21 Best Designer Jeans That Are Worth Every Penny

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Four fashion experts weigh in on what sets designer jeans apart from everyday denim.

<p>InStyle / David Hattan</p>

InStyle / David Hattan

Through the years, particular brands of designer jeans have amassed cult followings, consistently turning up as top-sellers on our favorite shopping sites. But what sets apart a pair of designer jeans from those at a lower price point? We tapped Musings of a Curvy Lady creative director Thamarr Guerrier, fashion model and creative Salem Mitchell, lifestyle creator and disabled fashion girl April Lockhart, and wardrobe stylist Nichole Goodman to weigh in and help determine the answer. They all agree that designer jeans should come with something special—unique stitching, logos, embellishments, washes, and next-level cuts that establish them as prized possessions rather than everyday jeans.

In 2024 specifically, Mitchell sees Japanese denim, raw denim, and selvedge denim becoming increasingly popular, whereas Goodman notes that this year has been all about harnessing the nostalgia of the early 2000s when it comes to denim. Meanwhile, Lockhart is a fan of the art of thrifting. “Right now, studs or stones have been catching my eye, and I’ll always look for details like a different color stitching.” Her favorite pair of designer jeans are Miu Miu—and sure enough, she sourced them vintage.

With the help of these fashion experts, we named superlatives for the best designer jeans, all of which you can shop as you scroll, reading about key specs along the way.

Best Overall: Frame Le Jane Crop

See at Frame-store.com

See at Net-a-porter.com

What We Love: The cut of the Le Jane is a beloved customer favorite—and these also happen to be sustainably crafted.

What We Don’t Love: They aren’t available in a crisp black in this particular cut.

Frame’s Le Jane is a bestseller, no matter where you shop. We’re fans of the Rhode Grind wash, which is flattering with an ultra-high rise, relaxed thighs, and straight legs. While the recycled denim used to make these pants is rigid, the overall effect is lived-in and vintage-inspired, certifying these as perfectly on-trend. These jeans also run true to size, so you don’t have to doubt yourself when you make your selection.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Regenerative cotton, recycled cotton | Cut: High-rise, straight crop

Best Affordable: Levi's 501 '90s Original Women's Jeans

See at Amazon.com

See at Levi.com

What We Love: They come in a whopping 11 washes, run up to size 34, and have two lengths—so you can be specific about fit.

What We Don’t Love: They run big and are meant to be worn slightly baggy, but some customers feel that’s not obvious on the product page.

These premium 501s are a classic style under $100—what’s not to love? They run baggy through the leg, loose through the hip and thigh, and are meant to give off a “thrifted” resale look. While they’re comfortable, they’re still durable, and they don’t stretch out with wear throughout the day, which is what you might expect of low-quality denim. Mitchell, Lockhart, and Goodman all named Levi’s as the number one choice for an affordable designer jeans purchase, so that should be more than enough convincing for you.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Cotton | Cut: Mid-rise, straight-leg

Best Splurge: Gucci ‘80s Fit Denim Pant With Horsebit

See at Gucci.com

What We Love: The horsebit decal on the back pockets and logo stamp at the waistband make these easily recognizable for fashion lovers everywhere.

What We Don’t Love: They only run up to a 31, making the size range fairly limited.

These ‘80s-inspired jeans are signature Gucci. Goodman’s styling expertise directed us straight to the brand for classic cuts and washes, and the luxury label certainly did not fall short. With the horsebit pockets as a nod to the house’s equestrian roots and the flashy metallic logo at the back pocket, you’ll love everything about these jeans if you decide to splurge. Gucci is upfront about fit feedback, with a size calculator readily available online, so be sure to note that this pair runs small when you make your selection.

Size: 24–31 | Material: Cotton | Cut: High-waist, tapered ankle

Best Plus-Size: Marina Rinaldi Wide-Leg Stretch Denim Jeans

See at Neimanmarcus.com

See at Us.marinarinaldi.com

What We Love: These jeans have a hidden elastic waistband at the back only, for maximum comfort with wear.

What We Don’t Love: The biggest sizes are sold out in the classic blue wash, and there’s no light wash for those who love the silhouette and want to collect more than two shades.

Guerrier tells InStyle that she’s disappointed about the lack of plus-size designer jeans on the market, however, Marina Rinaldi is a go-to where the fit is worth the higher price point. These jeans, available in both midnight blue and black, have structure and unique tailoring thanks to slanted pockets and a sophisticated turn-up detail at the hem. They also have a lot of stretch and are part of the brand’s Marina Sport collection, so you can dress them up or down.

