The Different Types Of Stretch In Denim

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The Different Types Of Jeans And Their Stretch

There’s one thing we can all associate jeans with and that’s the fact that they have stretched out and become too baggy over time. This has happened to probably every single one of us out there who loves denim, so how do we get around that issue? You might buy the perfect fitting pair in the store, only to wear them a couple of times and realise they have stretched out a size and now don’t fit very well. There’s tips like buying them extremely, painfully tight, and wearing them so they stretch out to be the perfect fit (this was common for my era) but it’s a pain in the butt (quite literally) and it is really frustrating to do.

As the times have changed though, you are in luck because so many brands have brought out denim with different stretch and fabrications, meaning that baggy, saggy jeans are a thing of the past and your jeans wont stretch out. How? It’s all in the denim! If you want the perfect fitting jeans, find out what the different denim fabrications mean and how/if they will stretch out below.

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100% Cotton Denim

Unfortunately with 100% cotton denim, it’s a fabric that will ALWAYS stretch out no matter what you do. Since it has no stretch in the fabrication, this means that the cotton threads will expand themselves and never go back to the smaller size they were before. Not permanently anyway. Sure you can wash and dry them on hot, which will temporarily shrink them, but they will stretch right back out again. The best thing you can do for 100% cotton jeans is to buy them really small, make them damp, and wear them. The water on the denim will stretch it quite quickly, so they wont stay tight for ages, but this can be very painful, so I often find that 100% cotton denim is better when worn slouchy, plus it’s comfier too. Or, why not go vintage and find a pair of vintage Levi’s or RE/DONE Levi’s which have already been broken in and stretched by the previous wearer? Saves you the job!

– Buy rigid jeans online at Urban Renewal, RE/DONE Levi’s and Nudie Jeans Co.

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98/2 Stretch Blends

Jeans with 98% cotton and 2% elastane/lycra combination do stretch out, but not as badly as rigid denim. I find out of stretch jeans, these are the ones that will bag out the most because they don’t have much recovery in them. This is the standard makeup of stretch denim jeans and once you wear them a few times, they will get looser and stretch out. So again, you can combat this by buying them really tight and waiting for them to stretch to fit perfectly, but don’t wash or dry them on hot because it will damage the elastic in the denim, meaning they will be even more baggier than before. The more you attempt to shrink these jeans, the worse they will become over time. So definitely buy them as tight as you can handle to begin with.

– Buy Jeans like this online at ASOS, Topshop, American Eagle and GAP.

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Cotton/Poly Blends

There’s a denim blend that I find doesn’t stretch out very much and doesn’t have much give at all and that’s the cotton/poly blend. I don’t mean a super stretch pair of jeans which polyester in which makes them scratchy and itchy on your skin, I actually mean a cotton/poly blend only. I haven’t seen any of these in a while, but they used to be really popular back in the days of Rock & Republic. This denim blend didn’t stretch out much at all. They are stiffer and they are not the most comfiest of jeans, tending to run small because of the non stretch factor, but they don’t stretch out really badly and they hold their shape and size with a lot of wear. The only downside with this blend though is it can cause a lot of gapping at the back of the waist due to the fabrication. But if you want a more rigid pair of jeans which don’t stretch too much, try looking for a cotton/poly blend. It was usually 60% cotton and 40% polyester.

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4 Way Stretch Denim

DL1961 and Yoga Jeans were one of the first to release a type of 4 way stretch denim, meaning the jeans won’t sag or lose their shape as they stretch out in 4 different directions, then recover very well. I own quite a few pairs of the DL1961 Jeans with the DLpro fabrication and they are wonderful – the denim is super soft and stretchy, just like a legging, but the material is thicker, so they are flattering like jeans. The older versions are a poly/cotton blend, but the newer ones have elastane and lycra. They really don’t get baggy!

Buy DL1961 online here and Yoga Jeans online here.

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Super Stretch/Jegging Jeans

When it comes to the classic Jegging or Super Stretch Jean that is extremely popular and everywhere today, you do need to be careful. They may be really comfortable and as stretchy as leggings, but if you don’t get them right, they will stretch and get saggy, just like the classic 98/2 blend. I find the cheaper brands which make these jeans tend to become quite baggy after time, but if you choose something like the 7 For All Mankind Leggings, the normal PAIGE Verdugo jeans, the Rag & Bone Legging, the J Brand 620, the new GRLFND skinny jeans or the AG Legging Jeans, these are very stretchy and comfortable, with minimal stretching out qualities. This does depend on how much you wear them though. I find the Rag & Bone and GRLFRND do stretch out quite a bit out of that list.

