In Ask Sherry, Shop Quality Series, Shopping, Style

Ask Sherry: How to buy quality jeans and How to save money effectively

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

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I have recently gotten tired of buying two or so pairs of jeans every year (they stretch out or fade) and was looking into getting better quality ones that will last years instead. Do you have any affordable but good brand recommendations that are widely available (as I am not from North America or Europe but I do visit Europe once a year or so)?

So I have some good and bad news for you depending on what you consider affordable.

My long answer:

Really good jeans, are generally not affordable unless you buy secondhand (which I recommend doing like on eBay or Vestiaire Collective which is more European than North American).

There have been a few times where I went into H&M and TopShop and tried on their premium denim jeans and was pleasantly surprised at the quality for the price point, but have never bitten the bullet to buy them.

A little background first… I have gathered that the reason why premium denim is so darn #%*& expensive is that it is in the way it is processed.

Apparently all the good denim is manufactured in Japan, and is a mix of 2% spandex/elastane and 98% cotton. Really, GOOD cotton, not necessarily organic, but not scraps.

After you get the fabric, you need to then treat it to dye it dark blue (indigo) and then distress it a little to break it in and make it feel like butter on your butt. The treatment, depending on how ethical you want to go, can be really nasty (no protection, cheap labour in desperate countries, etc), or really good (e.g. the U.S.).

Then you have to actually sew it together, and you need skilled people to do this to make sure the fabric lines up, is properly stitched in neat even stitches and not a rush job. This is usually done in the U.S. from what I have seen of premium denim brands, and they do not rip, tear or stretch even after major wear and tear.


So.. all of that adding up together, you can’t really get a good branded pair of jeans without paying the price.

Lastly, I want to point out that if you buy ONE really good pair of jeans, they will last you for years. I have a pair of premium denim Citizens of Humanity jeans ($228) I bought in 2009 and it is STILL GOING STRONG. No rips, tears, it looks as good as the first day I bought it, and I have worn it to death, even to the park with my toddler, etc.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BD3b3UjvTN1/

I have only stopped wearing them as often because after childbirth, they are a wee bit tight when I have eaten a lot or have become bloated for whatever reason.

So if we think about all the times I have worn that ONE pair of jeans (scored on sale by the way, for $200 CAD at the time).. it works out like this:

$200 CAD / 10 years = $20 CAD a year

If we think that I wore the jeans at least a quarter of the year, cost per wear is:

$200 / (91 days x 10 years) = $0.21 per wear

So… expensive denim? Worth saving up for if you wear it constantly as part of your casual and going out looks (which I do).

That being said, here is what I have tried in the past and my notes:

$50-100 USD range*

*They go on sale and you can get 10% off by signing up for their newsletter, so you can find pairs for $75 or less depending on what you want.

H&M Premium Denim

I have not stepped foot into an H&M in a few years, but as I last recall, I saw jeans for around $50 that were surprisingly comfortable and close to their more expensive brethren.

I cannot vouch for H&M these days, but if you are near a store next time, look out for their Premium Denim label and give them a shot.

Lucky Jeans

Here are all the countries they ship to.

Styles I like: Bridgette (high-rise), and this skinny-legged rinse in the most classic, and the Hayden (high-rise) bootcut.

Level 99

I have a pair of “trendy” Level 99 jeans I couldn’t resist for $30 in a wide-leg dark rinse cut at Winners on MAJOR clearance.

They are normally sold at stores like Anthropologie if you happen to find any where you are but they also ship internationally, but I have found them at Winners and Marshall’s with some luck, but it’s exhausting trying to comb the racks for this brand.

I like their high-rise styles, obviously, and here are a few pairs if you are inclined: here, here, and here.

$200+ USD range

This is the range where I shop for jeans because I only have one pair per style, meaning this is what I own, one of each:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BGpP14KPTFu/?taken-by=saverspender

  • dark rinse high rise skinnies (exact and my FAVOURITE PAIR)
  • medium rinsed high rise skinnies (exact which are my famed Citizens from my example above)
  • dark rinse wide-legged jeans (exact which were from Winners on major discount)
  • distressed jeans (slightly straight-legged & in a boyfriend-cut, let’s just throw ALL the trends in there) (exact and were on major clearance too)
  • dark grey high rise skinnies (exact bought at 50% off during a sale)
  • black coated high rise skinnies (exact, bought on eBay 50% off)

I know it doesn’t seem like it’s very minimalist, and a lot (I mean 5 pairs!?), but they’re either different shades/colours, or styles that I would want to wear, and every time I go into a store and start petting a high-rise pair of dark rinse jeans, I think back to what I have and realize I already own it.

It has helped me cut down on all jean shopping, honestly. I don’t even do it.

Anyway, enough about me.