Size: 17–33 | Material: Cotton, elastane | Cut: High-rise, wide-leg

Best Petite: True Religion Jennie Mid Rise Curvy Skinny Jean

See at Truereligion.com

What We Love: Most reviewers say they fit like a glove, highlighting curves without being too restricting.

What We Don’t Love: Some people report that they run small, without that being clarified on the site.

Goodman recommends True Religion for petite jeans, explaining, “I’m petite myself, so my issue is almost always finding a good length on the pants. I find that brands that focus on denim and not other garments tend to be more size specific in width and length to ensure the best fit.” Sure enough, True Religion allows shoppers to shop by inseam length, and this pair is specifically designed to prevent gaping at the waistband. Available in four shades—Dreamcatcher, Sky Light, Indigo Upgrade, and Bony Rinse Black—the Jennie maximizes shape retention and of course comes with the signature horseshoe stitching on the back pockets.

Size: 23–38 | Material: Cotton, rayon, polyester, elastane | Cut: Mid-rise, skinny

Best Tall: Mother The Hustler Roller Sneak

See at Motherdenim.com

See at Revolve.com

What We Love: This dark blue denim has just a touch of stretch, while still retaining shape, achieving utmost sophistication.

What We Don’t Love: They’re only available in one wash.

Lockhart names Mother Denim as a go-to for tall folks. The brand allows you to filter by Cropped, Ankle, Regular, or Long denim variations, and this pair has a 32-inch inseam and clean hem. The pooling pant look is in, and this dark wash Heirloom shade infuses the pants with extra sophistication. Wear them with a plain white tee, ballet flats, and a trench coat for an elevated, everyday look.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Cut: High-rise, wide-leg

Best Curvy: La Ligne Molly Straight Leg Jeans

See at Lalignenyc.com

What We Love: They come in a wide range of sizes (up to 34) and five unique washes.

What We Don’t Love: They aren’t shown on many body types on the site, making it hard to determine how they’ll fit many people.

Available in many washes and even a distressed version, these jeans are our favorite straight-legs for curvy women. They’re under $200 and boast a silhouette that never goes out of style. What’s more, they can be easily washed in the machine and feel more and more lived-in with every wear.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Cotton | Cut: High-rise, straight-leg

Best Wide-Leg: Goldsign The Edgar Pleated High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans

See at Net-a-porter.com

What We Love: They’re more stylized than your average wide-leg jeans, with a silhouette that highlights the waist and elongates the frame.

What We Don’t Love: They’re great going-out jeans but are hand-wash-only, so it takes a bit more time to prepare them for their next wear.

These ‘80s-inspired jeans are cut almost like paper bag trousers, with pleats at the pockets and a pinched waist. They look best teamed with a bodysuit or tucked-in, fitted shirt that allows the full silhouette to take center stage. Even though these wide-leg jeans are structured, they aren’t rigid, and you can see just how movable they are. If you’re in between sizes, go for the larger option.

Size: 23–32 | Material: Cotton | Cut: High-rise, wide-leg

Best Flare: Frame The Jetset Crop Mini Boot Sheen Noir

See at Frame-store.com

What We Love: These jeans have rave reviews, and given the super-stretch denim, they’re extremely comfortable while being uniquely cut as a cropped boot-leg.

What We Don’t Love: They’re dry-clean-only to preserve the quality of the stretch—and the fact that they adapt to your body. Conservative washing is probably best.

The Jetset is currently Frame’s best-selling jeans, completely free of hardware or pockets, and perfect for traveling in style. These flare jeans are available in Keller, a dark-wash blue, Sheen Noir, a shiny black, and White, which is perfectly suited for warmer months. The size guide is simpler than you think. Choose 0 if you typically wear sizes 22–24, 1 if you wear sizes 25–29, or 2 if you wear sizes 30–34.

Size: 0–2 (22–34) | Material: Cotton, polyester, elastane | Cut: High-rise, flare crop

Best Bootcut: Favorite Daughter The Valentina Superhigh Waist Ankle Bootcut Jeans

See at Nordstrom.com

See at Lyst.com

What We Love: The Crosby wash has a true blue look to it that makes these jeans perfect for dressing up or down.

What We Don’t Love: There aren’t many onsite reviews of these jeans.

Favorite Daughter is slowly but surely becoming a top contender in the jeans category. The Valentina shape is a best-selling silhouette in particular, with a very high waist to keep things cinched and secure up top, and the perfect length for teaming with your favorite heeled booties. They have a bit of stretch but feel like premium denim that won’t stretch out with wear throughout the day.

