3 Tests to Do With Your Jeans to Ensure You’ll Love Them

Entering fall means it’s time to talk denim!  I have always loved wearing jeans, but it hasn’t been until the last year or two that I’ve felt completely happy with my jeans.  In the past I bought what I thought were the “perfect” jeans, only to be frustrated halfway through the day when they stretched out, lost shape, and got awkwardly saggy.  Not to mention how annoying it is to have to pull your jeans up all the time!  I also bought pairs of jeans that looked really good with flats, but once boots weather came around I discovered too late that those jeans didn’t look right with my ankle boots or with my riding boots.  I hated spending money on jeans to later discover all these things that were problematic about them.

Having learned from years of mistakes with dozens of jeans, I finally realized I just need to test my jeans before I pull off the tags and decide to keep them.  It’s better to do it on the front end when you can still return things rather than discovering them later and having to pay for it.

So, here are 3 very simple things I do to test my jeans once I think I’ve found a great fitting pair.  While there is a LOT of ground we could cover to troubleshoot all fit problems with jeans (like, finding jeans that you don’t have to pull up even if they’re not stretched out, figuring out which rise is best for you depending on your midsection, or how jeans should even fit you in the first place) all of that is too much to cover in one post.  Today I just want to focus on what to do to minimize buyer’s remorse when you think you’ve found the perfect pair of jeans.

These might seem like obvious things to do, but I’m always surprised by how often I hear women lament about wasted money because of these problems.  A few little tests on the front end would save a lot of heartache and money!

3 Ways You Should Always Test Your Jeans


THE SIT TEST: Sit, bend over, and squat in them.
My mom used to make me do this in dressing rooms, but I’ve learned that not all women try this with their jeans before pulling off the tags.  Sit in them.  Bend down in them.  Squat.  I plan to wear jeans to chase kids around, run errands, and basically do anything.  If I’m not comfortable sitting in them, squatting in them, or am annoyed that they fall off my hips way too far when bending over, I will not want to wear them and they’ll sit in my closet.  You need to be comfortable in your jeans and not feel like they’re restricting your movement in any way or else they’re not worth your money.  All of my jeans have so much stretch to them, but they aren’t jeggings.  They’re thick, hold in my extra jiggle, maintain their shape, are comfortable enough to do a lot of movement in–and stay on my hips while doing so.  There are millions of jeans out there, and though it’s a pain to find great ones, it’s worth it!  

If you have problems with jeans revealing your rear when you sit or bend over, try a pair with a higher rise, especially a higher back rise.


SHOP THE OUTFIT:

THE SAG TEST: Wear for *at least* 3 hours around the house.
We’ve already said saggy jeans are frustrating.  I’ve experienced sagging with jeans at all price ranges, from cheaper brands to expensive $100+ designer jeans.  I’ve also experienced amazing jeans that retain shape over multiple wears with jeans across all price ranges.  While some brands tend to retain shape better than others, every pair of jeans is always different, even within the same brand.

To test this, I wear my jeans around the house with the tags on for at least 3 hours to see if they’ll stretch.  If they do get saggy yet everything else about them is great, I would exchange them for one size down and do the test again to see how the size down fits after 3 hours of wear.

One example is with my Old Navy Rockstar jeans. (The ones I’m wearing in the pics above.)  If you were around last fall, you have heard me talk about these a ton. But for everyone else, this is a very important lesson to apply to all jeans. I read reviews that these stretched and sagged and people were unhappy with them. I read other reviews of people saying to size down 1-2 sizes. It sounded crazy to size down two sizes, but since shipping and return shipping are free with Old Navy, I had nothing to lose.

I’m normally size 6/8 and got these in 4. They started out SO tight!  I could get them on and zipped, but they looked almost painted on because they were so tight. I wore them around the house for 2 hours and they were still tight. At around 3 hours, they had stretched a little and felt looser.  They no longer looked painted on either, rather they actually looked like a perfect fit.  Being skeptical, I thought they would continue stretching out a lot more, but after a full day of wearing, they hadn’t stretched beyond that initial loosening and maintained that perfect fit all day. I kept them and wore them for like 4 more days straight (because I’m gross like that) and they still didn’t stretch anymore!  They had maintained that perfect fit for multiple wears before washing.  If I had stuck with size 6, I would have been one of the people complaining that these stretched out and got saggy.  With sizing down, they were perfect after the initial stretch, and they have been my absolute favorite jeans! 

So, 1) test your jeans.  2) Try sizing down if they sag.  Sizing down does not always fix the problem, but it’s worth trying if all else is right with the jeans.  If you still don’t like them, move on and find a better pair!