– Buy these jeans online at REVOLVE and Shopbop.

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Super Stretch/Retain Its Shape Denim

Now this is somewhat of a miracle isn’t it? But it exists. It’s a blend of amazing stretch which snaps back into shape without damage, a soft cotton, and a poly mix to keep it held in place. So far, the best super stretchy denim that I have come across which actually retains its shape and size is the PAIGE TRANSCEND Denim, The James Jeans Twiggy Dancer, and the new DL1961 Instasculpt Denim. These are like super stretchy leggings which you can pull out almost 2 sizes, but they mould to your body and cling like leggings do. Even after multiple wears, they don’t stretch out and lose their shape at all, they remain tight and perfect. I’ve got experience with both the TRANSCEND Denim and the Twiggy Dancer, so I can say this is true! So if you are looking for a very comfortable jean to wear that wont stretch out, these are it.

Buy PAIGE TRANSCEND online here, the James Jeans Twiggy Dancer online here and DL1961 Instasculpt here.

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Jogg Jeans

Finally, I’ve included the Jogg Jeans from Diesel. You might not have heard about these, but since it’s a newer fabrication, I have to include it. These are a hybrid denim which mixes denim and sweat pants together, creating a soft, comfortable sweat pant jean. Now, depending on which wash and cut you buy and whether or not you buy an older, original pair of Jogg Jeans or a newer pair, they will stretch. Adam has had countless pairs of Jogg Jeans because he loves the comfort, but the older pairs have become baggy and lost their shape. The newer styles tend to retain that a little bit better. They are great jeans though!

Buy Diesel Jogg Jeans online by clicking here.

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General Advice On Stretchy Jeans

My best advice to you if you if you want a classic jean with a more rigid or thicker denim, but you hate your jeans sagging in the butt and legs, is to buy them really tight and stretch them out, like I mentioned above. You can wet stretch them by dampening the tight areas and wearing them until they fit perfectly. Sometimes this is the only option if you have fallen in love with a specific pair you know will be loose after wear, just take a size down if you know it will stretch out and wet stretch them. I know it’s hassle, but if you are a denim lover and you can’t resist the jeans, it’s the only way!

Otherwise, go for one of the other denim blends that I mentioned above. If you love a tight fit that is super skinny, then a TRANSCEND or Twiggy Dancer would be ideal for you because of how comfy they are and how much stretch they contain. They are definitely worth the investment and are a pleasure, not a chore, to wear. But please do take all the general advice from this post if you can, to help you make up your mind. Do leave me any questions below in the comments section too!

Buy all these jeans online at Shopbop, REVOLVE, Diesel and Levi’s.

27 Comments

  1. Sara
    July 8, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    Hi Lorna, I need a little guidance and hope you can help me. I purchased the J Brand mid rise capris because of the short inseam (26″ and I am 5’3″). However, I’m not sure if I should keep them for a few reasons.
    I didn’t read the description well enough and realized they are 65% cotton 33% lyocell, and 2% elastane. Does that make them stretch out a ton? The 27 fit fine, but I think I might need to size down. I prefer a stretchier denim, but this seems like it was stretch too much and not retain shape.
    Second, the 26″ inseam is full length for me and not tight at the ankle like I thought they might be. I would just love to find a jean that is tighter in the ankle and it seems impossible with my frame.
    Last, the rise was nice, but I think I would prefer something a little higher (I’m short, but with a long torso). Do you have any suggestions for me?

    • July 8, 2016 / 3:15 pm

      Hi Sara!

      It sounds like you don’t like them as much as you should and sometimes that’s all we need to send them back. Your new jeans should be a pair you love and are incredibly excited to wear. What wash did you buy? Do you have the link? I can maybe try and find you something similar 🙂 It is trickier to find the jeans with a tight ankle when they are cropped, due to them being cropped and meant to fit around the calf, which is bigger than the ankle, so they might often be a little looser in that region, unfortunately 🙁

      • Sara
        July 13, 2016 / 4:07 pm

        Lorna, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. I’m sending them back ASAP lol! I looked at them so many times and thought they were finally going to be “the ones” and I felt guilty about returning them.
        http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/product/j-brand-mid-rise-cropped-jeans-in-oblivion?ID=1412531&CategoryID=2910#fn=ppp%3D180%26spp%3D2%26sp%3D1%26rid%3D15|BOOST%20SAVED%20SET|BOOST%20ATTRIBUTE%26spc%3D110%26cm_kws%3Dj%20brand%20jeans%26cm_kws_ac%3Dj+brand%26pn%3D1
        Those are the ones I bought. My favorite jeans right now are AG skinny legging ankle jeans. It has a 28″ inseam, but they are tight enough at the ankle and I just roll them up a bit. The only downside is they are pretty low on my frame (long torso and short legs) and I need a little more coverage!

