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Overview
June 2010 Ratings

Jeans: $20 or $240?

Last reviewed: June 2010
Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Totally Slimming $20 (left) and True Religion Becky Silver Chainball $240 (right)
Signature by Levi Strauss & Co. Totally Slimming $20 (left) and True Religion Becky Silver Chainball $240 (right)

Marketers might deserve a special place in hell for turning blue jeans into a luxury item. But is there any real difference between a $20 pair and a $240 pair? Our textiles expert evaluated seven women's cotton/spandex boot-cut jeans in that price range, looking for sewing and fabric flaws, washing one pair of each five times, opening stitching at the waist to examine construction, and checking zippers. She found:

Some of the less expensive jeans have better construction features, such as interfacing under the waistband. The two cheapest jeans have stitching under the waistband to limit stretching.

Midpriced Lucky was the only pair that didn't shrink at all. (However, it was so "distressed" that you could lose change from a holey back pocket.)

The biggest shrinkers would have lost about an inch in width on a 40-inch hip and almost an inch in length on a 30-inch inseam.

With the $240 True Religion jeans, you get silver bling (on back pockets and, for some reason, hiding inside a front pocket), a nice print fabric for the pocket bags (where it can't be seen), big white stitches as an accent, and a zipper that won't stay up unless it's locked down.

Bottom line

You pay a lot for fashion and hidden details. Buy what pleases you.