The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

TBB's Denim Guide (Part II): Premium Denim

TBB's Denim Guide: Premium Denim

As promised, I wanted to follow up on the denim guide I posted a couple weeks ago here, and get into more detail on premium denim. I also hope to answer all the questions readers left!
Getting Started
There are so many denim brands, but I’m going to stick with some of the popular brands that you can find at your local department store. This is a great place to start the hunt for your perfect jeans because you can familiarize yourself with the different brands, get a sales associate's feedback, and see what style, cut, and vendor is your favorite.

Premium Denim for Less
Premium denim can be so expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bargain on a great pair of jeans. I found a great pair of AG jeans in my size at a discount store for $11! They had a broken zipper that I got repaired for just $13, so I only spent $24 on a brand new pair of premium denim. I just saw Hudson and AG jeans on Hautelook the last few weeks for great prices. And check your local consignment shop, because they always have denim coming in. Also, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in July features a huge selection of discounted premium denim, so make note of that for next summer!

Popular Premium Denim Brands

Citizens of Humanity (
I think of Citizens as the jean lovers jean, because it has all of the factors people are generally looking for: comfort, stretch, feels like denim, flattering, and great washes. I also have nothing but good things to say about their skinnies, straight legs, and boot cuts. I think their ‘Emmanuelle’ Slim Bootcut is the best, but the ‘Ava’ straight leg and their ‘Avedon’ skinny is just as beloved.

AG (
Adriano Goldschmied denim is the softest denim I have ever touched, and they offer really cool and unique washes. I will admit that AG’s don’t tend to work on all body types, because a lot of them are cut for women with narrow hips in certain styles. But don’t let that scare you off, just remember that when trying on different brands to find your dream jeans. My favorite is their Tomboy jean, it’s the perfect solution to those searching for a boyfriend jean that’s not baggy in the crotch or makes you look frumpy! It’s just a relaxed straight leg that fits in the waist. Also the 'Stevie' (exclusive to Anthropologie) is the best jean for petite girls with a booty. Don’t believe me? Check out the rave reviews.

Hudson (
Yes, the triangle back pockets with the British flag, that’s Hudson! Those back pockets are unfortunately a deal breaker for many, but a lot don’t mind. I don’t think any other premium denim has a baby bootcut quite as flattering as Hudson, it’s the perfect jean to dress up with a pair of booties, wedges, or heels. They also carry certain styles in ‘Supermodel’, which means they have a 36” inseam for those long legged beauties out there.

Mother (
Mother and AG are a toss up for the softest denim in my book! But seriously, Mother has the best flares out there. A lot of people seem the least familiar with Mother, but their designers both came from premium denim powerhouses! Lela Tillem designed for Citizens of Humanity, and Tim Kaeding designed for Seven for All Mankind.

J Brand (
This stretchy and comfy denim is perfect for day to night wear, and their skinnies are the best. Definitely try on your normal size and a size down, because they do stretch out! They have a great fit guide where you can get some information on what works best for you body type.

Paige (
Offers all styles, but their skinnies and straight legs are a customer favorite. Paige is often popular because they offer a high rise in addition to just a mid rise that most of the other premium denim brands carry. They have a great Women’s Fit Guide online, where there’s detailed information about the fit, inseam, and leg opening measurements.

Why Premium Denim Costs More
A huge reason premium denim costs so much is because it is manufactured primarily in the U.S. (source), especially in the Los Angeles area. The United States pays its employees higher wages than other countries, such as China or Mexico. A lot of clothing is made overseas where companies can get away with paying their workers little, thus lowering its overall cost. But from a fashion enthusiast perspective, the U.S. manufactures most of the world's cotton, so I think it’s amazing that the majority of premium denim is made in this country. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s keeping jobs in the U.S.! A huge part of the expense in making denim is laundry treatments, too. There are so many wonderful articles to read on premium denim over at the LATimes, check them out by searching ‘premium denim’.

Budget Babes, where do you find discounted prices on premium denim? What was your best snag?

Image via
I really love Hudson and J Brand jeans.
Definitely my fave picks.

The boot cut Hudson jeans are perf!
#1 Leslie (Homepage) on 2013-10-11 15:21 (Reply)
I've been buying premium for years now and while I'll still buy the occasional cheapie, the premium jeans always fit better and the quality of denim is always better.

Just the other day I scored a pair from Hudson and some 7FAM corduroys from Ross at $39.99 each on clearance. You can find crazy deals if you look at Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Saks Off Fifth, and Nordstrom Rack, especially if you peruse the clearance racks. Online I've found great deals from Hautelook, Gilt, TheRealReal (if you don't mind buying gently used),, The Outnet, and Intermix's sales. Last year I got a pair of Rag and Bone from Intermix for $49.

I used to be a size 16 so I know how frustrating it is for those over a size 12-14 to find high quality denim. James Jeans makes plus sizes as well as regular sizes. I used to buy Svoboda, a line made for the curvy crowd. There's also CJ Cookie Johnson, a premium line made for curvy women up to size 16-18.
#2 StrawberryGirl on 2013-10-11 21:16 (Reply)
none of the brands I looked at carried above a size 14..and I'm a 16 :/ are there more inclusive premium denim brands out there?
#3 anna on 2013-10-12 08:52 (Reply)
I meant nothing above a size 12*... :/
#3.1 anna on 2013-10-12 08:56 (Reply)
Paige actually has plus sizes. I am a 12 and I usually wear a 32 in premium denim so I can have some breathing room. You may need a 33 or 34. Try googling Paige 33 and see what retailers have it. I know it exists, just not at every store.
#3.2 Diane on 2013-10-14 11:54 (Reply)
I bought a pair of J Brand jeans from CrossroadsTrading Co thrift store for about $20. They're really comfy.
#4 Kim on 2013-10-13 14:31 (Reply)
What is the difference between buying a premium brand or something cheaper like American Eagle jeans?
#5 Liz on 2013-10-17 12:21 (Reply)
Leave a comment
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed.
Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.