  2. Nikki
    July 21, 2016 / 6:10 pm

    Thanks for this info!

    I just bought a pair of 7 For All Mankind Ginger Flares and am debating whether or not I bought the right size. I am normally a 26 or 27 depending on the brand/fit. This pair is made of a broken twill and the 7 site specifically advises to order one size down due to the high stretch factor (they are 98% cotton 2% spandex). I went to Nordstrom and tried on the size 25 and 24 and ended up going with the 24. The 24’s were tight but not ridiculous. I have only worn them for a few hours but they haven’t seemed to stretch much and I’m wondering if I should have gone with the 25’s…Any specific advice on the 98 cotton/2 spandex blend? Same as with lycra?

  3. Mary
    September 16, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    This is such a helpful article. I recently purchased a pair of Paige Verdugo and I LOVED them for the first two weeks – I couldn’t believe how much they did not stretch out after wears. Then I washed them (following instructions, and did not dry) and now they get baggy after one wear. But all the reviews (like yours!) say that Paige Verdugo should not get baggy. Did I just purchase a size too big? At this point I am tempted to throw them in the dryer to see if that will help them keep their shape better, even though everyone says not to dry. I’m looking for another pair of denim now, but I’m afraid to drop $160 on designer denim if the brands that everyone says don’t get baggy did for me. Do you have any suggestions on what I might have done wrong or how I can make sure to find a pair that won’t change after washing?

    • September 17, 2016 / 2:25 am

      Hi Mary! Oh no! That shouldn’t happen! Which wash/colour did you buy? Was it the Transcend fabric at all or just the simple cotton/elastane blend? Definitely don’t put them in the dryer. When you heat up the denim, the elasticity gets damaged even more, so you might end up with a temporary shrinkage on the jeans, but they will become even more baggy than they were to start with. Did you wash them on hot? And when you bought them, were they really tight or they had a comfortable fit? Sorry for all the questions, it will help in making sure you get the right jeans next time! Lorna.

      • Mary
        September 17, 2016 / 10:18 pm

        They were the Verdugo Transcend Crop – black wash. I washed with cold water and air dried, just like the instructions! They were a comfortable fit when I purchased them. I am wondering if I need to buy a snugger fit next time? Thanks for your quick responses.

        • September 18, 2016 / 1:06 am

          That is very strange actually. I would get in touch with the PAIGE customer service and explain to them that this has happened as the TRANSCEND fabric isn’t meant to do that. Perhaps they might exchange them for you? They are a great team. With jeans though, it’s always best to buy them really tight to begin with so they mould to your body shape. If they’re comfortable before, then they will most likely always become baggy. If you do get to exchange with PAIGE, I would size down if you can!

          • Mary
            September 19, 2016 / 6:54 pm

            Thanks for your help. I actually contacted Nordstrom first, since I had purchased through them. They are exchanging for another size – they said the same things you did about how the fabric should have better hold. Hope sizing down works! Thanks again.

            • September 19, 2016 / 10:45 pm

              Oh that’s great! I’m glad you were able to exchange them! You will have to let me know how you get on with them! And you’re very welcome for the advice. Lorna.

  4. Karen Potgieter
    October 20, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    Good day! I have a pair of DIESEL Lowette jeans. They are stretch. I want to buy a Skinzee super-low and these are Total Recovery Stretch. My question is what size to buy. I wear a size 31 in the stretch. Should I go for a 30 in the Skinzee then?

    • October 20, 2016 / 4:11 pm

      Hi Karen, are your Lowette jeans old?

  5. dorothy
    October 25, 2016 / 10:08 pm

    what a great article, I wish i read about not trying the hot water on the 2% Lycra mix. But now i know i have to size down. It has driven me crazy that i purchase jeans they fit perfect for the first 5 minutes but by the end of the day they are falling off and bagging at the legs.
    Thank you.

    • October 25, 2016 / 11:58 pm

      You’re welcome. The general rule is buy jeans that are really tight and uncomfortable to begin with because they stretch out, so you have to break them in to have the perfect fit after stretch. I hope that helps!