*I have the Old Navy Rockstars in 6 colors, and they are all different sizes.  Most fit me in size 4, but in one color I got size 6.  In some other colors I’ve tried the 4s were too tight and I couldn’t even zip them up.  All are different, so always buy two sizes and always do the stretch test.  


**Also, unfortunately my very favorite pair of Rockstars shown above are not available at the moment.  If they come back this year, you’d better believe I’m going to shout it from the rooftops and let you all know!  One pair that is fairly similar, except the size 4 did not fit me and I needed to try size 6, is HERE.  Old Navy has tons of other Rockstar jeans HERE.

Pairs of Jeans That Don't Sag!

Below are jeans that I personally own that do not get saggy.  For sizing reference I’m 5’6″ and usually size 6/8 or S/M.
THE SHOE TEST: Try them with several different types of shoes.
This is definitely based on preference for how you want your jeans to look with your shoes, but I’m throwing it out there because I’ve heard so many women say they can only wear a particular pair of jeans with ONE pair of shoes because of how the jeans are cut or how wide the leg opening is.

I personally like when my jeans have a skinny, tight fit with ankle boots, flats, and riding boots.  However, a few years ago, my skinny jeans had pretty wide leg openings and looked a little more like slim fitting straight leg jeans.  They looked fine with flats, but once I rolled them up with ankle boots the fit wasn’t tight like I wanted it to be.  My jeans also looked baggy and bulged at the knees with riding boots because overall the leg wasn’t skinny enough.  I personally hated having jeans that could only work with flats or heels but didn’t work with ankle boots.  Now I look for a skinny ankle and test my jeans to make sure I like how they look with a variety of shoes.

Again, this is dependent on how you want your jeans to look with your shoes.  Some of you might like your jeans to be a little looser when rolled up with ankle boots.  But, regardless of whether you want a skinny, fitted look like I do or whether you have a variety of preferences depending on the shoes, try the pair of jeans with all of your main shoes.  My main shoes are: a pair of simple flats, my go-to pair of ankle boots, a pair of riding boots, and white slip-on sneakers.  If your jeans look how you want them to with a majority of the shoes you’d want to wear them with, then you’re probably good to go.  If they only work with ONE pair of shoes, you might want to move on to finding a pair that would work with at least two pairs of shoes.  

*One caveat is that you will probably need two different pairs of jeans for heels versus flats for denim  cuts other than skinny jeans.


How to Find Jeans You'll Love
SHOP THE OUTFITS:
(L to R, top row first)

Again, I know these seem obvious, but I can’t stress them enough.  I have talked to soooo many women that complain about one or all of these things, especially the latter two!  You have to trust that you CAN find jeans that will not sag, that you can be really comfortable in jeans even while doing a lot of movement, and that one pair of jeans should be able to work with multiple types of shoes.  Don’t settle until you find jeans like that!

Denim Brands as a Starting Place
I already gave you a list of specific pairs of denim that I own that meet all my hopes for jeans, but let’s now open it up to brands that tend to have a good track record.  Please remember that not every single pair of jeans from the same brand is created equally, so read reviews regarding stretch and sizing and all that.  But at the very least, this should point you to the right playing field for good, comfy, stretchy jeans that won’t sag.

These brands tend to have jeans under $100.  I avoided listing designer jeans because while they’re great, I think you can find ones you’ll love at lower price points.


For an idea of where I’m coming from, in the last 5 years I have owned multiple pairs of jeans from Target, Old Navy, LOFT, Wit & Wisdom, Paige Denim, Caslon, Lucky Brand, and tried them from many, many, many more brands.  While I have found *one* good pair from some of those brands, that same quality may not have spanned across the whole brand.  The brand listed below have several pairs that I felt good about. 

  • Wit & Wisdom – Tend to be very stretchy without sagging.  Vary in thickness, depending on whether it’s a regular pair of denim or a jegging.
  • Kut From the Kloth’s Diana Cut – Usually very stretchy and thick, but usually need to size down a LOT because they are so stretchy.  (I like these a lot and am pointing you to them but usually don’t purchase Kut From the Kloth myself because the rise is too high for me.  Material is great though.)   
  • Kut From the Kloth’s Donna Cut – From what I remember trying these on briefly is they are thinner than the Diana cut above, but also stretchy.  
  • Old Navy Mid-Rise Rockstar Jeans – All over the map in softness, thickness, and sizing, but all 6 colors I own do not lose shape after that initial 3-hour stretch.  They are very affordable, especially with Old Navy sales.
  • Articles of Society – A lot of people love these, though honestly I prefer any of the other 4 brands listed above.  From the few I’ve tried on, I recall them being fairly stretchy but also fairly thin and not great at holding in my jiggles, haha!  But they are often on sale, around $38-$50.  I’d still prefer Old Navy Rockstars or would pay a little more for Wit & Wisdom though. 
Do you already do any of these tests before deciding to keep a pair of jeans?  Are there any you need to start doing?

