True Story: I Found the BEST Cropped Denim Flares

Welcome to the first edition of a new series in which I'll test out a variety of items from different brands that you want to know about. I'll give you my honest take in my quest to find the best of the best for you, dear reader. WWW Reviews will encompass everything from trends to staple items to fashion utility items and more—basically anything and everything a fashion girl would want to know about. First up: cropped denim flares. 

It's a bit of an oxymoron that the breakout star denim trend of 2016 also happens to be the reigning most polarizing denim trend. But I can't say it's surprising, as it's not the first time that the world has been divided over denim styles. To name a few, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, and low-rise jeans have all been the subject of much debate in the past and present. Why? Everyone wears jeans. They're a universal staple every season, so it comes as no surprise that everyone has a vested interest.

The common argument when it comes to cropped flares is that they're not flattering, but based on my research, I would have to beg to differ. Every denim brand is selling their take on the trend right now, making the task of finding the right pair a bit overwhelming, so I did my due diligence and chose eight pairs of cropped denim flares from top brands. You truly can't go wrong with any one of these pairs, but some are simply better than others for different reasons. So depending on what's most important to you in a pair of jeans, one of the below options could be perfect for you.

That said, my search proved fruitful, as all of the zipping and buttoning lead me to find one pair in particular that truly takes the cake and receives a perfect score in my book. Keep scrolling to read my honest reviews of the cropped-flare offerings from some of your favorite brands, and shop them all for your own collection. 

Fit: A little on the small side, but mostly true to size. There is a bit of stretch.

Fabric: 98% cotton, 2% polyurethane

Comfort: The slightly stretchy medium-weight fabric is quite slimming, yet has enough give to be fairly comfortable. 

Rise: 9.5 inches

Wash: A classic medium-blue wash with minimal distressing that lends itself well to being dressed up or down. 

Stretch-out factor: They held their shape very well. No complaints!

Length: 25.5-inch inseam

Price: $195

The verdict: 4/5

I loved the classic wash on these and found the wide flare to be very forward and flattering. The length was perfect for my 5'4" frame, hitting right above the ankle. They may have been a bit tight around the thighs to wear on, say, a long flight, but aside from that, the comfort factor wouldn't keep me from wearing these for any other occasion. I prefer a bit of a higher rise, but for women that lean toward a wearable mid-rise, these are a great option. These are absolutely worth the price tag—I'm happy to see designer denim that's less than $200 these days.  

Fit: True to size. 

Fabric: 93% cotton, 6% polyester, 1% Lycra

Comfort: Extremely soft and comfortable. They almost felt like jeggings. 

Rise: 10 inches 

Wash: Very light and summer-friendly, but the designer has regularly released different washes of this style since they were released (and quickly rose to popularity).

Stretch-out factor: They do stretch out a little, but the touch of Lycra in the fabric helps them to retain their shape for the most part. I've had to put mine in the dryer a couple of times to temporarily shrink them. 

Length: 24-inch inseam

Price: $228

The verdict: 3/5

I'm a big fan of the frayed step hem, and this was one of the first brands to do it. While these were very comfortable, I found them to be so thin that they wrinkled a bit toward the bottom (putting them in the dryer helped with that). They offer a nice high rise at the waist, which I prefer, but they felt quite short to me (I'm 5'4"). This may not be the best option for taller women, and the price is on the high side for those who aren't yet sold on the trendy step hem.

Fit: Slightly big, but not enough to size down.

Fabric:  92% cotton, 6% elastomultiester, 2% elastane

Comfort: The fabric is on the thicker side, but they contain lots of stretch, so no complaints here.

Rise: 8 3/4 inches

Wash:
I loved the faded black wash and think it would be a welcome addition to a denim collection that's full of blue and black jeans—they're just as versatile.

Stretch-out factor: I would prefer for these to stretch out a little less. Perhaps the elastomultiester is to blame. I find myself throwing these in the dryer after washing, as hanging them to dry causes them to stretch out more quickly.

Length: 26-inch inseam

Price: $218

The verdict: 3/5

This is a good starter pair if you're hesitant to try the trend. They're simple and clean. The rise is the lowest of those that I tried, but I didn't hate the hint of a cool, low-slung look. The price on these is justifiable, as they're a sturdy, well-made pair of jeans.

Fit: I recommend sizing up by one size if you prefer a little extra room in the hips.

Fabric: 100% cotton

Comfort: The rise is high and the fabric is sans stretch, so they're not incredibly comfortable at first but will break in and soften a bit with wear.

