Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Stylish Under-$100 Denim

Dear Belle,

I live in Tri-Cities, WA, and there is almost nowhere to buy jeans.  I go to the mall and I’m forced to choose between Mom Jeans Extreme and Bedazzled Rhinestones on My Ass.  There is nothing in between.  Even when I go to Seattle to buy jeans, I can’t afford to spend a lot on jeans.

I’ve Old Navy jeans but they do not work for me.  Can you suggest a few pairs of budget conscious jeans?

Help me, Skylar

Having shopped for jeans in a mall out West, I feel your pain.  I can’t stand heavy embellishments like sequins, rhinestones and pearls on rear jean pockets.  Why?

Disco beading draws attention to your rear and not in a good way.  It looks dated, very 1998-2001.  And I think that if they’re selling something in the junior’s section at the department store in a town of 25,000 people, it’s probably not modern and chic.  That’s my two-cents on beaded pockets.

Now, let’s find you some stylish affordable jeans.

For my own closet, I buy designer jeans from retailers like 6pm, Bluefly, Nordstrom Rack, Last Call and Loehmann’s.  Because while I like a great jean, I’m not going to invest huge amounts of money in denim.  Lord bless the Internet for making this kind of discount shopping possible.

Looking for bootcut jeans?  I found these great 7’s on Amazon for $69 and these William Rast Seville jeans for $89.  If it’s trouser jeans or wide legs that you’re looking for, I adore these James Jeans for $75 and these Frontier Wide Legs for $60.  And should you be in the market for a pair of skinnies, I noticed these Current/Elliott high rise jeans for $89 and these Paige Santa Monica jeans for $99.

I sometimes find good jeans at Gap.  They’re especially good for trendy styles like boyfriend jeans.  But if you just need an easy basic, try their 1969 jeans.  I like the straight leg jeans, the wash is really nice.

For me, finding good jeans is easiest on the Internet.  I go to the store, try on the style to find my size and then hit Amazon, 6pm and other e-retailers.  Why pay full price for designer denim?  And if you have a suggestion for where to find inexpensive denim, leave them in the comments.



  1. Mia says:

    This will sound crazy- but I love American Eagle jeans. And they’re crazy affordable (between 50-80/pair). I’ve tried on jeans in a range of prices from a ton of designers, but these cheap jeans come in a variety of cuts, colors, and are easily tailored. I have…3? pairs from them right now.

    I’m 27, live in DC, and Belle edited my closet – so hopefully that’s credibility enough to say that I’m not just off my rocker suggesting AE

    March 7, 2013/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I have a pair of AE jeans too, and I think they’re pretty good.

      March 7, 2013/Reply
    • Teri says:

      Seconded!!! I was just jumping on here to say that; their bootcut and skinny jeans work very well for weekend/post-work wear.

      March 7, 2013/Reply
  2. Danielle says:

    This might sound even crazier, but I just bought THE MOST comfortable pair of skinnies from Forever 21. I’ve told everyone I know to get a pair!

    March 7, 2013/Reply
    • Anna says:

      Ditto – my skinny jeans were $10 and came from F21. No embellishment, no logo – just plain jane skinnies that have held up really well.

      March 7, 2013/Reply
  3. Lauren says:

    Second the Gap jeans. Several years back a friend who covers retail for an investment bank asked if I had tried them recently. I explained that unless 1995 qualified as “recently,” then, no, I had not. She went on to divulge that they had really invested in denim and apparently it was paying off. So when I decided to finally take the plunge into skinny jeans, I thought I would give the Gap a whirl…since there was no way I was going to spend good money on such a passing fad. (Ha.) I must say, they are awesome. Three pairs of gap skinny jeans later, they consistently look better than the far pricier designers I occasionally try on – the most recent pair I picked up after the holidays for $19. $19!! My only trifling complaint is that their sizing is a bit more…how shall I put this?…generous to the ego than most, so if you are ordering online or don’t have time to waste, just grab a size or two down from the start.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  4. Alison says:

    I am partial to Express denim (and expanding into Gap denim). They have a lot of “novelty” denim in the repertoire, but they do have a fair amount of basics. They often have a 20% off off all denim promotion during the year, and also frequently do buy one get one 50% off during the summer when the fall collection comes out. When you do that you can usually get two pairs for $100 or less.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  5. CM says:

    Skylar, I spent the summer in the Tri-Cities, so I understand your pain! Due to my body shape, I wouldn’t feel comfortable ordering pants online. I have to try on 100 pairs to find a single pair I like. If I recall correctly, the mall in Kennewick had a Gap and a Macy’s. I actually opted to buy my jeans at Macy’s. Good luck!

