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Thursday, April 18, 2024

How Many Pairs of Jeans Does a Gal Need?

Talking about dyeing my black jeans last week got me to thinking about how many pairs of jeans is a reasonable amount to own. I have 5 pairs of jeans. That number may sound high. However, I keep my jeans until they can no longer be repaired. 

I even hang on to jeans that I've outgrown, because I know my body. I may be too big for a pair one year, then 5 years later that same pair is the right fit, until they aren't. My body size goes up and down, and I'm comfortable with that.  So my jeans are in a couple of sizes. I have jeans that I bought when I was slightly larger and jeans that I bought when I was slightly smaller.

And (a big and) I don't buy really trendy styles in jeans. As you can see, these jeans go back more than a dozen years. I never did go in for the skinny jeans. I didn't think they would look good on me. I pretty much avoided low-rise jeans, as well, when they were "in" 20 years ago. I stick with cuts and styles that are flattering to me. That means that jeans that I bought 15 years ago are not so extreme that their fashionableness or unfashionableness is obvious. And at my age, no one is expecting me to look trendy, one of the gifts of aging.

I have both work and good jeans. When I'm at home working in the house or yard, I put on the work jeans. When I go anywhere, I put on one of the good jeans.

The two pairs on the left are my work jeans. The far left pair used to be my son's when he was in high school. The second ones over used to be my "good" jeans in 2012. They're now my go-to jeans for gardening. By always wearing these jeans when doing physical work, I keep my good jeans looking nice for longer. I patch and mend these jeans as needed. 

For slit type of holes, I use the zig zag on my sewing machine to go over the hole multiple times, adding a scrap of fabric on the underside. 

For small wear spots, like around button holes, I sew a scrap of denim over the spot. 

an inside patch in a hole in the crotch of my work jeans

For larger wear spots and holes, I sew a scrap of heavy denim inside the jeans, 

reinforcing the patch on the top side as needed.

The three pairs on the right side of the pile are my now "good" jeans, one dark blue, the other two black. I take good care of these jeans to keep them looking as new as possible for as long as possible. Some of the things I do to keep them looking nice: 1) I hang these jeans on hangers in the closet; 2) I launder them inside out in cold water; 3) I hang them on a rack indoors to dry; 4) I never kneel in these jeans; 5) I never wear these jeans for physical work; 6) you already know this, I over-dye these jeans when they begin to fade.

So that's my number. I seem to need about 5 pairs of jeans, some larger, some smaller, some older, some newer.

How about you? How many pairs of jeans do you own? Do you separate your jeans into work jeans vs nice jeans? Do you tend to hang onto jeans that you outgrow, or do you pass those on to someone else? At what point do you retire a pair of jeans?


  1. Ever since I was a kid, we had school clothes/play clothes, or town/city work clothes and outdoor work/play clothes; and we have always mended the living daylights out of the latter. We're always surprised when we meet people who do not do this. I'm hoping to do some painting at our house this year (finally), and I'll be wearing painting clothes I've saved since we painted at our last house 9 years ago. :) Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      We had school clothes and play clothes, too. I remember having to change out of school or church clothes right away to keep them as nice as possible. I didn't mind, though, as I was something of a tomboy, and all of my school and church clothes were dresses when elementary school age. It's much harder to climb trees after school in a dress. :)

      I keep a pair of very, very old sneakers for painting shoes. I'm not sure I've got my old painting clothes. Good for you for hanging on to yours all of these years and through a move, too!

  2. I have two pairs of jeans for shopping and doing errands, and at least two older pairs for gardening. "Home" clothes are the most worn and at the bottom of the clothes chain, also outdoor garden though these are in slightly better condition than what I wear indoors. At the beginning of the chain are clothes for shopping/errands. "For occasion" clothes aren't comfortable for anywhere else, so I've been deconstructing them for blanket construction and other craft projects.

    I still have bins of brand new Sears, Kmart and Target clothes that were purchased at clearance, except all are too big. I lost at least 40 lbs. I alter as I need to wear it. The good thing is I like the fabric and construction quality of these outdated clothes a lot better than the quality that I see at stores today (except I can still find nice clearance deals at Costco.) Some new clothes are deconstructed for crafting because they are too unwearable, either way out of fashion or not something I want to wear any longer. I will appreciate them better as fabric pieces. I don't care about fashion that much since I'm old, yes the benefits of aging, but I do have to feel OK in my clothes.

