At this point, every new jeans trend looks awful to me. I realize that I’ve entered the “classics” phase of my life and tired of chasing “the latest.” Now that I need a new pair of jeans, what style would you suggest that is the most enduring but won’t make me look frumpy? — Jackie, Seattle
The fact is, we are living in the era of everything-goes jeans. They are skinny, wide, boyfriend, flared, distressed, stovepipe, acid-washed, upcycled, jegging. Whatever you want, there’s a jeans style for that.
On one hand, this means that every trend is available all the time. On the other, it can mean a closet full of denim and a feeling of confusion about exactly what to wear. This is generally known as option anxiety.
One idea: Cherchez the role model. For that I can offer no better idea than Princess Diana, circa the 1990s. That’s not just because she is having a major cultural renaissance, between “The Crown,” the new “Diana” musical coming to Broadway in November and the much-buzzed-about “Spencer” biopic starring Kristen Stewart. It’s also because she was really the first royal to make wearing jeans a public thing, and in doing so, she managed to bridge the tradition-contemporary divide her position demanded.
And when it comes to Diana, she pretty much always chose straight-leg, high-waist (but not too high) denim. No rips or weird washes involved.
Where to find that today?
“It’s the simplest thing, but also the hardest,” said Samira Nasr, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar. She suggests Feel jeans from L.A. They’re made locally, in essentially one style, which Ms. Nasr calls “the perfect jean” in terms of weight and cut. Like Goldilocks and Little Bear’s chair, it’s not too big, not too soft, but just right.
They’re also relatively expensive, but one way to think about investing in jeans is thus: Add up the amount you’ve spent on cheaper pairs you no longer wear because they’re too associated with a specific trend, then consider the value of a single pair you wear all the time over many years. It’s probably worth it.
Other alternatives to look for include the (natch) ’90s jeans from Everlane, which is pretty self-explanatory; Levi’s (the original — check out the Wedgie fit and try to ignore the name); and Madewell, the perfect vintage jeans. (On sale, these are even better.)
Either way, the goal should be, said Laura Brown, the editor of InStyle, to “feel stride-y and leggy, with no ankle suffering.” She was sitting front row at MaxMara as she said this, wearing (yup) a pair of jeans. Though she remembered where she had gotten them — Citizens of Humanity — she had no recollection of when. Which should be exactly the point.