Rise: 11 1/4 inches

Wash: These are reconstructed from vintage jeans, so each pair is unique. Options run the gamut from light to dark, with and without distressing.

Stretch-out factor: There's no stretch in the fabric, so they'll keep their shape.

Length: 28-inch inseam

Price: $325

The verdict: 3.5/5

I was very excited to try this cool celebrity-favorite pair (a collaboration with Leandra Medine), as I'm a huge Re/Done fan. They certainly didn't disappoint, but if you're new to the trend or are hesitant to try it, these wouldn't be my first recommendation. They have a vintage, reconstructed look that's very forward and feature an old-school button fly. Think Jane Birkin. With a 28-inch inseam, these weren't very cropped on me, but they looked cool regardless. While the price may seem high, they're absolutely worth it in my opinion. Each pair of vintage Levi's is painstakingly reworked to feel modern and special.

Fit: Consider sizing down if you're between sizes.

Fabric: 92% cotton, 6% polyester, 2% spandex

Comfort: Very lightweight and soft.

Rise: 9 and 1/2 inches

Wash: The dark black wash is great for day-to-night.

Stretch-out factor: These do stretch out, likely due to the polyester in the fabric. Consider it a good excuse to wear a cute belt.

Length: 26 1/2–inch inseam

Price:
$128

The verdict: 3/5

These are very flattering, especially in the inky black wash. (They're made of "holds-you-in, lifts-you-up denim," according to the product description.) I also love Madewell's denim monogramming service (take advantage of it). The on-trend frayed hem is a bonus, and the kick flare is subtle. I think this is another great option for a starter pair, especially given the lower price point and the perfect high-but-not-too-high rise. The biggest drawback was their tendency to stretch out, but at least they were comfortable!

Fit: True to size.

Fabric: 98% cotton, 2% elastane

Comfort: No complaints here. They're lightweight with a hint of stretch.

Rise: 9 1/2 inches

Wash: The dark denim wash is very clean, polished, and versatile.

Stretch-out factor: Minimal.

Length: 26-inch inseam

Price: $188

The verdict: 4.5/5

I knew that I'd like these when I noticed the cool exaggerated slits at the ankles, but I loved them when I tried them on. The fit was great, they're comfortable, the length and rise was perfect for my 5'4" height, and even the pocket placement was ideal. The wash makes them suitable for the office, if jeans are part of your dress code. If you're seeking a wide kick flare, this may not be the best option for you, as the flare is more subtle due to the slits. All in all, these would be a great wardrobe addition for the upcoming summer to fall transitional period. The price is on par with denim of this caliber. 

Fit: Runs a little small.

Fabric: 100% cotton.

Comfort: The fabric is a little stiff and stretch-free.

Rise: 11 inches.

Wash: Faint fading, which gives them that coveted worn-in vintage feel.

Stretch-out factor: The waist stretched out a little in my experience but retained their shape elsewhere.

Length: 28-inch inseam

Price: $88 (On sale for $50 on levi.com!)

The verdict: 4/5

These had a cool fashion-girl fit that I wasn't expecting. The longer length combined with the high rise, frayed hem, and vintage-inspired wash made them look like something you'd spot in fashion week street style. They're a bit thick, making them better for the cooler months (i.e. not August), and you can't beat the price! Gotta love Levi's. 

Fit:
True to size.

Fabric:
98% cotton/2% elastane.

Comfort:
They're lightweight yet sturdy and provide just enough stretch to be comfortable.

Rise:
10 inches.

Wash:
Jet black.

Stretch-out factor:
None! They retained their shape perfectly.

Length:
26 1/2-inch inseam.

Price:
$209

The verdict: 5/5
These are the absolute best cropped flared jeans on the market, if you ask this editor. I was very impressed by how slimming and flattering they were. They contain the ideal fabric blend for retaining their shape without feeling constrictive. They feature an on-trend high (but not too high) rise, and they're the perfect length and size leg opening for cropped flares, in my opinion. Add to all of that a clean black wash and a cool frayed hem and you have the makings of a pair of cropped flared jeans that are worth every penny. They're not too thin, not too thick, versatile enough to be worn for a number of occasions, and come celebrity-approved. What more could you ask for?

Denim week is going strong at Who What Wear. Check out our coverage of the latest denim trends and styles for fall

Let me know what you'd like me to review next in the comments below! 

Opening image: Getty Images