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  7. CMP19
    October 30, 2016 / 6:13 pm

    Hi! Thank you for such a helpful article! I recently purchased 2 different styles of Mother jeans (the Cruiser flare & the Looker skinny) in a size 26. The 26s fit snug but comfortable with first trying them on. They are both a cotton/elastane combo stretch, so I am concerned with whether or not they will bag out. I also tryed on the same pairs in a 25, which is much snugger, but not uncomfortable – I can still button/zip them, but they do create a bit of a “muffin top” look, unfortunately. My question is this: should I stick with the 26s, or go with the snugger 25s, hoping they will stretch out? These are my first pairs of Mother jeans, so I am not as familiar with their jeans. Thanks for the advice!

    • November 1, 2016 / 6:09 pm

      Hi! Usually the general rule is unless the jeans are made from a 4 way stretch or recovery denim like DL1961 or PAIGE TRANSCEND fabric, then they will stretch out. If you plan on wearing them quite a lot then I would take the size which are smaller if they aren’t too painful or uncomfortable. If they are too tight in the waist for you, you can always put water on it and wear them with a wet waist, that stretches the denim out more and quite quickly. I hope that helps!

  8. Rhandzu
    December 13, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    Hi Lorna,

    I have a new pair of Sissy Boy Skinny Leg (Jon Jon) jeans that fit a tad bit too tight around the waist and the thighs. The denim consists of 63% Cotton, 35% Polyester and 2% Spandex. Will the jeans stretch out over time or should I return them (which I hope I will not have to since I have fallen in love with them)? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thank you 🙂

    • December 14, 2016 / 12:32 am

      Hi 🙂 I think they will stretch out a bit with wear, but if they don’t, you could always try dampening them in those areas as the water will stretch the jeans quicker. Don’t do it until you have worn them about 5 times though as they will probably stretch on their own and you don’t want to make them too big. Good luck!

  9. Cayla
    December 17, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    Hi Lorna,
    I’ve been trying to find a cheaper pair of skinny jeans that won’t sag and stretch. I was looking into a pair from Forever 21 online but I found out they were 96% polyester. Should I be worried and find a new pair?

    Thank you:)

    • December 19, 2016 / 8:33 pm

      Hi, I would avoid them. 96% polyester sounds very itchy, not breathable, and like they would lose shape quite a lot. What sort of price range were you looking for? The only true jeans I know that don’t stretch out at all and they hold their shape is the PAIGE Transcend Jeans, but they are fairly pricey 🙂

  10. Sunny
    December 22, 2016 / 10:20 am

    Hi ur blog is very helpful can u plz tell me the characteristic of this Denim blend 75% Cotton, 25% Lyocell. Jeans made of this material bend how does it last in long run?

    • December 27, 2016 / 1:40 pm

      To me it sounds like it might stretch out, but could you tell me what the brand of the jeans are and how much they were?

  11. Ania
    December 28, 2016 / 4:07 pm

    Hi Lorna
    I am trying to decide between size 28 and size 27 Jag “Rosie” High rise skinny crop jeans. They’re made out of 92.5% cotton, 5% polyester and 2.5% elastane. I’m usually a size 10-12 in pants so these sizes are a bit new to me. Plus not sure how they’ll stretch in the long run as I have other Jag jeans and they are ALL DIFFERENT sizes. They’re all made in different countries and with different blends so that could possibly explain the inconsistency in sizing.
    The size 28 is snug but comfortable around the calf and thigh area but even after 5mins wearing them around the house the waist seems too loose and I’m already pulling them up. The size 27 fits perfectly around the waist and thigh area but is VERY tight around the calf. Do you think they’ll stretch much? If so, where? I really don’t need another pair of jeans that are falling off me yet don’t want to have a pair that’s lying around unworn because they’re uncomfortable 🙂
    Thanks 🙂

    • December 30, 2016 / 1:08 pm

      Hi Ania, I have actually never heard of Jag jeans before, so I honestly can’t comment on the sizing of them as I don’t know anything about them. It depends on the quality of the materials used as well. Do you perhaps have a link or some more information?

        • January 1, 2017 / 3:29 am

          I would be afraid to say as I really don’t know anything about the brand and the quality of the cotton or fabrics they’re using. It sounds like it’s pretty inconsistent with the sizing and that’s probably down to the fabric blends all being different, so without me having tried this brand or this particular pair, I’m not able to say. So sorry! You could post in our forum and see if anyone else can help though x.

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