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  6. JJ says:

    JCPenney has the best jeans! Yep, I said JCPenney (and I know they have one in the Tri-Cities). They have a brand called A.N.A. I discovered this brand when I was home at Thanksgiving and had an unfortunate mishap in the kitchen. Being in the middle of nowhere I had 2 options: Walmart or JCPenney. My mom has always about JCPenney’s jeans, so I figured what the heck I would check it out (and desperate means call for desperate measures). I went and grabbed a couple of pairs that had no markings on the rear (I didn’t want anyone knowing I was wearing JCPenney’s jeans) and tried them on. Their A.N.A. brand fit amazing. The ones I got were a good dark wash, had the perfect amount of stretch in them, were super comfy, and the best part…on sale for $12 (but normally $20-$30). I actually went back at Christmas and bought another pair of the A.N.A. jeans that were black. I’ve worn all different designer jeans (I’ve found Joes and Paige jeans fit me best) and now I cycle my Penney’s jeans in with my more expensive stuff. Really though…I wonder why I ever spent up to $200 on a pair of jeans when these $20 jeans look just as good on me!

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  7. Lindsey says:

    Just a note about the 7’s listed above… To clarify, these are not 7 For All Mankind jeans. Some people get confused between the two since they have similar names…

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  8. KLV says:

    Belle – didn’t see the rise on the 7s you posted from Amazon. Do you have them/know what it is?


    March 7, 2013/Reply
  9. Short & Sweet says:

    Would love some suggestions for petite curvy women. I’m 5’2″ and fit into a size 2 except it always has the dreaded waist gap. I can alter trousers to close the gap, but I’m worried that heavy denim material will destroy my sewing machine. I could get my jeans tailored, but still… I’ve NEVER found off-the-rack jeans that fit me and usually just stick to jeggings or skirts. I feel like I must be oddly shaped or something.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
    • Vanessa says:

      ‘m 5’3” and have a tiny waist with a fuller bottom half. I love Levi’s curve ID straight leg jeans. There are 4 cuts (demi, slight, bold and supreme curve) and the website will tell you which one you are based on a few questions but I reccomend trying them on because I really like the demi curve even though I’m supposedly the supreme curve. And they sell them at Kohl’s if you don’t want to order them online 🙂

      March 7, 2013/Reply
    • Colleen says:

      Try Joe’s Provocateur fit. I love them and no need to hem! Not sure where you live, but I just bought a pair at Neiman’s Last Call for under $75 which isn’t much more than a pair of jeans at GAP or somewhere similar. Love them!

      March 7, 2013/Reply
  10. Cheri says:

    Nordstrom has some great jeans that are not crazy expensive. I love their Jag Jeans and Kut from the Kloth. The latter are always on sale for around $49. I think full retail is $79ish for both brands.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  11. Meg says:

    I’d like to add to the American Eagles jeans love! Yes, at 29 I feel a little old walking in the store full of teens, but their skinny jeans are my “high-end” version (hah!) of the old navy ones – great fit for my curvy figure and the quality is excellent. Even better, they are always on sale. I used to buy the Old Navy jeans like they were going out of style, but after re-buying my favorite pairs every few months after they wore out, I bought the AE ones and they are significantly better quality and fit amazingly.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  12. Laura B says:

    I almost exclusively buy Levi’s when they are on sale on Zappos. Because the shipping and return policies are so amazing, I find that it’s worth buying a pair I like in a few sizes and washes and sending back what doesn’t work.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  13. Whitney says:

    I also love Gap’s jeans, especially the Long & Lean. The L&L’s are the best fitting bootcut jeans I’ve ever owned, but you have to size down TWO sizes. The best skinny jeans I’ve ever bought are from Madewell; their Skinny Skinny jeans hover right around the $100 mark (less when on sale or promo). Plus, they have the “Genius Jeans Guarantee”: free shipping and returns on all jeans purchased online.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  14. Pancakes says:

    As embarrassed as I am to say this, much less walk into the store, I really like Abercrombie’s jeans. I wear the skinny skinny jeans, and they are perfectly skinny — not like a legging at all — and are TTS. I’m sure their bootcut and other cuts are great, too. Just opt for the dark solid washes and not the destroyed denim, and your jeans won’t even scream Abercrombie.

    You just have to get over the fragrance-filled store and blaring music. But I SWEAR by their jeans. It’s very odd. I never wore them in middle school, high school, or college.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  15. Giggling Gourmand says:

    I love J Brand and can often find them on sale for less than 100 if I keep an eye out. Barney’s outlet stores are sometimes a good bet.

    March 7, 2013/Reply
  16. Julie says:

    I love my Ralph Lauren jeans!

    March 12, 2013/Reply