reason they've garnered such a strong following, after all."—Anna LaPlaca, associate editor


(Image credit: @anna__laplaca; Pictured: Aritzia Romance Me Blouse ($98); Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans ($80))

"This look encapsulates my eternal fall vibe: a light jacket, printed turtleneck, dark jeans, and ankle boots. It's easy and casual but never fails to make me feel cool." —Anna LaPlaca, associate editor

Shop Levi's ribcage jeans:


(Image credit: @anna__laplaca; Pictured: Ganni top; Frilly jacket; Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans ($80); Vagabond Cosmo 2.0 Chelsea Boots ($195))

"They're also my go-to date-night denim because the dark wash looks so sleek and I find the high-rise fit really suits my body (they do make the butt look good, just saying). Here, I styled them with a pretty lace-trimmed top and square-toe ankle boots."—Anna LaPlaca, associate editor

Shop Levi's Ribcage jeans:

Next, shop 25 cool fashion finds I'm obsessing over right now.

Associate Director, Special Projects

Kristen Nichols is the Associate Director, Special Projects at Who What Wear with over a decade of experience in fashion, editorial, and publishing. She oversees luxury content and wedding features, and covers fashion within the luxury market, runway reporting, shopping features, trends, and interviews with leading industry experts. She also contributes to podcast recordings, social media, and branded content initiatives. Kristen has worked with brands including Prada, Chanel, MyTheresa, and Luisa Via Roma, and rising designers such as Refine and Tove, and her style has been featured in publications including Vogue.com, Vogue France, WWD, and the CFDA. Before Who What Wear, Kristen began her career at Rodarte, where she worked on assistant styling, photo shoots, and runway shows, and at Allure, where she moved into print and digital editorial. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied art history and business, and currently lives in New York.