Size: 24–34 | Material: Cotton, lyocell, recycled lyocell, elastane | Cut: Super-high-rise, bootcut

Best Skinny: AG Jeans Hi-Rise Skin Stretch Skinny Jeans

See at Saksfifthavenue.com

What We Love: The dark wash makes these skinny jeans feel more elevated than other pairs, with the brushed bleaching at the pockets being subtle enough to appear lived-in.

What We Don’t Love: They don’t come with multiple inseam choices, which is a bit disappointing for skinny jeans you’d want to be the perfect ankle-length, sans bunching.

AG Jeans is known for its sustainable production methods, including solar energy use and water recycling. The designer brand continues to churn out silhouettes that feel classic and never fail to disappoint in the quality department. These jeans are machine washable and provide just enough structure for skinny jeans, with a slight stretch thanks to the small addition of spandex in the material.

Size: 24–32 | Material: Cotton, spandex | Cut: High-waist, skinny

Best Straight-Leg: Reformation Val 90s Mid Rise Straight Jeans

See at Thereformation.com

What We Love: They’re a bestseller on Reformation’s site, which means the brand has reproduced them in nine colors and washes to make devoted customers extra happy.

What We Don’t Love: While the Reformation site ensures customers these are bestsellers, there are no reviews with detailed specs from a range of body types.

These jeans are great whether you’re looking for a slouchy look (in which case you should take your larger size), or a more fitted straight shape (size down). What’s more, any alterations you need when you purchase the jeans are covered by Reformation—and that’s not a bonus we see often. The Colorado wash is a favorite, given its vintage appeal and perfect blue tone with slight bleaching through the thigh. Team these with everything from a going-out top and heels to sneakers and a white tee for running errands on the weekend.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Regenerative cotton, Tencel lyocell | Cut: Mid-rise, straight-leg slouch

Best Cropped: RE/DONE Comfort Stretch High Rise Stove Pipe

See at Amazon.com

See at Nordstrom.com

What We Love: They come to the perfect crop, so you can show just a hint of your shoes, but not overly cropped to an awkward length.

What We Don’t Love: They aren’t offered above a size 32.

Inspired by the ‘70s, these Re/Done jeans are cut to show just a sliver of the ankle or complement a high-top sneaker. With the vintage wash and slight distressing at the hem, they make for the perfect everyday pant—which is proven even further by the comfort-stretch feel of the denim. Offered in five washes, it’s no surprise that these are the best-selling jeans on Re/Done’s site.

Size: 23–32 | Material: Cotton, elastane | Cut: High-rise, straight-leg crop

Best Vintage-Inspired: Citizens of Humanity Horseshoe Frayed Jeans

See at Nordstrom.com

See at Bergdorfgoodman.com

What We Love: They make for an extremely flattering take on a slightly divisive trend, giving those who have been hesitant to try the cut an option that’s easy to warm up to.

What We Don’t Love: While it’s obvious that shoppers love them (since they’re bestsellers on virtually every site), there aren’t many detailed reviews available online that discuss the feel of the denim and the accuracy in sizing.

These jeans are very popular for anyone wanting to try the horseshoe trend. They’re a bestseller on most of the sites where they retail, and their lived-in look is undeniably cool. With a high-rise, frayed hem, and horizontal stitching at the knee, they have a subtle patchwork effect about them, giving off the illusion of panels that gently frame your legs.

Size: 23–32 | Material: Cotton | Cut: High-rise, barrel-cut

Best High-Rise: Agolde Riley High Rise Straight Crop Jeans

See at Amazon.com

See at Bergdorfgoodman.com

What We Love: The Riley is shoppable in both stretch and non-stretch denim, a unique offering that isn’t generally available among other brands.

What We Don’t Love: While these jeans are available in many washes, there’s no crisp black color, with the darkest shade leaning towards more of a charcoal gray.

Agolde is renowned for its denim that feels lived-in and has major vintage appeal. This is currently the best-selling silhouette on the brand’s site, with a signature slim straight leg. The brand offers a long variation, too, in case you don’t love where the crop hits. You can shop these jeans in 12 washes, which is almost unheard of for a designer brand. Agolde is also upfront about the way each pair of pants is intended to feel, with the Riley being non-stretch and heavyweight, but with a soft, movable finish.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Cotton | Cut: High-rise, straight crop

Best Boyfriend: Acne Studios Loose Fit Jeans 1991 TOJ

See at Acnestudios.com

What We Love: They come with a thin belt to hold the jeans in place if you’re filling the pockets with your smartphone or other heavy objects.

