I'm trying on some of the best affordable denim out there that you can count on to make you look amazing - without breaking the bank! In this review, I'm covering Express, Everlane, Levi's, and Madewell. All coming in at around the $100 range (some a little less, some a little more).
I've long heard that Express is a solid contender for great denim - at an extremely affordable price - but had never tried it. Well, the wait is over! I took them up on a $39 denim sale (which happens frequently these days, might I add!). Today I'm reviewing their Super High Waisted Seamed Detail Skinny Jean and the Slim Ankle Hi Rise Jean. More washes of these jeans - including a dark wash, black jean, and an incredibly amazing gray snakeskin print - can be found here.
Keep scrolling for photos and my video review!
Let's start with the Super High Rise Skinny Jean. Overall, I like them. The rise was perfect for my long torso (I'm a major fan of high rise and these are sky high!), but if you have a shorter torso, it may be too high. Seriously, if you haven't tried high-rise, don't wait another day! They are total jean perfection! If you're one that likes major comfort with your jeans and a lot of stretch, this jean delivers. It felt more like a legging than a jean. And I love that it holds me all in. And this seamed detail at the top is so cool and a nice way to further emphasis (or create!) that hourglass shape. Hello - who doesn't want that?!
As of the moment I am writing this, they are having a $39 denim sale, so spring for it if you're interested! But the normal price of $88 is pretty sweet, too!
For those who like all the details, here are the front, side and tush shots!
Now, let's move to the Slim Ankle High Rise Jean. Honestly, I may love these even more than the skinny jean, because I love the way it balances out my shape. They still feel like a skinny jean, but with the slight opening at the ankle, it can balance out wider hips or thighs. To me they feel like the perfect Parisian, classic girl style that can be worn equally as well with flats as you can with booties!
The rise is nice and high (about 1 inch less than the super high rise reviewed above) and they have tons of stretch. Although this pair has more of a denim feel than the skinnies above - which I prefer. Like the skinnies, they fit TTS (I'm wearing a size 2). I love this medium wash for fall, but it also comes in other washes including dark, light wash, grey and distressed if that's more your vibe. Find all those options here.
Front, Side and Tush views shown here.
Watch my video review for even more details of both pairs!
Everlane is one of those solid, classically modern brands that you can count on for perfect basics. And let me tell you, their jeans are totally on point! I tried two pairs from Everlane: their Authentic Stretch Skinny Jeans (Shop the button-fly and zippered versions here, both have multiple washes) and the Original Cheeky Jean (also multiple washes).
The Authentic Stretch Skinny Jeans (Button-fly, or available with zipper fly) are pictured on me here. I'm wearing a size 25 Ankle. For reference, I'm 5'7", and probably would prefer the Regular length as these are a bit cropped on me. But I love that Everlane offers a choice on the length, in ankle, regular or tall. It's a super stretchy and comfortable pair of jean, but a little more of a denim feel than the Express pair. They fit like a glove and hug in all the right places! I think the rear-view is always a big test of whether or not it's a good pair of denim and Everlane knocks it out of the park. The pocket positioning and size are great and are guaranteed to give your tush a nice lift! I love this Vintage Mid Blue wash. Although it also comes in true black and washed black if that's more your style. The zipper fly version has many more washes, including a dark wash, black, distressed and white!
You can't beat the price, at a cool $78 per pair.
The Original Cheeky Jean is pictured on me below, in Classic Blue Raw Hem. I'm wearing my normal size, size 25 Ankle. For reference, I'm 5'7" and on this vintage pair, I love the slightly cropped look of the ankle length. I think it's the best way to wear vintage straight jeans! The tush view is pretty darn good... great pocket placement and size.
If you're looking for stretchy jeans, this is not the pair for you. But for the record, I am completely into the vintage denim-feel jeans right now, and I personally don't mind that it's lower in stretch. The rise on this is 10", so perfect for my long torso! Even after a few hours of wear, these jeans held their shape pretty well. They gave juuuuust a bit, but not enough to feel saggy or baggy. These are a perfect year round jean, obviously a great length for spring summer, and fall. As the weather changes here in the midwest and it gets cold, I will be able to pair these jeans easily with an ankle bootie, for a super cool look.
The cost on these is also $78 a pair, as are all jeans from Everlane! Here is the front, side and rear view of the Original Cheeky Jean.
Watch my video review of both pairs from Everlane here!
One thing you will quickly learn about me if you follow me on social and stories is that I'm a HUGE Madewell denim fan. I tried their jeans a few years back after getting frustrated with buying $30-$40 denim that stretched out and made me look frumpy after just a few hours of wear, and I've never looked back. I own many (ok, about 5-6) pairs of Madewell denim and I wear them all constantly. They are my go-to brand and I've never met a pair I didn't love.
This Slim Demi-Boot Jean is the perfect marriage between a cropped flare and a straight leg jean. It's a super high rise at 11" - which is perfect for my long torso and holds in my waistline perfectly. They have a good stretch to them, but also a heavy denim feel - so this is a great option if you want comfy, but also a true denim feel!
I sized down from my normal to a 24, as any jean from Madewell that has a fair amount of stretch to them can give a little. At first when you put them on, it may feel a little tight but then it relaxes a bit and feels like pure perfection!
At 5'7", this pair hits right at my ankle. If you are shorter, you may want to hem it up a bit to hit your ankle in just the right spot! This demi-boot cut will easily pair with all of my booties for the fall and winter!
Madewell jeans are almost all $128, which is the cost for this pair. You can catch a sale if you wait, and get them around $100! Also, sign up to be a Madewell Insider, which gives you free shipping and returns, and early access to sales. I'm telling you, you won't regret the money you spend on these jeans. Madewell knows denim!
Here is the front, side and tush view of the Slim Demi-Boot Jean.
Watch my video review for alll the details!
Last, but not least, you can't leave out Levi's as a major contender in the high quality, but affordable denim brands. It's a classic option that has upgraded their styles to have a modern feel, leaving you with that effortlessly cool vibe that we all crave!
I own and love my 501 Skinny Jeans - and they still sell the exact pair! (Shop it here.) Like Everlane's Cheeky jean, these are low in stretch and have a heavy denim feel. They stretch just a tiny bit, but not enough to make you feel frumpy or lumpy or saggy. (God forbid!) I love the high rise (they are 11") and the fact that they are "skinny" jeans, but not so tight at the ankle. So freakin' flattering! They also come in a non-distressed version if that's more your style. (Shop non-distressed version here.)
It just doesn't get better than good ol' Levi's if you want that vintage, worn in look. I'm wearing a size 25, my normal size.
Check out the front, side and tush view of the Levi's 501 Skinny Jeans below.
Get all the details with my video review below.
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