How Many Pairs of Jeans Should I Own?

My question is simple: How many pairs of jeans should I have?  I want to simplify my life, and every time I open my closet door (FN 1) and see that unruly stack of denim staring at me, I ask myself this question.

Jeans are tricky, right? Especially now. It’s never been harder to keep on top of a jeans inventory, what with skinny jeans (including ultra skinny and jeggings, neither of which I own), boot cut, trouser cut, and straight leg.

This weekend, I pulled them all out to see if there were any that it was time to let go of.

Is this the jeans table at your local retailer? No, it's my living room floor. Come and get me, horders.

Is this the jeans table at your local retailer? No, it’s my living room floor. Come and get me, Hoarders.

The total count: 12.

This seems excessive, right?  Who needs 12 pairs of jeans, when I also have approximately more than 5 pairs of colored cords?  It’s not like I can’t wash my jeans now and then.  Because of course I wash them once a month all the time. (What’s better than feeling that monthly bloat and slipping into a freshly laundered pair of jeans? Squats, anyone?)

Now, I have admitted I am a bit of a shopper, which this stack proves, but also? I am very sentimental.  See those jeans in that picture? They appear in the order in which I bought them.  The oldest pair: Seven For All Mankind jeans I bought on May 23, 2003, the weekend I graduated from law school.  I splurged on a these jeans at Filene’s Basement (may she rest in peace).  I can’t possibly get rid of those! They cost $75.00 in 2003.

Then, there are the only 2 pairs of jeans I have ever bought on a non-discounted basis.. It was April 18, 2008.  I accidentally wandered into Bloomingdale’s and those two pairs of jeans–well, our worlds collided in that poorly-lit dressing room.  I had just bought my wedding dress the day before, and in a spurt of pre-wedding jitters, I went out and spent a small fortune on designer denim.  You can clearly see why I have to keep those, right?

From there, it’s a motley assortment of skinny jeans and straight leg jeans and my Joe’s jeans collection from Costco.

It’s a bit much, even if I culled out the sentimental favorites.  I have been a little fixated on jeans in the past 10 years. Before that, I had such a hate-hate relationship with them, I literally owned only 2 pairs: both of them men’s Levi’s I bought at a thrift store.  Those were not my high-fashion days.  They were better, though, than my 2-year only-wear-overalls phase.  I was androgynous and farm-y all at the same time, which was perfect for my life in Washington D.C.

Those twelve pairs are how I made up for lost time– all those years I didn’t think I was skinny enough or “right” enough to wear the most basic garment after the toga.  I am willing to get rid of the ones I haven’t worn within the past 365 days, but I think that amounts to a single pair.

I need a guiding principle.  I need your help.  How do you manage your denim?  Am I one pair of dungarees away from a Hoarders episode or should I just get a bigger closet and step over to Nordstrom Rack to see if I can find one more “perfect” pair?

Not just jeans-- old friends

Not just jeans– old friends


FN: I never really shut the closet door, because JEANS, JEANS, JEANS.



50 thoughts on “How Many Pairs of Jeans Should I Own?

  1. I am the anti-hoarder. I get a high off of purging closets and drawers, and dropping off loads at Goodwill.
    But, even I don’t think that 12 pairs of jeans is too bad, especially if you still wear them. Maybe you should just make a deal with yourself that a dozen is your limit and for every pair of new jeans that comes into your house, one of the old ones has to go.

    • Really? You don’t think 12 sounds excessive? I am mostly a stay-at-home worker, so I wear jeans almost everyday. I was so ashamed to put the number….but if an anti-hoarder is on board, then a dozen it is. Or maybe a baker’s dozen so I can have a one-pair leeway.

      You’ve made my day.

  2. Oh no! I have never read a post of yours and felt immensely worse about myself as a person (usually I laugh and feel comforted having a partner in crime). I am hoping someone else might chime in and make me feel better about my own jean collection (which goes back to high school and has 12 on one shelf — of 3). Until them I am going to sulk — I had no idea I had such a problem (with jeans I mean),

    • Wait, you mean you have more? Seriously. I feel awesome! I was thinking this was proof that I was a hopeless hoarder. I love you for saying you have 370 pairs of jeans. I have never loved you more. I thought people in Manhattan only had 1 of everything.

      I am so glad I asked. At this point, I am going to have to insist that you give us a virtual fashion show with those jeans from high school. ARe they Guess? Do you have old school high-waisted Gap jeans?

      Let’s see ’em.

  3. I had this exact conundrum when I was packing up to move. I had jeans that brought back fond memories of college and the inevitable freshman 15, jeans that reminded me of my anxiety-induced fasting days of law school finals, and assorted other jeans-induced stories. How could I possibly give any of those up? So basically, I didn’t. I still have them, even though I may never wear them again. I say keep them. Some of them you may wear again, some you may not, but I love having lots of pairs just for the memories they bring back. Don’t let them go!

    • I am so glad I asked. I am keeping them all. I got rid of two pairs that were post partum and didn’t bring good memories, since they hit right on my C-section scar. But, the others, I am keeping, My kids can wear them to vintage day at their schools.