    Speaking of clothes in the bin, yesterday our son called to thank me for a never worn Members Only jacket from the 80s. Our grandson wore it to school and got lots of praise and attention. This was a jacket that my cousin bought for $5 (?) during a visit to Korea about 40 years ago. He bought jackets for everyone and this was my dad's. It's amazing that something this old could be in style again. It's a good thing I had the sense not to deconstruct this one.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

    1. Also, because I'm older, I don't feel comfortable in clothes I might have worn in my 50s. So most of the clothes I'm deconstructing are not only outdated fashion wise, but I've outdated it.


    2. Hi Laura,
      I think you've found a good use for your "for occasion" clothes, using in blanket making and crafts. I have a couple of pieces of my mother's wardrobe that I'd likely never wear (from the 1970s and 80s), but that I hang on to simply because they remind me of her. I should think about a way to use some of these items in a project that I can enjoy looking at, or perhaps refashioning, so they don't sit at the back of the closet for the rest of my life.

      I agree on the not wanting to wear styles I might have worn a decade or two ago. There's nothing wrong with becoming more mature versions of ourselves, and that would be reflected in our clothing styles as well as our general manner.

      Oh that's so cool about your grandson and the 80s Member's Only jacket!

  3. I definitely have work (nice) clothes and work (outside) clothes. The outside clothes are full of tar, paint, and just plain grungy. I also have an outside sweatshirt and an outside jacket that is flannel with a nice warm interior. I have work gloves and work tennis shoes all for outside yardwork and other outside things.

    As for jean, I probably have 10 pair. Some are straight, bell, hip huggers, regular waist, skinny, boot, name brand, off brand and different sized to fit my ever changing weight status. I also have clothes I wear to work that are probably more than 15 years old and still wear them even though I'm sure they are out of style. I'm not one to shop for up-to-date fashion so I probably stand out and I don't care. I wear what is comfortable .

    Like Sara, when I was growing up, we had school clothes and play clothes and changed out of school right when we got home.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Your wardrobe probably stands out less than you think. I say that because I know I and others have pieces of clothing that we still wear regularly that are 15 to 20 years old. And many of us just don't care if some of our clothing is from a decade or two ago. If we still like something and it fits and is comfortable, then why replace it with something that is not as well made and may not feel like it's our style.

      The "less well made" thing with clothing these days is a whole other topic. I have a couple of my mother's blazers that are still classic enough to wear today but were made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are still going strong all these decades later.

  4. I can wear nice jeans to work which I do pretty often. However, a lot of kneeling comes with my job, so the knees wear out faster than the other parts. Then they become my errand jeans, and lastly my yard work jeans when they become torn and stained. I would say that I have 7 pair of jeans, overall, in various stages of wear. I don't think there is any perfect number, it's just whatever works for one's lifestyle and budget.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      You're right, there isn't one perfect number that fits everyone's needs and lifestyle. But it's interesting to read about other's experiences.

      Have you ever found a brand of jeans or fabric content (with some spandex or without) that are more durable in the knees, or a style/color of jeans that shows knee wear less? I remember when my kids were small I spent a lot of time on the floor playing with them and wore out the knees on jeans very quickly.

  5. Maybe 6 pairs? I bought 2 pair within the past year because they were a really good deal and I have gained weight and needed a more comfortable size. I love the sturdiness of jeans but I'm finding myself reaching for hiking pants/exercise bottoms more these days for around the house and exercise--they flex better when I'm active and are more breathable (I don't get a lot of hot flashes but I feel like I sweat more easily these days--is this an aging thing??? Sorry if this is TMI.). I agree with L&L--we all have different lifestyles and live in different climates, so what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. I think if you're going for longevity with jeans, you are better off with straight legged styles--they may not be the most cutting-edge style but I suspect none of us is trying to look like we are 16. ;)

    1. Kris, there are some other health things that can make you really hot (and/or cold) besides hot flashes, too. A doc of mine told me that if you take your temperature, and it's up, it's a temperature-regulation problem, not a hot flash. Still makes you have to modify your wardrobe choices, though. Hang in there! Sara

    2. Interesting, thanks!

    3. Hi Kris,
      My experience with sweating more -- both my sister and I thought we were sweating more with exercise than we had previously. Not underarm sweat, but body sweat, like our torsos. This was a new thing to both of us and began right around the big M. It has eased up somewhat now, though.

