What do you have to pay to a get great pair of jeans? With so many options and price ranges -- the typical designer pair retails for about $130, while a higher-end designer can sell for more than $1,000 -- heading to your local department store can become a nightmare. Charla Krupp, executive editor of Shop Etc. magazine and “Today” show contributor, explains how to be a smarter jeans shopper and find the best jeans for your body type.
The average American woman owns seven or eight pairs of jeans, depending on her age. Statistics say that “Generation X” owns 8.12 pairs of jeans, baby boomers own 6.89 and older women own 5.14. That can easily add up to $1,000 invested in your jean wardrobe.
What makes these denim duds so expensive?
Embellishment can jack up the price on any pair. One of the priciest is made by Chanel and can sell for as much as $1,090. Why? The double C logo on the back pockets is made of pearls and crystals created in the same Paris atelier as the designer’s high-quality costume jewelry.
Another example of embellishment at an easier price point are Marciano jeans, which have a rhinestone M on the back pocket and retail for $150 (866-44-MARCIANO or marciano.com.)
Aside from embellishments, it is fabrics and finish that really boost the price of jeans today. The time-consuming process of dying, rinsing and finishing represents close to half the wholesale cost of a pair of jeans. The longest lasting and highest quality denim is imported from Japan and Europe. How many of you can remember the days when you had to distress jeans yourself? A friend once confessed that she would drive over her jeans 150 times to give them that soft, broken-in look. To buy jeans that have been softened, with the perfect fade, can take ten or more rinses and that demands a huge labor force. Notify’s "Aramus" with built-in whiskers sell for around $315 (800-695-8000, or nordstrom.com.)
The third reason jeans are so pricey is that women now demand a super fit. Jeans practically work as shape wear and are tested many times to make sure each size for each style fits perfectly. They even test jeans after shrinkage. This is called fit technology and we love that it makes us look much better than the old pair sitting in the closet.
UBI jeans is a new premium couture line designed to create the most slimming silhouette. Before it hits the shelves, this jean goes through 12-25 hours of hand washing and distressing. They sell for $180-$350 (Cantaloup, 212-249-3566.)
When to wear 'em
The good news is that although they may cost more, these pricey pants are good for every occasion.
Best weekend jeans: Citizens for Humanity's "Faye" jeans. Sold for approximately $174 at Bloomingdale's (800-232-1854.)
Best jeans for work: Trouser-style jeans from Joe’s Jeans called Bianca, $145. They work for work because they are a dark indigo rinse, they have a clean no-button closure at the waist, there is no top-stitching which makes it more casual, and the pockets are chino-style, Beson pockets which are more tailored. They are tapered from hips to thigh with a slight boot cut at the leg. Available for about $145 (Barney’s New York, 888-822-7639.)
Best jeans for the money: The most affordable jeans are Levi’s Signature. They sell at Target for $19.99. Another well-priced option is Lee Jeans, available at JCPenney’s for $29.99.
Best white jeans: You can wear white jeans year-round so you need to have a pair in your closet right now. Check out Salt "Avenue A," $121 (Scoop, scoopnyc.com.)
The newest trend in jeans? The butt-lifters jean. Blue Cult Butt-Lifter is engineered to give the illusion of a higher and rounder derriere. The secret is the strategic placement of the back pocket. The special fabric stretches, rather than sags. Blue Cult "Butt Lifter," $140 (Shopbop.com.)
And, for those who want to try on jeans in the privacy of the bedroom, check out Uplifters from the Victoria Secret catalog. Order several sizes and return what doesn’t fit. The fabric inside is similar to the stretch you'd find in shape wear to give you an instant lift. The Blue London Jean "Uplifter," $88 (Victoria's Secret Catalog, 800-888-8200, or victoriasecret.com.)
Flash fashion bulletin: Higher-waist jeans are on the rise -- good news for women over 30 who don't love to show their thongs.