What We Don’t Love: These are cut to a unisex fit, so sizing isn’t standard and it may be difficult to determine exactly which size to order so that they fit with the give you’re looking for.

The Acne Studios Loose Fit Jeans come highly regarded by Mitchell, whose friends are big into the label for trendy details. “I’ve had this pair for at least a year now,” she says. “Any baggy pant girl can attest that there’s nothing more annoying than your pants starting to fall as soon as you put things in your pocket, so these jeans give me the fit I’m looking for and stay around my waist when I need them to.” These are crafted from organic cotton and are made of rigid material. They’re available in two lengths: 32 and 34 inches.

Size: 24–34 | Material: Cotton, polyester | Cut: Low-to-mid waist, loose-fit

Best Mid-Rise: Mother The Mid-Rise Dazzler Jeans

See at Nordstrom.com

See at Anthropologie.com

What We Love: They’re a bestseller in the perfect true blue denim shade.

What We Don’t Love: They don’t come in black or white, which can be frustrating for those who love the fit and are looking for a variety of washes.

These jeans are perfect for styling with a going-out top or blouse and heels. We love them in the medium-wash shade, which can so easily be teamed with black, white, gray, or even navy blue tops. While they have a skinny fit that complements a heel nicely, they’re not overly rigid and still have enough stretch to them to maintain movability.

Size: 24–32 | Material: Cotton, lyocell, spandex | Cut: Mid-rise, skinny crop

Best Black: MOTHER The Insider Crop Step Fray

See at Anthropologie.com

See at Bloomingdales.com

What We Love: These jeans are butter-soft, but they still hold you in where you’d want them to.

What We Don’t Love: People report mixed results with sizing, so it’s hard to tell if they’ll run true to size. Our recommendation? Make sure they can be returned if you buy them online.

These Mother Denim jeans are the perfect shade of black. They have a sleek finish, which feels sophisticated, but the distressed hem invites you to style them casually just as well. With the signature tonal “M” stitching on the back pockets and a staggered ankle, they feel more unique than your average pair of black jeans. Mother Denim is, after all, a beloved brand recognizable by many.

Size: 23–32 | Material: Cotton, polyester, Lycra spandex | Cut: High-rise, straight-leg crop

Best White: Khaite The Shalbi Jean

See at Khaite.com

What We Love: Khaite’s site shows you exactly what to style the jeans with.

What We Don’t Love: You can’t throw them in the machine for a quick wash—the brand recommends freezing them or rinsing them by hand in the sink.

Khaite is yet another beloved designer brand with denim celebrated by fashion insiders. The Shalbi jean in white is a bestseller on sites like Net-a-Porter and Nordstrom, and it has a relaxed, non-stretch fit, achieving the best of both worlds. Each hand-finished pair is graced with an embossed antique button, which makes these feel decidedly luxurious. You can even pick up the matching Mahmet top for a full look.

Size: 23–32 | Material: Cotton | Cut: High-rise, ankle-cut

Best Light-Wash: Slvrlake Tess Wide-Leg Jeans

See at Bergdorfgoodman.com

See at Goop.com

What We Love: The jeans are made from a high-quality open weave material so they hold their construction and the fabric doesn’t appear flimsy or see-through.

What We Don’t Love: The brand is so popular that common sizes sell out very quickly.

Slvrlake is having a moment within the denim category. The brand has a following that’s building, and at a contemporary price point, it’s luxury for slightly less than some of the other designer brands on this list. When it comes to light-wash jeans, you want the quality of your pants to be obvious so the material doesn’t appear too flimsy or even see-through. Slvrlake uses premium vintage indigo denim with an open weave construction that delivers rich washes and unparalleled structure. Finish these with a sleek loafer or sneaker, since they’re ankle length to allow for a shoe moment.

Size: 23–32 | Material: Cotton | Cut: Low-rise, wide-leg

Best Dark-Wash: Agolde Harper Mid Rise Straight

See at Revolve.com

What We Love: The dark wash and rigid structure easily allow you to take these from day to night, dressing as fancy as you choose.

What We Don’t Love: Some customers report that the sizing is off, with the jeans being either too big or too long.

