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A Question for the Ages: Can You Recommend Some Jeans?

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Love, Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column tackling your hard-hitting fashion issues and addressing a different fashion glitch each week. Submit a query here.

So many denim disappointments, via Feminspire.

Dear Frank,

No matter how many pairs of jeans I buy, I feel like I only wear one or two. I'm constantly on the hunt for jeans that are a) flattering, b) go with everything, and c) won't stretch out or fall apart. When I do finally find a pair I like, I feel like they wear out so quickly. What brands do you recommend and how can I keep them from disintegrating? Right now, I'm switching between R13, Paige and Rag & Bone.

Casual Fridays for Life

Hey Casual Fridays,

Isn't this a question for the ages.

Jeans are so tough—there's never one right answer. Everyone has a different idea of what a fit should be; how denim should wear; how much jeans should cost. And they fit everyone so differently. It's a personal thing, denim—practically on par with bathing suits.

I have been looking for the perfect pair of jeans since I was an adolescent. I have found two pairs to date (despite owning probably 60 pairs (as we speak) from brands ranging from Izod to RRL; Uniqlo to Victor & Rolf; Gap to Diesel; J.Crew to Marc Jacobs). One was a pair of Levi's I found at a flea market in Florence, Italy, in 2004. Unfortunately, it was a fit they never sold here in the States so I was never able to purchase one or 60 additional pairs. And that winter, I slid on a piece of wet trash in Harvard Square and ripped them in 200 places. I wasn't even drunk yet.

A well-loved pair of Acne Max Raw.

The other pair is the Acne Max Raw—a pair of jeans I bought on a whim at the Barneys Warehouse Sale in 2008. These jeans changed my life. They dressed up; they dressed down; they wore beautifully—artfully disintegrating into the loveliest, softest, patina. I wore them to Fashion Week events; I wore them hiking; I wore them to rehearsal dinners; I wore them to Applebee's.

This past fall I noticed the inner thighs were starting to wear through along the seams. A few weeks later—at home, thankfully—I looked down and noticed my fly was down (XYZ!). Except it wasn't down. The zipper had broken.

I mourn these jeans daily. And I will have them fixed. But they're past their peak. They're faded. They're tired. I miss them and all the wonderful times we had together.

Of course, I can walk into Acne today and just buy a new pair of Max Raw jeans. But they're going to look so prim and new; they'll feel so stiff and foreign. And they certainly won't cost what I paid at the Barneys Warehouse Sale.

That's fine, I'll still buy them. Treat yourself. YOLO.

In the meantime I do really like what Gap has been doing with denim. The washes are lovely, they look expensive, and they fit—at least they fit me well. The quality is irrelevant because they're inexpensive (also, emailed coupons); and yet, they last. They wash well and wear well and they don't stretch and sag (I'm looking at you American Apparel and A.P.C.). Uniqlo is also a good bet for cheap filler denim until you procure the jeans that haunt your fantasies.

Of course, there are ways to keep your denim looking fresher longer. Wash them infrequently—sellers at A.P.C. and Acne will tell you to never wash them at all. But that's gross. Just wash them not that often. Further, wash them inside-out, in cold water. And don't put them in the dryer.

I also tend to avoid denim with stretch; or at least anything with more than one (or two tops) percent lycra or spandex, because they will fall off you by midday. Then you'll have to wash them immediately so they fit again. Six washes later they're going to look like garbage.

I hope this helps a little—I didn't intend to ramble on into a personal denim history. I wish you luck.

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