With the heavy influence of nostalgia in fashion right now, non-stretch denim is the look du jour, often with a high-rise waist and in a straight or slim-fit silhouette—you might also know them as “mom” jeans. But that moniker doesn’t really do this denim justice say those who are fans of the new styles on the market right now.

“Non-stretch denim is one of our favorite fabrics to play with because of the cool, vintage attitude it gives to jeans,” says Jill Guenza, vice president of global women’s design at Levi’s.

If you’re accustomed to super-stretchy jeans, rigid denim might feel like an unsavory style. But stiffer fabrics can actually be more flattering and get better over time, rather than breaking down and needing to be replaced after a season or two. (Let’s call it a win for conscientious consumption.) “The denim has just the right amount of body-molding give, yet holds you in and up in all the right places,” says Guenza. “Because non-stretch denim generally has more structure than high-stretch denim, it gives slim and straight-leg fits amazing attitude.”

Warming to the idea of adding a pair to your wardrobe? Here’s a pro-tip for you: “With non-stretch denim, you can expect the jeans will expand slightly as they shape to your body, so be sure to buy them on the snug side,” Guenza advises.

non stretch denim
Photo: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

Alaina Miller, women’s design director for Citizens of Humanity, agrees that a “perfect” or “snug” fit will result in the ideal pair of non-stretch jeans. “I think the most flattering fits are snug on the hips and thighs…A half hour or so of slight discomfort most often results in a perfect fit once the jeans start to give and mold to your body,” she explains. Leggings, these are not, but every convert I spoke to swears, like a good pair of sneakers or boots, once you get past the break-in period, they’re worth the effort.

Still, if you can’t get comfortable with a super-snug jean, don’t stress. There are options. “It really depends on what the wearer feels their best in,” Miller says. “Loose-[fitted] jeans can also be very cool and flattering, depending on your figure.”

While high-rise, straight-leg or skinny jeans are a versatile bet, wide legs are another option worth exploring, like Levi’s High Water Wide Leg. “They’re the perfect blend of vintage attitude and modern edge and they go with all of our favorite shoes this fall from chunky dad sneakers to western ankle boots,” Guenza says. In place of overt distressing, Miller says vintage washes with subtle distressing or faded details feel very new this season, as well as lengths that hit at the ankle or below.

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