How To Shop For Denims That Last & Cost Less Overall


So many people learn the hard way that shopping the smart way for great denims, especially jeans, is an art. You have to shop smart and with a strategy. How many times have you bought denims that you fell in love with but they stopped fitting well or lost their quality? How often have you questioned if you should be paying the price it’s sold for? When I was in high-school/uni, I worked in three premium denim stores and they really made us study denim (we had books and everything!), and until today it’s made me a really fussy denim shopper. I like my denims to last and I like to know what I’m paying for. The guide below will cover all of the above and more so none of the above issues should happen to you again! 

Tip 1: Buy a slightly too-tight fit.
All denims regardless of their blend and your body shape will stretch by half a size especially around the seat and waist area. This is even the case if you’re buying one size up for a bigger fit. Keep this in mind when shopping.

Tip 2: Buy non-stretch, 100% cotton denim.
100% cotton (with zero other stretch fabrics in its blend) is hands-down the best kind of denim to buy for items you want to last years, in fact, it could last you a decade. Unlike stretch denim, non-stretch maintains its shape and eventually forms the worn-in fade stretch denims tend to replicate. 100% cotton denim looks much more expensive and gives you that classic, vintage denim look. In that way this kind of denim is like leather; it lasts you long, it’s an investment and it gets better with age.

Don’t always be fooled by the brand, it’s about the blend. Premium brands will still offer stretch denims because customers want them, especially in the case of skinny jeans, but they will also still lose their quality. A quick example: my stretch jeans from Mango initially cost around R750 (but thankfully I bought them on sale) and lasted just over a year. They went thin and lost their shape. I have a pair of boyfriend jeans from Cotton On that are non-stretch, they were bought for R400, maintained their shape, have been lasting me three years, and they could easily go another three more.

Tip 3: When to buy pricey denim vs when to buy cheaper denim

There’s a time and a place for both, and this outfit is a typical example of that. Both my jacket and my jeans are from Zara. The jacket is s timeless design I know I could wear for a decade so I paid a bit more for it, I got it in 100% non stretch denim and in a neutral color way with a neutral fade. Since the fringed jeans are a trendy, statement pair, I only bought them because they cost around €10 (R150) on sale. I would never have bought them at full-price because they’re not practical, and in my experience with Zara stretch denims, they would only stay in shape, size and quality for about two years.

Tip 4: Watch the placement of fades/color treatments, rips and embellishments

Details in denim are like highlight and contour for your legs and booty. Where there’s a detail, thats where the eye will fall and that’s going to make you potentially look bigger. Maybe you feel you need that in certain areas though so it could work to your advantage! Also look at the curve of the yoke – it determines your butt shape in the end. A yoke curved up gives you a fuller butt, a yoke curved down shapes your butt, and a flat yoke gives you a flat butt!

I factor each and every one of these things into all of my denim purchases before buying. I make sure I’m super honest with myself and it saves me from going for impulse buys or what “kinda” looks cute at the time! Do you guys have any other tips for purchasing denim? Feel free to share them in the comment section below :)




Photographs: by Abdul Malick Ally

Outfit details: Simon & Mary Hat, Gigi Hadid X Vogue shades, H&M tee, Zara jeans and jacket, Carvela Luxe boots from Spitz.


By sharing her personal style, fashion and beauty advice, written reflections and more, Fashion Breed is a place for women to learn, relate and connect.

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