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The word “denim” summons images of pretty standard styles. The comfy boyfriend jeans you’ve been wearing since college. The go-to denim jacket you’ve thrown over anything and everything. The ripped black jeans you slip into on weekend nights. We all have our favorites—the tried-and-true basics we rely on time and time again. But these pieces are really just the tip of the jean iceberg. Anything-but-average denim clothes are abundant—so abundant, in fact, that you could probably build an entire, funky AF wardrobe out of them.
Now, I know as well as the next person that being aware of cool denim clothes is one thing—actually shopping and wearing them is another. So I challenged myself to ditch my standard denim rotation and snag some of summer’s most unique denim pieces, instead. What’s nice? These statement-makers practically do the styling work for you; you can throw them on with a top you already own, and you’ll have an eye-catching look in a snap. Seriously, after scoring two or three not-so-basic denim pieces, it looked like I’d revamped my entire wardrobe. (Who knew?!)
I’ll be honest: I love to be extra, and I’ve historically avoided denim because it’s not extra enough. (Save one pair of go-to skinny jeans, for obvious reasons.) But I’ve come to discover there are tons of anything-but-basic denim options—embroidery, patchwork, colors, prints—and I emerged from this experiment with a newfound appreciation for the textile. Quirky, colorful options abound—as long as you know where to look.
If, by chance, I were planning to wear denim on a daily basis, this is probably how I’d style it. I’m all for a cool band tee and some comfy shoes, but sometimes, the look can skew a bit boring if you ask me. These jeans (which are close to my go-to skinnies in silhouette) offered a dose of funky color to an otherwise-classic look, leaving me feeling all kinds of cool. (Plus, fun fact: This was my first time shopping Levi’s that weren’t vintage, and I was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable they were!)
This look was more up my alley. Because, well, color.
These jeans were different from my go-to skinnies in a few ways. First, the shape—they were a cropped flare-leg fit (which I’d never tried before, and absolutely loooooved). Then, the dusty rose color (obviously). Finally, the texture—the jeans were super soft and velvety, which offered a nice contrast to some of the more rigid styles that pervade the genre. They were also super stretchy, which was definitely a win.
Basically, these didn’t really feel like jeans, which is, I think, why I loved them so much. If you couldn’t tell, pink’s my favorite color, so I decided to run with the all-pink-everything theme and pair the pants with a coordinating top.
If I had to describe my style, I’d definitely call it contemporary-retro. I’m obsessed with all things ’60s and ’70s, so I was super into the idea of flare-leg jeans.
As I slid them on, I was surprised with just how flattering the fit was—especially when worn with heels. My legs looked incredibly long (thanks to the high waist, too!) so I was LIVING in this pair. The wash was lighter and a little bluer than I was used to, but I started to low-key love the palette after wearing them around for a bit.
This pair was by far the most in-your-face, so naturally, I was hella excited to wear them around the city. To keep things somewhat simple, I decided to pair these beauts with a simple tie-waist white blazer and my favorite white heels; I wanted to leave the jeans feeling like the statement piece of the whole look.
As I walked around the streets of Boston, I was given the most compliments in this pair. I loved how simple this outfit was to toss on—it really looked like I tried a whole lot harder than I really did.
I’m essentially the queen of color, so when I saw these jeans at the Goodwill, I didn’t even think twice about trying them on. It was truly a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants moment, because these jeans fit like they were made for me. (Isn’t that the best feeling when you’re thrifting?!)
When I was putting together an outfit with this fun pair, I wanted to keep the spotlight on the jeans, so I stuck with a simple black top. To keep the look feeling summery, I tossed on a fun straw hat and pair of vintage chunky sandals—and basically called it a day.
Every time I’ve worn these jeans to date, someone has stopped me to ask me where I got them. Pro tip: Look through every single rack at the thrift stores—these weren’t even my size!