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Katie Ross
    September 7, 2017 at 7:16 am

    If you return ones that sag, do you tell them that you wore them for three hours (or otherwise acknowledge that?) and that they sag, or what do you say? And do they say anything in response or just say, ok? (I have a couple of pairs that I wished I’d done that with!)

    • Reply
      Audrey @ Putting Me Together
      September 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

      I usually don’t say anything and just return them. I’ve done it both in store and online through mail. I just say I don’t like how they fit. A couple of times I have acknowledged that they get saggy but I don’t say I wore them for 3 hours–not cuz I feel the need to hide it but more cuz I don’t think they care. Many stores like Old Navy, Target, and definitely Nordstrom (at least the ones in my area) don’t even care if the tags are attached or not. Also, at all 3 of those stores I’ve returned something with no tags that I even wore and washed, and I told them it shrank in the wash and I was unhappy with that, and they accepted it. (Wasn’t sure if they would, but they did!) All to say, I don’t think they care or even need to know that you tried jeans for 3 hours versus 3 minutes, especially if you leave the tags on. 🙂

    • Reply
      LoriM
      September 13, 2017 at 5:56 am

      I wondered about this, too.

      Awesome post, Audrey; once again I’m so glad I have bought FOUR different colors of this top; need to mix up how I’m wearing it; I don’t often tuck it in.

      • Reply
        LoriM
        September 13, 2017 at 5:57 am

        I think I’m going to print out the collage for my closet inspiration. 🙂

  • Reply
    Christine Newman
    September 7, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Thank you for this. I have so many pairs of jeans in my closet, but I only wear a select few pairs. I’m actually going to use your tests to purge the pairs that I no longer want in my closet. I think it will be very eye-opening!

  • Reply
    Bethany @ CuteCapsuleLife
    September 7, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Great tips!

  • Reply
    kd
    September 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I need to implement ALL of these tips lol I have been thru many jeans. But I def want to try out your old navy rock star jeans, the ones your wearing! Let me know when the back in stock ad I will swipe those up in a heart beat!

  • Reply
    Sarah Clews
    September 7, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Great post! This is so helpful. I’m thinking I will give the Old Navy jeans another try.

  • Reply
    Danni
    September 7, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I just made these exact mistakes I bought two new pairs of jeans and thought I loved them in store. Two wears later I ran for the train yesterday and they basically fell off! They have stretched so dramatically I probably could have sized down by two sizes!

  • Reply
    Hallie
    September 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    So, if you wear them for three hours and they stretch to the right size, when you wash them, do they shrink back and you have to start all over again?

    • Reply
      Audrey @ Putting Me Together
      September 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      With the Old Navy Rockstars, yes. With the rest of the jeans I listed, they actually don’t even stretch out. They’re basically good from the start and don’t sag.

  • Reply
    Monica
    September 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    HI Audrey.
    Great post – I always get excited and rip off the tags right away but will use more restraint in future!

    A slightly off topic question – you’ve mentioned the Zella live in leggings as the leggings you wear – I’m wondering if they are shiny or matte? And what size do you take in them?

    Thanks – love your blog!

  • Reply
    Jillian Dicosimo
    September 7, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I recently found your site and I’m taking it all in. I’m on the process of losing weight (25lbs so far!) and I love learning how you put together outfits. I’ve lived in sweats

  • Reply
    Jillian Dicosimo
    September 7, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I recently found your site and I’m taking it all in. I’m in the process of losing weight (25lbs so far!) and I love learning how you put together outfits. I’ve lived in sweats for the past 12 years while raising my 9 kids. My youngest is just 2, but I’m ready for a change. It’s overwhelming after not caring at all about my clothes for so long, so your site is definitely a huge help. Thanks for inspiring me to continue to lose weight so I can buy all the pretty clothes you suggest!

    • Reply
      Audrey @ Putting Me Together
      September 9, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Welcome, Jillian, and congrats on the 25lbs so far! That’s an amazing amount of work and dedication. What’s also amazing is that you have 9 kids–superwoman! I love hearing about the changes you’re making for yourself. Good luck on the rest of your weight loss and with figuring out your wardrobe again!

  • Reply
    Charlene H.
    September 9, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I ALWAYS learn so much from your blog! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 9, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    This is such a useful post! I feel like these are all things I knew already, but for some reason I never actually do them. I’m probably just a lazy shopper 😉 And I agree that the Old Navy Rockstars are fantastic (and I feel like they get better every year as they get more feedback). Have you tried the new Buit-In Sculpt or 24-7 Rockstars? I’m curious to know how they compare and if you think they are worth the more expensive price compared to the regular Rockstars.