      Your observations are interesting about wearing exercise bottoms around the house. I had been wearing workout leggings around the house for a few years. This past year I switched back to jeans. The leggings didn't keep me warm enough in winter, and I didn't like the feeling of constriction on my legs for some reason. Also, because mine were 100% synthetic fiber, they weren't breathable in certain areas of my body and set me up for discomfort in those areas. I've become sensitive to fibers that make me feel even slightly too warm or sweaty. Same for sleeping. I have to use all cotton sheets, blankets and quilts now or else I feel too warm.

  6. Currently, I own two pairs of jeans. I have always struggled to find ones that fit me well as I need both "curvy" fit (waist is small in proportion to hips and I hate the gap most jeans leave) and short length. Some "petite" length jeans are still too long with my short legs. I'm also not trendy and hated the skinny jean look (on me). As part of curating my closet and trying to have only items that I really like and are flattering (there are some less nice things put away for gardening or other dirty jobs), I read a lot of reviews online and found some jeans that sounded promising, then purchased a pair on ebay. They are just right for me, and I'm working on my health (lifting heavy and eating high protein), so when I found the exact pair one size down, brand new for under $20 on ebay, I snatched them up and they are waiting for me. I'm almost ready for them, size-wise.

    While one pair of jeans in my current size may not sound sufficient, it is shorts weather here much of the year, and I also own a pair of nice wool grey slacks that can be nice casual or dressed up, grey merino joggers, a pair of nice grey knit pants, and some leggings that can be worn with longer tops or under skirts/dresses in cooler weather.

    Interesting topic!


    1. Fellow curvy girl here. I have found that there are a lot more options with jeans that fit well in the waist and hips than there were when I was younger. For what it's worth, jeans with a slight flare seem to balance out my proportions. :) Yay you for working on your health! Oh, also on the topic of jeans not fitting around the waist--I'm waiting for an order of jean adapter buttons for my daughter (who has inherited my build). It's a pin that goes through the waistband of your jeans with a button that looks like a jean button on the other side, which allows you to cinch in the waist. If you remind me, I'll report back on how it works. I'm getting it from Amazon.

      In completely different news .... Lili, I saw this post today and thought of you. She uses some very frugal (but cute!) ideas for making a pretty table setting, and it seemed right up your alley.

    2. Kris,

      I hope the adaptor works well for you! I've come to the same conclusion about style, and the brand and style I've found that work for me are Democracy's Ab Solution Itty Bitty Boot Cut. Flattering and comfortable, but not TOO flared.


    3. Hi Cat,
      I think weather does play into the equation significantly. For me, we get very little shorts-weather. Even when in the city of Seattle folks are complaining about a heat wave, I'm in a more woodsy neighborhood away from the city, so we're always a lot cooler here. Plus, it has to get up into the upper 80s or low 90s for me to break out a skort or shorts. I do bring those items when traveling to warmer climates, though.

      I'm glad you found a brand and style of jeans that work for your body type. If you ever wear a shoe with even a slight heel, I've read that boot cut or flare is more leg-extending when worn with even a modest heal than straight leg jeans. Straight leg jeans seem to "pile up" on top of the shoe. Whereas with boot cut or flare, the jeans will cover the shoe partially, and the eye see more jeans and thinks longer legs.

      Isn't it nice that we live in a time with choices, and we're of an age that we don't feel we need to look a certain way or buy particular styles or brands of clothing?

      Great work on improving your health and body! You'll be in the other pair of jeans in no time.

    4. Hi Kris,
      I didn't know what you meant by the button adaptor. I had only seen the kind with a loop that fits over the button, with an extra button to enlarge a waistband. I used one of those in the early weeks of my pregnancies so I could continue wearing my regular pants. But I just went on Amazon and saw what I think you're referring to. For anyone else curious, here's a link to see what this is:

      It's no-sew and adds a button where you need it to make the waistline smaller on jeans.
      I hope it works for your daughter.

      Thank you for the link to the vintage-inspired Mother's Day table setting. Very pretty! Now I have to start thinking about whether we will be indoors or outdoors for Mother's Day.

    5. Yes, that's the style of adapter I was thinking about. Still waiting for the ones I ordered to be delivered ..... sigh.

    6. I hope they come soon.

    7. They finally arrived and my daughter is excited!


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