There are only two brands and styles I like and here’s why:

Adriano Goldschmied Farrah High-Rise jeans

They. Are. Amazing. I have them in this dark rinse, but they also come in lighter rinses. By the way, the lighter the rinse, the softer they feel.

I have never recommended this brand and have had anyone turn me down after trying them, saying: No way, they’re not worth it.

They feel like PYJAMAS. PYJAMAS!! They are comfortable, they keep their shape after being washed countless times, they hug your body without squeezing it like a thick jean sausage, nor feeling like you’re wearing some cheap canvas (I always try to avoid the Olde Ye Timer Gold Rush jeans where it was basically blue-dyed canvas for pants back when jeans debuted for miners).

They are comfortable, stretchy without being saggy and fantastic. You just have to go to my Instagram to see that I wear them religiously as of late because my Citizens are a size too small & I can’t wear them unless I am mentally prepared, and yet I cannot give them up because they’re still great.

They do also come in plain black too, but I already own a pair of coated black jeans so I don’t need them.

Citizens of Humanity Rocket High-Rise Jeans

These jeans come in a huge wide variety of rinses, and colours, which is why I love them. The classic pair I own is this one in a medium rinse, high-rise, in a black coated high-rise, and most recently during a big sale, I found a pair of dark gray jeans.

If I wanted to buy a dark rinse pair, I’d buy these ones.

You’ll notice that if I am not wearing my AG Farrah High-Rise jeans, I’m wearing a CoH Rocket pair.

Here’s where you can shop for all of these premium jeans who ship internationally:

Also, take care of your jeans!

Wash them on cold, button & zip them up, and hang them to dry (NEVER EVER put them in the dryer).

Here are my other laundry tips.

So this super long-winded answer can be summed up in 4 points:

  1. Cheap jeans are cheaply fabricated, manufactured, and quickly sewn, you’re taking a chance when you buy a pair that they’ll last; that’s not to say they’re ALL crap and you MUST spend the money but your chances of finding a good pair are slimmer
  2. You can go cheap if you want, but you may inevitably end up buying yet another $50 pair every 2 years; why not save up & buy ONE great pair that will last you 10? It’ll be cheaper in the long run.
  3. My only two recommendations are: AG Farrah High Rise jeans (dark rinse, medium rinse, grey, or black) or Citizens of Humanity Rocket High Rise jeans (dark rinse, medium rinse, grey, black, or coated black).
  4. Take care of the good pairs you have and they’ll last forever

Good luck! I hope I helped….

Would you consider giving us a house tour? I absolutely loved your closet and fridge posts. I’ve love to see what other parts of your minimalist home look like.

My closet was here, and my fridge was here.

Sure, but I can’t do all of it because it’s still in the stages of being “renovated” and/or some parts are quite distinctive … so it would give away a lot 🙂

I will take pictures of the organized parts of the home.

Be forewarned, I’m a bit shy about it because I don’t think it looks very Pinterest-worthy, but hey.. I’m a real person living a real life.

How do I save money effectively?

Simple to say, not so easy to execute.

Make as much money as you can, and save as much of it as possible, while investing it in the stock market for the long-term in tax-registered accounts.

At a minimum, you should be budgeting & tracking your expenses (a lot of money gets wasted without you even knowing it if you aren’t tracking it, as I can well attest to), and invest those savings.

I’d even go as far as to say you should have money taken out of your paycheque automatically into a savings account which you then immediately plow into the stock market. If you don’t see it, you won’t miss it.

If you want a strategy on on how to make your savings work for you rather than just dumping it into a high-interest savings account and losing out on inflation & returns so that you can take it to the next-level, check out my latest book tailored for U.S. or Canada called Investing Like a Boss – Very Little Work for a Big Reward.

http://likeabossbooks.com/investing

Your investments should also be re-balanced and tracked yearly, which I have a tool for:

http://www.theinvestingtool.com

Thanks for your Bose headphone review! I’ve been on the market for a good pair of noise cancelling pairs. I was wondering what you listen to? What are your all time favourite music artists? Do you listen to podcasts or audiobooks? Also, you say they keep you sane with a toddler… do you just put them on and ignore him for a bit? I get it lol, Thanks!!!

Bose is one of the best brands on the market for sound.

They may not be the sexiest in styling like the Dre Beats, but they have been around the longest and I have never been disappointed with them. The resale value is also great.

I had an old pair (we’re talking 8 years old) that STILL WORKED perfectly and I resold it for $120. Ridiculous.

I am particularly enamoured with my latest Bose QuietComfort35 Wireless headphones (you can check out my IG video here) because they are incredible and here’s my full Bose QuietComfort35 review in detail.

Favourite musical artists:

It depends on my mood, honestly. I listen to everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.

People think I’m lying when I say this, but I really do listen to it all.

I have so many favourites but….

For starters, Marilyn Manson is actually one of my favourites as weird as he is, with Beautiful People as a classic for me, because I love the beat so much.

