As far as denim goes, selvedge reigns king. It’s just durable as hell. But most examples you’ll find will run you back more than $150 and they take a while to break in. Fortunately, the bottom end of the market is filled with jeans that look good and fit the second you put them on — no break in required. They might not last a lifetime. But they’ll get you through the weekend.
Gap Slim Fit Jeans
Gap’s slim black jeans are a steal. Note, however, that they fit on the looser end of slim, so they look more tapered than full-on skinny. The black hue makes them a great anchor for double-denim pairings.
Wrangler Cowboy Cut Slim Fit Jean
If you want to hop on the stonewashed bandwagon without dishing out big bucks for brands like Acne, these Wranglers are a solid option at a good price. Plus they’ll pass muster in South Texas, which counts for something.
Levi’s 501 Jean in Optic White
The biggest mistake with white jeans is to treat them too kindly. But Levi’s classic 501 fit in Optic White is a straight-fit jean that looks best a little busted up. At $40, don’t be afraid to get these dirty. You can always buy another pair.
Lee Modern Series Slim Tapered Jeans
Once upon a time, Lee and Levi’s were the two biggest names in American denim. The former has faded from glory, but still makes a solid jean for under $50. The brand’s straight leg fits run a bit wide, so opt for their Slim Tapered Jeans, which fits closer to a 501 than anything.
Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim-Fit Jeans
Buying a pair of selvedge denim jeans for $50 would be impossible if it weren’t for Uniqlo. Like most clothes from the Japan-based retailer, the fit is trim and flattering without being tight. Uniqlo’s clothes also last longer than other fast-fashion brands’ wares do, so you’ll hold on to these jeans for a few years if you treat them right.