    • Reply
      Audrey @ Putting Me Together
      September 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      I definitely feel like the Rockstars have been getting better each year. A few years ago I didn’t even like them, and I only tried them again because another blogger I respect who usually buys pretty high quality items said they were her favorite jeans.

      I tried the Built-In-Sculpt last winter, I think in both white and black. My memory is fuzzy and I didn’t do a detailed analysis of them because I was trying so many jeans at once. But, I *think* I didn’t like them as much for a couple reasons. First, I think the material was stiffer and I didn’t like that feeling. I like soft jeans! 😀 Second, they didn’t stretch out much. I sized up from my usual 4 to size 6 and there ended up being too much room in the crotch, even though the legs fit me.

    • Reply
      Marshonne Walker
      September 14, 2017 at 7:14 am

      I totally agree with Audrey – the Sculpt rockstar jeans are stiffer with the fabric. But they are awesome. I’m plus size: anywhere between a 20w to a 24w in jeans. I actually can wear the Sculpt rockstar in a MISSES 18 or 20 tall. I do think they require so trying on; but for me, I literally won’t wear any other skinny jeans!
      Thanks Audrey for having such an amazing blog- I love this place 😋

  • Reply
    Diana @ Bumps Along the Way
    September 10, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I love the distressed ON rockstars, wearing mine right now and would definitely but another identical pair if they come back! I have olive green ones from a few years ago that I really like too because the fabric seems to be thicker and studier than regular jeans, in a good way. I’ve been very pleased with my rockstars! Probably my favorite ON purchases in years, along with puffer vests. Hahaha.
    I DEFINITELY try on all pants at home with a variety of shoes and tops. SO hard to find good ones but worth the time!

  • Reply
    Lisa Snider
    September 11, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Great post! I have 4 Kut Diana, 2 AoS, 2 Rockstar (amazing value, and I agree re: sizing; I always order multiple sizes, pick my favorite and return the rest). Looking forward to trying W&W Ab-Solution!.

    • Reply
      Lisa Snider
      September 11, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I neglected to mention that the Express mid-rise jeans are my absolute favorite. They’re almost always on sale (never pay full price).

  • Reply
    laura kingery
    September 11, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Wit and Wisdom have the ABSOLUTION jeans… In caps because of their complete AWESOMENESS!!! $44 is a little more than old navy, but they are worth it for the elastic inside the waist band. I have two pairs right now, and will be adding more as I need them! Isn’t it great when you find the perfect jeans??!!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Audrey @ Putting Me Together
      September 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Hahaha! Yes, I definitely agree they are worth the slightly higher price than the Old Navy jeans, for the waistband as well as for the softness. ABSOLUTION because you ABSOLUTELY MUST GET THEM. 😛

  • Reply
    Deborah Boland
    September 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

    An excellent point about the Rockstar jeans. When trying on jeans, women (and maybe men?) think they should size up because a fresh pair of off-the-shelf jeans is snug but you’re absolutely right, give them a break in period and they’ll often stretch and sag – a not-so-good look on us over-40 gals, or anyone else for that matter. Great post!

    Deborah Boland, fabulousafter40.com

  • Reply
    ladyj
    November 28, 2017 at 12:44 am

    My three yes for jeans. Is inseam. I need the inseam to be at least 32 inches or more. Iam 5’9 naturally. I live in heels , wedges sandels. I need length be long enough. The second thing is size. I need size 3 or size 4 in misses. I have a tiny waist and big hips.Third I have to do sit, swoop stand test. Audrey my mom used make me do sit swap bend test to with jeans and pants. Iam so glad she made me do it because now I have jeans fit great.

  • Reply
    Irai Rod
    March 5, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Just for laughs, I want to share a “tip” I learned in my teen years living overseas: Get the smallest jeans that will zip up, wash them, and put them on still damp. Then do all the stretching, squatting, and bending you describe…let them dry on your body and you’ll end up with fantastic fitting jeans. Repeat 2-3 times, and the jeans will “learn” your shape and mold themselves to the curves of your body. This is, of course, especially effective with real denim jeans (less so with jeggings or anything with a high “elasticity” content). I’m old enough to remember when jeans did *not* have lycra, spandex, elastane, or any type of bi-stretch fibers, so drying them on one’s body was the ticket to make them fit the way skinnies fit nowadays. I even remember us girls blow-drying each other’s jeans while they were on so they’d fit juuuuuust right before going out! Hahahaha! To be that silly again!

    • Reply
      Audrey @ Putting Me Together
      March 6, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Haha! Oh gosh, I can see that being effective, but I HATE wet denim!! Good memories of blow drying each other’s jeans though. How funny!

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