I Have to Buy New Jeans. Help!

I am in need of new jeans. I haven’t purchased a pair since before the pandemic. I am looking for jeans that are in style and won’t be out in a year. What is the most sustainable approach to denim, in style, material and care? — Katherine, Northport, Ala.

The irony of finding the perfect pair of jeans is that its very discovery contains the seeds of its destruction. After all, once you’ve found your ideal jeans, you wear them, over and over again, until, no matter how hardy they are, you wear them out. And then you’re stuck with the horrible task of trying to replace them.

Which often seems impossible, because even when you’ve bought what you think is a forever pair like, say, Levi’s 501s, it turns out they, and your body, have changed.

(This means that even if you try that classic hack and buy two pairs of the same pants to put one away for the future, it doesn’t always work. What fit a 35-year-old you perfectly does not always fit the 40-year-old you perfectly.)

Besides, there are now so many different kinds of jeans to choose from! Do you want designer jeans, fast-fashion jeans, cult jeans, jeans that claim to be more or less sustainable, dressy jeans, distressed jeans, boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, selvage jeans, boot-cut jeans, high-waist jeans, low-waist jeans, jeans with stretch or what? Pretty much every brand makes a pair. There’s a reason the denim market is predicted to be valued at around $87.4 billion in 2027, up from $63.5 billion in 2020.

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