An Ode to Non-Stretchy Jeans

An Ode to Non-Stretchy Jeans

Lately, I’ve been noticing women wearing jeans that look old-school and noticeably flattering. (Specifically? Their butts look amazing.) Did they know some secret I was missing out on?

Then, I figured it out. They were all wearing Levi’s 501s.

Curious, I spoke to L.A. stylist Jessica de Ruiter about the jeans she swears by. “When you’re wearing 501s,” Jessica says, “you never look like you’re trying too hard. You don’t have to wear skintight jeans to be really sexy.”

According to Jessica, the trick is to pick a pair (of whichever brand) that’s 100% cotton, so they’re not stretchy. “Blue jeans are inherently work pants; there’s a history there, so I don’t want stretch,” she says. Also, with a classic fit, that magical butt is attainable. “The low-waist stretchy jeans we’re all used to cut your butt in half and flatten it,” she explains. “You don’t get that full, complete shape and curve that’s naturally sexy.”

The best fit for non-stretchy jeans is high-waisted and tight at the top. “Often, that means you buy a pair that’s a little too small at the waist and then you break them in,” says Jessica. “I also like when they’re a bit cropped. It’s flattering to show a little ankle bone.”

For new jeans, Levi’s just came out with a pair called the Wedgie, which are getting rave reviews, and the butt on these also looks great. If you want to go vintage, Jessica recommends Re/Done.

Levis 501s

Thoughts? Which jeans are you wearing these days?

P.S. Creating a uniform, and 9 spring trends.

(Top photo from Kendall Sargeant on Instagram; bottom photo of Jessica de Ruiter in vintage Levi’s by Katrina Dickson via Jean Stories.)

  1. LindyO says...

    I read this article and immediately ordered two paris of 501’s on-line.
    They fit like a glove, great weight, color, and style. I don’t know why I wasted my time with other brands. These are classic for every body type.
    Thank you, Lexi, for bringing me back home.

  2. Luna GC says...

    For me it’s about the fit & colour and as CAZ mentioned, pockets. After a recent weight loss I tried on 2 styles that never looked right on me.
    .. Straight & Skinny Jeans. I did me a happy dance in the fitting room because finally I’m not stuck with Bootcut, year in & out. My best colours are deep Indigo, mid-wash blue & semi-faded.

  3. Michele says...

    Sometime in the last year, I bought a pair of Levi’s with a lot of stretch at Kohl’s. Prior to that, I’ve never paid more than $50 for a pair of jeans. The Levi’s were a little over $50. It took forever to find the right size in dark wash. I didn’t notice in the store, but when I got them home, I noticed they had this weird puckering around the hips. I wore them for awhile but that puckering bugged me. So I donated them. They turned me off of jeans with stretch, possibly forever.
    I ordered a pair of 100% cotton dark wash jeans from LL Bean (Original All-Cotton Double L Jeans). They are the loosest fit without the elastic at the waist (Relaxed). They are a little loose around the butt and upper thighs – decidedly not sexy. The next time I am going to order the straight leg, which is slightly fitted through the hip and thigh with a straight leg. It is hard to find 100% cotton jeans under $50 any more.

  4. Mina says...

    But the best part of Levi’s IMHO is they are supposed to be cheap! I have 3 or 4 pair and I’ve never spent more than $50, but your links are all to pairs $148+! I recommend the cheaper versions you find at the Rack or Macy’s.

  5. Tricia S says...

    Just bought my first pair of Levis 501 and I am so in love! I may never wear another brand of jeans again!

  6. Sam says...

    Sorry, no. I’m sick of thinking to myself, “I can’t wait to get really skinny so I can wear this new trend.” I just want to ignore trends and find what looks and feels good on ME.

    • Luna GC says...

      Beautifully said :)

  7. jasmine says...

    I have found these to look pretty horrendous on the average woman over 30 who has birthed a few kiddos. Great for skinny, tall, small waisted women…….so maybe models??

    • Traci Barr Segal says...

      I’m 52 and love my men’s 501’s. I tried some on in Kohl’s and then purchased a worn pair on eBay for

  8. Haven’t bought a pair of 501’s in FOREVER! Next stop, Levi’s store. :)

  9. Lenna says...

    I have been on the hunt for a high-rise, cropped, mom jean, slim boyfriend magic hybrid for some time. As much as I wanted to love the 501s (that light 90s wash! those iconic pockets!), the pocket placement resulted in some unfortunate-looking ass flatness that I would otherwise like to avoid. This was a surprising accomplishment given the large size of my butt. The Madewell summer jeans are a nice alternative, as they are also 100% cotton and have a similar rise and fit. I would say only rear-enhancing effects resulted with this jean. I had to size down one. Damn it, Madewell; you never disappoint.

    • grace says...

      ha! when i started reading your comment i thought – she needs to try Madewell!

