With the heavy influence of nostalgia in fashion right now, non-stretch jeans are the look du jour, often with a high-rise waist and in a straight or slim-fit silhouette—you might also know them as “mom” jeans. But that moniker doesn't really do this denim justice say those who are fans of the new styles on the market right now.
If you're accustomed to super-stretchy jeans, rigid denim might feel like an unsavory style. But stiffer fabrics can actually be more flattering and get better over time, rather than breaking down and needing to be replaced after a season or two. (Let's call it a win for conscientious consumption.) “The denim has just the right amount of body-molding give, yet holds you in and up in all the right places,” says Guenza. “Because non-stretch denim generally has more structure than high-stretch denim, it gives slim and straight-leg fits amazing attitude.”
Warming to the idea of adding a pair to your wardrobe? Here's a pro-tip for you: “With non-stretch denim, you can expect the jeans will expand slightly as they shape to your body, so be sure to buy them on the snug side,” Guenza advises.
Alaina Miller, women's design director for Citizens of Humanity, agrees that a "perfect" or "snug" fit will result in the ideal pair of non-stretch jeans. "I think the most flattering fits are snug on the hips and thighs...A half hour or so of slight discomfort most often results in a perfect fit once the jeans start to give and mold to your body," she explains. Leggings, these are not, but every convert I spoke to swears, like a good pair of sneakers or boots, once you get past the break-in period, they're worth the effort.
Still, if you can't get comfortable with a super-snug jean, don't stress. There are options. "It really depends on what the wearer feels their best in," Miller says. "Loose-[fitted] jeans can also be very cool and flattering, depending on your figure."
While high-rise, straight-leg or skinny jeans are a versatile bet, wide legs are another option worth exploring, like Levi’s High Water Wide Leg ($98). “They’re the perfect blend of vintage attitude and modern edge and they go with all of our favorite shoes this fall from chunky dad sneakers to western ankle boots,” Guenza says. In place of overt distressing, Miller says vintage washes with subtle distressing or faded details feel very new this season, as well as lengths that hit at the ankle or below.
Best Non-Stretch Jeans
This pair of jeans is rigid, and that’s a good thing. With a high waist and comfy, relaxed leg, this pair will be your go-to for your casual outfits of the day. Go for a faded indigo wash with small distressed details or opt for one of the other many colors that have other features like raw hems or ripped patterns.
It’s hard to go wrong with a classic pair of Levi’s, especially the 501s, which were the OG jeans. With low-stretch denim, a high waist, a straight leg fit, a button fly, and five pockets, this pair of jeans is timeless. They were invented in 1873 and haven’t gone out of style since.
Made with non-stretch denim, these jeans have a tapered leg and magic pockets, comfy waist (mid-rise, so not too high, not too low), and will break in to mold nicely to your body. The classic wash will help cheer up your mood and day.
Slim, slouchy, and not a stretch in sight, these Citizens of Humanity jeans will take you from season to season. The boyfriend style is just a tad baggy, so if you prefer a tapered look, go down a size.
There’s a common misconception non-stretch denim has to be straight legged or styled as mom jeans—they don’t. These ’90s-inspired jeans are made from 100 percent cotton and feature a baggier silhouette with a trendy striped pattern. They’re definitely relaxed, but not stretchy and actually hold their shape wear after wear.
For a relaxed look, these baggy jeans will keep you casual and comfy. They have everything you want in a vintage look, including that signature high-waist, a five-pocket design, and a slouchy silhouette. You can pair ’em with sneakers, sandals, clogs—just about anything.
There’s just something effortless chic about a pair of dark, cigarette jeans. They look great with a simple white tee, an oversized sweater, or a leather jacket. These Rag & Bone jeans have a high-rise waist and straight legs, and they hit at the ankle for versatility.
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