For classical, I have a penchant for violin & Joshua Bell in particular, playing the Kreisler Album. The first track, called Praeludium and Allegro is my favourite:

Lately, I have been really into jazzy sounds, like Louis Armstrong (old school) or Caro Emerald (more modern), but most recently this song by Caro:

I have also been listening to Drain S.T.H. (a now *sob* disbanded rock group) that I wish were still together. This is my favourite album, and one of my favourite songs of theirs:

And who doesn’t love Beyoncé? I like her Run the World (Girls), but her older stuff is still great, even from Destiny’s Child:

Audioslave’s Like a Stone song is good (in fact the whole album is amazing):

I could go on forever, I have so many to list…but I won’t except to mention The Great Gatsby Soundtrack was also pretty good with $100 Bill & A Little Party.

If you pick one specific genre, I can get into more detail. 🙂

Podcasts or Audiobooks:

Podcasts are more my thing. I like to read books, not listen to them.. maybe that’ll change some day.

  • The New Yorker – A good pulse on what’s happening, but only U.S. based… we’re so close in Canada that I listen to it anyway
  • Leave a Message After the Tone – People literally leave messages (secrets if you will) after the tone & they’re played.
  • Tell me something I don’t know – Interesting facts, anecdotes.. all good stuff for me. Can get a little long though.
  • This American Life – I used to love this podcast but has recently dropped off my list. No idea why. And NO, I hated Serial. I listened to the end and then got angry there was no ending.
  • Under the Influence – marketing & business anecdotes with typically Canadian humour.. (understated & dry!)

That’s all I can think of thus far.

Sanity with a Toddler:

I absolutely 100% believe in having headphones on and IGNORING YOUR TODDLER to regain sanity.

I am also now a ninja at reading toddler body language (need to go potty, am hungry, want attention, etc).


I don’t think that parents who think they have to spend 24/7 with their toddler enriching them, loving them, teaching them, are doing themselves or their children any good. I do not want to be a martyr. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

A little independence is nice, and lately as Baby Bun has gotten older, he has been good at sitting BY HIMSELF in a room and playing without me sitting there. Success!

Sometimes I just have to sit there (and create masterpieces of DIY beauty like this most recent belt), and he is perfectly happy to roll around on the bed, count for me, spell words, etc.

I know I will miss these times as I get older, but that doesn’t mean I should sacrifice my life for my toddler just because I’ll miss it all when I am older.

The way I see it, I’ll miss it anyway and I can’t store up all the good feelings and savour them…… so as long as I am still taking care of him, paying attention and he isn’t worse off, I will keep my headphones on thankyouverymuch.

I don’t do this the entire day either. He also listens to the WORST MUSIC EVER.

I mean, how many times can I listen to The Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle, and all of its reiterations? Any parent is ready to crack after hearing them over and over again.

The music haunts me when I sleep… so the headphones help because I can block it all out and still hear him and part of the video, but in very muted tones. It is also fantastic when he is shrieking or screaming, because my blood pressure stays low, I don’t get anxious or stressed and I find I am less angry overall because my headphones block out his shrieks and tantrums which raise my temper, and I am able to calm him down gently, on his level, and without both of us ending up screaming, red-faced and in puddles of tears.

Win-win I say.

How do you create your galaxy necklaces? I would love to see the process (like they show on etsy). I love the galaxy theme!

Okay! I’ll have to take a picture of the process the next time I do this. Note to self. Right now I am in DIY studding mode, so I may not do any more pieces until later.

In short it’s acrylic paints, brushes, a lot of newspaper / paper to protect surfaces, and time. 🙂

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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6 Comments

  1. J
    Jamie

    Since you like Drain STH and classical, have you listened to any Within Temptation (haunting classical operatic vocals with harder rock or classic music behind) – try Angels for a start. Or, Lacuna Coil? Kinda Evanescence-ish but from Italy. Those are two of my fave band for the last few years 😉

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I am putting ALL of them on my list to listen to. Thanks for the recommendations!

      Reply
  2. L
    Laurie

    I also recommend consignment stores for jeans. I’m 5’3″ and long waisted so I need a short inseam. I’ve lucked out and found a couple of pairs of high quality jeans already hemmed to a good length for me. I’d be hesitant to buy online (without factoring in the tailoring costs).

    My son is 9 so the toddler days are behind me but I still recommend the ignoring technique. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yes! I am a huge fan of consignment stores for clothing 🙂

      Reply
  3. A
    Anne

    Thank you for the very informative answer about quality jeans. I have not worn denim for years, but after twelve years and three pairs of corduroy pants as my weekend pants I feel like I’m ready for jeans again. But 200 USD for a pair! I’ll have to think about it…

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Consider it strongly. 🙂 I really do think they’re the most versatile pair in my entire wardrobe…

      Reply

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