  10. YES! Regular denim looks so much better than the stretchy fabric that make up most jeans these days. Since getting pregnant I have had the hardest time finding any maternity jeans that aren’t completely stretchy and that is so frustrating. I miss my regular old jeans! Ha ha! :)

  11. I just heard about Re/Done after asking a friend where her jeans were from! I’ll have to get a high-waisted, cropped pair for spring. Love them!

    Christina |

  12. melissa says...

    But there’s a reason 100% cotton jeans fell out of favor. The added stretch helps them keep their shape. Honestly, Levis 501s absolutely look awful on most body types! And sorry but that first photo is simply unflattering. I don’t want my butt to look like that weird teardrop shape.

  13. Cvjn says...

    YAY! Is the tyrannical rule of stretch jeans finally over??!! I have been looking for years to find 100% cotton jeans. They hold their shape so much better – no unsightly wiggles and yanks to pull them back up after they stretch out. Plus, I only wear them just above the ankle bone :)

  14. kirstin says...

    For those of us who have ridiculously short torsos, anything above a 7.5 rise looks mom-ish. I wish more designers would carry the ultra low rise in at least one style. I have purchased a ton of supposedly low rise jeans, only to send them back because the rise is already above my belly button. So, while I would love to wear some 501s…..I would look like a head on top of legs.

  15. Jeth Joplin says...

    So very correct. Those well defined butts add so much buzz to the attire and everything gets so sexy.
    Men go mad on correct size meaty butts.

  16. Liz says...

    Fairleigh jeans from asos are my new staple, they have a little bit of stretch but still have a similar vibe to these jeans. They come in lots of colours and sizes and are super cheap!

  17. Oh my word I love 501s and tight, non-stretchy jeans. I’m gonna start rolling mine up a little to show some ankle (!)

  18. These really don’t look great on most people. For me they fall into the category of ugly/concept/fashion. This type of fashion only works on models and fashion editors. I think high-waisted skinny jeans with stretch are a better denim trend:)

  19. Mo says...

    I’ve tried on a ton of these and have learned that you need some butt for them to look good. Flat butts are a no in these. And there is absolutely no forgiveness for any combo other than small waist/skinny thighs! But, I admit I love how they look, it’s a fresh throwback because I’m getting sick of the stretchy tight jeans that make most legs look like sausage casings D:

  20. Johanna says...

    Love the look of a non-stretchy jeans butt, but seriously: it lasts like 2 hours until the jeans start giving too much and look saggy-baggy. Not cute.

  21. Caz says...

    During my days at university, I worked in a clothing store that specialized in jeans. I like the idea of non-stretch jeans, but they are harder to get the right fit.

    The thing is, everyone has different proportions – for example my thighs are slim in proportion to my hips, but others may be the opposite. This means if I find jeans/pants that fit my legs, they are too tight on my hips, or if they fit in the hips, they gape around my legs. Stretch jeans eliminate that problem!

    The number one thing to make your butt look good in jeans? It’s the pockets. POCKETS! The size and placements of the pockets plays a big part in how your butt looks.

    And remember, all jeans stretch. Non-stretch denim will give half a size. Stretch denim up to a size. Don’t buy the jeans that feel perfect in the shop, buy the ones that feel slightly too firm (but not uncomfortable).

    • Yes, yes, yes! Pockets!

      Why do we always forget about their power?

      Vis à Vis

    • Kate says...

      This advice is SO helpful. I’m at a total loss for how to find jeans lately, and just realized my mistake, that I’m buying the “perfect” one at the store, too afraid to buy the tighter version! I may try the 100% cotton versions though if they only stretch to 1/2 a size bigger – so tired of the saggy-baggy-never-to-be-reclaimed jeans I keep ending up with.

    • Luna GC says...

      I cannot buy any pants,, especially Jeans without thinking of the pockets! firstly because of exactly your point & secondly I don’t carry handbags.

  22. Sarah says...

    Yeah, not a fan. Especially if you have actual hips, I think stretchy jeans are the only real way to go to get the right fit–plus they’re just soooo much for comfortable overall.

  23. Sonya says...

    Nope. Hate them. It looks like the dreaded mom butt or as an ex of mine called it “80’s mom butt”. I like a mid-rise or higher rise waist now but not skin tight with no stretch. Not to mention, that sounds incredibly uncomfortable.

  24. I was curious about how the redone jeans would fit petite- I’m 5 ft 2 and I hate the idea of having to tailor jeans that are over $200. They only had photos of the jeans on their website- the don’t show anyone wearing them?

    Any petite ideas?
    I like the high waisted look, especially being petite with shorter legs so I’m a fan :)

  25. Emily says...

    I dunno, man. For me, life’s too short for non-stretchy pants. I only wear leggings now :)

    • natacha says...