We’d be remiss not to include Agolde on this list for best designer jeans twice. The fanbase speaks for itself—these jeans are really good. If you’re a fan of rigid structures that don’t stretch with wear and look sleek and high-quality, these are for you. Overall, customers report how premium the denim feels, which is ideal for dark-wash jeans you’ll probably reserve mostly for going out at night. The mid-rise and straight leg also make for a solid in-between combination, qualifying these as timeless rather than trendy.

Size: 23–34 | Material: Cotton, recycled cotton, elastane | Cut: Mid-rise, straight-leg

What to Keep in Mind

  • Fit: If you’re investing in designer jeans, ideally, the fit should be supreme. For that reason, it may be best to locate the jeans you’re eyeing in a department store and make sure you can try them on first. Everyone has their specifications when it comes to fit. For example, Guerrier says she has a smaller waist-to-hip ratio, often struggling with gaping at the waistband. “If I’m paying for a designer, I don’t want to have to take them to a tailor. I want to be able to wear them all day without them changing shape,” she says. Meanwhile, Mitchell suggests that when it comes to preferred fit, it’s all about knowing yourself and your body. “I mainly buy men’s jeans because I love a straight leg, no skinny jeans for me,” she declares confidently. The key to reaching this level of self-awareness when it comes to denim is all about experimenting with virtually every fit of jeans on the market (even if you’re just trying them on for size). We recommend devoting a day to denim shopping to achieve this—even if you don’t spend a dime.

  • Brands: While there are designer denim brands that have become popular through the years—Agolde, Mother, Frame, and Levi’s, to name a few—everyone’s preference is unique. You may find that you can’t quite wrap your head around the hype of a particular label, no matter how many pairs you try. One piece of advice is to shop vintage, if you’re comfortable with it, as you may discover a premium designer brand that’s marked down and fits you like a glove. “I have a vintage pair of Miu Miu jeans I found in college that is my favorite thrift gem,” Lockhart says. Goodman agrees that intricate stitching can be a clear sign of a well-made designer pant. “I love when I see a brand’s unique stitching pattern or color and think that must be that designer. Pocket quantity or placement is also another design element that makes a pair of jeans special,” she says. She’s bought jeans from Goodwill, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and Decades.

  • Sales: Of course, price plays a major factor when it comes to shopping for designer jeans. Remember that there are year-round sales you can benefit from—especially when you discover which brand you’re most devoted to. Sign up for markdown alerts at your favorite denim destinations to stay in-the-know. Guerrier has had success shopping designer jeans marked down at Nordstrom, Lockhart prefers sales at Shopbop and Farfetch, and Mitchell recommends scoping out Ssense’s end-of-season sale.

Your Questions, Answered

Are designer jeans better quality?

The consensus you’ll find when searching for an answer to this question is a resounding no. Mitchell, Lockhart, and Goodman all maintain that their Levi’s jeans, whether new or old, will always be favorites, with Mitchell claiming that her vintage 501s hold up just as well, if not better than those special designer brands that may offer unique design elements or colors, but don’t come close to the same quality. Guerrier echoes this sentiment, explaining, “I feel most designer jeans aren’t reinventing the wheel. They may offer embellishments and washes that are unique, but as far as fit and quality, you can find alternatives.” And finally, Goodman (a stylist who is well-versed in the world of designer brands, lest we remind you), states, “The quality isn’t dependent on whether the name on the label is designer or not. Levi’s is still my favorite denim brand and the biggest designers continue to take notes from them.”

What are tips for washing designer jeans?

Guerrier, Mitchell, Lockhart, and Goodman all agree that designer jeans should be washed as seldom as possible. When you do wash them, you shouldn’t add softening products and should air-dry them if you want the integrity of your jeans to remain as stiff as originally intended. Mitchell also reminds us that jeans with rips or tears should be washed even less often, as this leads to increased fraying and potentially even ripping. Goodman makes a fair point about fit here, too: “If they have a tighter fit I’ll dry them in the machine and if they are a looser fit I’m always sure to hang dry them so that they keep their shape. How you wash your jeans dictates how long they will last you. So, be sure to consider the desired fit before placing them in the dryer.”

Why Shop With Us

Sarah Wasilak is a published writer, podcast host, and the Associate Director of Commerce at Popsugar. She writes across the fashion, fitness, and lifestyle categories with a strong focus on amplifying minority voices in her work, showcasing and uplifting a diverse group of people with every story she writes.

For this roundup, she spoke with Musings of a Curvy Lady creative director Thamarr Guerrier, fashion model and creative Salem Mitchell, lifestyle creator and disabled fashion girl April Lockhart, and wardrobe stylist Nichole Goodman.

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