Five tips to buy a good pair of jeans

Naked people have very little influence on society; we must all at some point face the mountain, and purchase clothes. Welcome to my gent’s shopping survival guide, from shaming common snake oils to emotional coping mechanisms and…


(who’s cute bum is that in those bootleg Levi’s?!?)

Spotting a good quality pair of jeans

It bears repeating that denim is one of the world’s most versatile fabrics. Its signature cotton weave (the diagonal rib) is easily produced in a variety of weights (thicknesses), all of which are durable AF.

As one of the most prevalent garments globally, jeans are sold practically everywhere, so it’s somewhat overwhelming to make a good consumer decision. I recently cast my judgmental eyes over the endless options on offer, and have compiled this list of 5 injeanious steps to buying jeans


(why yes, I’d LOVE to spend R500 on a garment that obviously slipped through quality control)

Tip 1 – Prepare emotionally with aunty google

The looming onslaught of insurmountable racks of hideous garments, pushy sales associates, indecisive partners and bankruptcy is difficult to face. But having a vague idea of what you do and don’t want does help tremendously. A 5 minute breeze through google images is going to give you one hell of a power up to face the world of retail.

It gives you a quick overview of what’s available, and helps ease you into the decision phase so you don’t short circuit when faced with unimaginative retail displays.


Tip 2 – If you want to be cool, be cool

If your friends are bro shaming you for being ‘into fashion’ just punch them in their beard-oiled faces and burn their environmentally destructive clothes…with them inside. If you don’t really give a sh*t, skip ahead to Step 3, otherwise here’s a crash course in what’s hot:

  • Pre-distressed is REALLY lame. Buying clothes that are purposefully damaged isn’t trendy, it’s stupid. You increase the garment’s environmental impact and decrease its longevity, forcing you to buy a new garment sooner. And big brands are laughing all the way to the bank. Switch on! If you want to make a statement about your “hard core” life, rip the jeans yourself.
  • The heavier the better, and keep synthetic fibers below 10%. The thicker the denim the longer it’ll last, and the lower the synthetic content the better it’ll eventually decompose. Avoid stretch denim! You may like the chicken leg look now, but that fad’s a flash in the pan and the spandex wears out pretty fast.


(How do people function in these skinnies from Factorie? Also, that pair hanging up looked kinda interesting, but the fit is a disaster btw)

  • Raw is very cool, and selvage is for the pros. I can’t get too into this right now as I know you’re already falling asleep. You can read more on Textile Learner’s post, and do check out the SoSo Brother’s custom selvage denim company.

Tip 3 – Make snap judgments


(Cotton On’s pre-distressed jeans looking older than I am)

If you properly considered every option you’d shop forever; sweeping generalizations help limit the amount of effort you’d otherwise feel obliged to expend before making an informed decision.

I, for example, won’t shop anywhere with a flickering florescent light, because that’s discrimination against epileptic people. Nor will I buy from a store that plays Justin Bieber. If you want to be #ecofashionable like me, two great yet simple decisions are to buy only 100% cotton and locally manufactured jeans.


(If you’re a cool South African: these sweet fitting Levi’s are locally produced from 100% cotton and retail for around R250. Just saying)

Pro tip: Checking a garment’s consumer information tag is not only interesting, but also a sure fire way to get noticed by a sales associate and signal that you mean business.

Tip 4 – Spot checks

You don’t have to look a garment over for an hour to find a single loose thread and storm out in a huff. But I do recommend at least turning the jeans inside-out and having a quick squiz at the stitching. Loose threads and untidy work means less than absolute dedication to fashion, and you can’t be paying for something like that!? Shoddy workmanship also means lax quality control, and if you couldn’t spend ONE F*CKING NANO-SECOND snipping an obviously loose thread, what other aspects of the garment were simply too much effort to do properly?


(How much of the R800 you’d spend on these jeans do you think goes to gigantic billboards as opposed to employing skilled sewers?)

  • Although it’s not absolutely vital it helps if your inside leg is a flat fell seam (where the fabric is joined in a double fold and fixed with two or more rows of stitching).


  • Give the zip and fly opening a couple jerks to make sure they’re well done, especially at the base of the crotch where there’s a lot of tension. If it looks like they could come apart now they probably wont last too long.
  • The pockets also get a lot of action; in out in out plus rubbing against your leg all day. Make sure the pocket bags are made of sturdy material and that the edges are riveted or tacked in place.
  • Put them on to make sure they’re comfortable. I know this is a mission, but since size charts have become consumer driven and manufacturing globalized, there’s just no way of ensuring anything will fit if you don’t actually wear it. Opt for a snug fit when purchasing, as denim eases up with body heat and over time.

Tip 5-The forearm trick

If all of this is just too much and you’d rather saw off your own arm before going shopping…then send your severed arm to the shops with a trusted friend and you needn’t leave the couch at all.


If the waistband fits snugly around your elbow and fist, you’re sorted. You can now forego all my other advice, drop the cash and run…




RUN!! Run like you’ve just purchased a sweatshop manufactured synthetic fiber monstrosity without realizing who was standing behind you!


Nudie Jeans does fantastic ethical denim btw, which I wrote about here.


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7 thoughts on “Five tips to buy a good pair of jeans

Add yours

  1. mmm,yes, i like the Levis…and judge me if you like, but I also like the pre-distressed from cotton on too! :P They look cool..

    and the forearm trick, does it only work on non-stretch fabric, and does the the same principle apply to women? (hips, bro)


  2. Mmm, yeah. I do like those Levis…250? Thats cheap! But, judge me if you want,inalso like the cotton on pre-distressed…

    The forearm trick, does it only work with non-stretch?


    1. I just can’t get my head around pre-distressed, but i guess whatever works for you. The forearm thing’ll work for anything, you just need to see what works for you. For me it needs to fit super tight, but someone with a belly it might be looser


      1. I’m sorry. I posted multiple comments. I had problems with tech that day. I tried the fore-arm trick on a pair of very cheap, def not mindful,pre-ripped jeans and they fit perfectly. :P

        Liked by 1 person


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