When Levi Strauss invented blue jeans in the 1800s, he charged $1.25 per pair. A buck twenty-five won't get you much these days, certainly not a pair of jeans. By contrast, a pair of original-original Levi's can now fetch nearly $100K, but most people aren't looking to spend that much for some dungarees.
If you don't want to spend more than $50 for a pair of jeans, there are still plenty of options; some better than others. Here are the ones worth grabbing.
Best All-Around Jeans
You can still get a pair of raw denim for a pittance and it'll come from the originator itself. The 501 Shrink-to-Fit Jeans are the gold standard that every other brand tries to emulate and you can't get much better than this for much cheaper. Plus, you can frequently find 'em on sale for even sweeter savings.
Selvedge denim used to be reserved for denimheads willing to spend a few hundred dollars on their blue jeans. Uniqlo figured out a way to bring it to the masses for much cheaper. These jeans come raw and ready for you to fade yourself. If you're looking for a more comfortable experience straight off the rack, Uniqlo's non-selvedge options will also fit the sub-fifty bill.
Sub-$50 jeans doesn't limit you to just blue jeans. The original blue jean would obviously make this list, and so does its optic white variant.
If you're looking for something with double the durability, Carhartt's double-knee Logger Jeans is it. Made from a beefy 15-ounce denim with a hint of stretch, it's got enough heft without sacrificing comfort.
The jeans of choice for cowboys, Wrangler's jeans are tough as they come. Though Wrangler makes a full variety of different fits, it's perhaps best-known for its bootcut jeans. These are made without any elastane, just all-cotton denim and feature a slim cut that's long enough for some serious stacking.
Gap got its start in blue jeans in 1969 and has been a go-to for the classic five-pocket ever since. Though many of its jeans are over fifty bucks, you can frequently find them on sale. These are perfectly washed out jeans that are great for year-round wear thanks to its 12.5-ounce denim. Plus, if you're more conscious of your consumption, they're also made using recycled cotton to reduce its impact.
Madewell jeans are known for great-fitting cuts in equally appealing washes. While its jeans average over $100, Madewell's frequent sales mean you can catch some serious deals without waiting too long. These light-wash jeans are made using Japanese denim from Kaihara mills (a favorite of self-professed denim obsessives) and come with a handful of tencel, making them one of the most comfortable you can find.