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Why Do My Jeans Wear out So Quickly?


Why Do My Jeans Wear out So Quickly?
Evgeny Kuklev/E+/Getty Images
Question: Why Do My Jeans Wear out So Quickly?
Dear Budget Style Guide,

Why do my jeans wear out so quickly, especially in the crotch? My boyfriend's jeans last him a million years. I swear he still has the same pair since college and they're not going anywhere. Meanwhile, I've ripped the butt out of my jeans twice in this past year. (Yes, by bending down, and yes, in front of an audience. I am a class act.)

Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening to me? Is there a brand I could buy that lasts longer? A magic spell I could perform that would keep me from exposing my underwear in public? Seriously, I'm getting tired of this.


Caitlin K.

Answer: Dear Caitlin,

When there's a magic spell that prevents the public revealing of underpants, I will give it to celebutantes first, and you second. This is not because I love you less. No, it's because I love all of us more.

But for reals: The unfortunate fact of the matter is that your jeans are wearing out more quickly because of SEXISM. I'm only sort of kidding: Women's jeans, like women's shoes and women's blazers, are not nearly as well-constructed as men's. This is partly because we tend to buy more clothes and have lower expectations of their durability, and partly because we want different things from our clothes than men do, and sometimes have to trade long-lasting material for style.

The bottom line is that women's jeans usually have a higher spandex content than men's jeans do. This is so that they'll hug our curves instead of obliterating them. Jeans that have no spandex at all tend to, at best, do that "boyfriend jean" thing that Katie Holmes gave us a few years ago, and at worst, make us look like we're about to go tend to our crops or paint the house. It's less flattering, is what I'm saying.

The downside to all this figure flattery is that higher spandex content = less durability. Those little stretchy threads are way weaker than cotton fibers and wear out sooner -- often when you're bending over in front of other people, as you discovered to your sorrow.

So what can we do to make our jeans last? Well, for one thing, we can wash them more carefully. Denim should be washed with cold water, inside-out, to prevent fading and wear. I also recommend drying them on low heat, to prevent shrinking. (And when I say "I recommend," honestly, what I'm saying is that my husband recommends it. Of the two of us, one is the person to trust with your laundry, and I am not that person. I know what to do, but I'm super lazy about doing it.)

Which brings me to my next point: If you find a pair of jeans that you love, buy another pair. This is something we all say we're going to do, but we rarely do it. Break the pattern, and stock up on the stuff that makes you feel your best, so you won't have to be sad when your jeans eventually go to that great laundromat in the sky.

Finally, there's no reason to spend a ton of money on jeans. Pricier pairs aren't significantly more durable, or better for the environment or workers, than the cheaper brands. In fact, many designer jeans are made in the exact same factories as the budget stuff.

Hope that helps.


Image: Muffet/Flickr

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