  4. I’m not sentimental about clothes, so I’m impressed you can remember the exact date some of these were purchased. My rule – if I can’t remember them when i get them out of the attic for fall (limited closet space), they get tossed. The ONLY pair I keep that I don’t wear is at least a size too small right now, when I was at my very skinniest height of breastfeeding glory. I miss those jeans so much. One day. I’ve never bought expensive jeans. I know some people swear by them, but the ease in which I can gain/lose 10 lbs, I don’t know which size I would/should buy.

    • Well, I hear that. Part of the reason that I have all those pairs is that they span more than 3 sizes. I can imagine going up from where I am now and down. I am pretty square in the middle. So the fluctuating sizes is a part of it. And I am still nursing so I don’t know how that affects things now.

      Being sentimental about clothes was cute until I became a mom so I have to save both kids clothes….it’s getting outta hand!

      • Fluctuating sizes is sufficient reason to keep them all! Oh, and I hear you on saving kids’ clothes. I only have one, still undecided on another and given that I’ve saved just about everything of my son’s, I’m sure the next one will be a girl.

  5. You’re more sentimental about your jeans than I am. Sheesh. You even remember the dates you purchased them. As for me–a pair I wear in the garden, a couple of super comfy pairs for hanging out in, a couple pairs of “dress jeans” for when I go out (these have to be almost new–when they get faded they take the place of the older super comfy pair for hanging out in), hmmm…a pair to wear with ropers, a skinny pair that I can pull boots over…..okay, I get it now. A woman can never have too many jeans. And, of course, when you find a pair that fits real good, you really should buy 3 or 4 pairs.

    • Ya’ll, I am about to get up from my lesson plan and go buy more jeans. I don’t have nearly enough….and I love that you have Ropers. I miss mine. There’s nothing like a roper. Maybe when I am next in Texas, I can get some….with new matching jeans.

  6. I say keep ’em without guilt! Especially if they are spanning a few sizes. While pregnant, I finally got rid of my “skinny” jeans that I had bought in graduate school. Not super special: J Crew, dark wash, boot cut, but actually hemmed to the right length. I hadn’t been able to wear them in years and figured there’d be no way I could get into them after a baby. Now, still breastfeeding, I could totally be rocking them at storytime. I mourn their loss.

    • Oh, and those original hems. THose aren’t cheap. I have some J. Crew in the mix…they can do wonders with my ass. Good point…who knows what is going to happen to this body in the next few years. MIght as well keep ’em. The only down side is that means I have to clean the closet.

  7. I would say to keep every pair that you still feel good in. If that’s all 12, then so be it. As for me and my 30-lb weight gain, I shall continue to wear the same pair week after week and vow to never buy another stitch of denim until there is no muffin top that comes free with purchase.

  8. Yes, keep them! No matter how you’re feeling on a given day, you’ll always have at least one pair you’ll feel good in. Some days, that’s saying a lot. Just box up the ones that don’t fit right now, and it’ll seem like you don’t have so many.

  9. Who doesn’t get “Squats anyone?” Feel good about your 12 (they look so tiny in the pic. Puts some meat on those bones! ;-)) and keep them all if you still like the way they fit or may fit at any given time they’re called upon. I have admitted before how many I have and, in my book, you’re all good! After shoes, my next whorish tendency is jeans. Wish Costco had Joe’s now!

  10. Women should own 1 pair of black shoes, one pair of brown and two pairs of jeans. Done, problem solved.

    Ok, I don’t expect you to listen to that, no one does but I keep trying just cause one of these days someone will. 😉

    BTW, I own four pairs of jeans.

  11. Obviously it varies by person but I say 6 is the magic number: 1 skinny, 1 bootcut, 1 that makes your butt look good, 1 dark wash, 1 light wash and 1 pair that sits in the back of your closet to either remind you of an amazing time you’ve had in your life or as a goal for an amazing time yet to come! ;o)

  12. I think Polkadotpalace is on the right path, but I’d say two of at least one style depending on what type of shoes you normally wear. So if you normally wear high boots, maybe you keep 2 pairs of skinny jeans. Also, I’d xnay all the light wash jeans. No one needs those. But truly, if you’re inventorying your jeans, you need to inventory your shoes. Ultimately, it’s all about the shoes.

  13. I vote to keep all of them! I have way more than 12 and I refuse to get rid of any of them until I lose all this baby weight. It’s not like they’re all one size; that would be excessive. So there. You’re not the worst one out there.

  14. You’ve got plenty of votes here, but I would bet my right arm I own at least 12 pairs, if not more. And this: What’s better than feeling that monthly bloat and slipping into a freshly laundered pair of jeans? Squats, anyone?….. AMEN.

  15. I love getting rid of clothes, but yet, I keep most of my jeans. Even though they all fall in the category of jeans, they all have different fits and styles, so they are appropriate for different occasions. I think 12 is fine!

  16. I probably have this many, but I really only wear the same 4 pairs. The rest sit on the bottom of the pile unless my fab 4 are dirty. I’d say it’s all about whether or not you’re actually wearing them. If one or two rarely see the light of day, toss them. Bet you won’t miss them. But more importantly – they sell Joe’s jeans at Costco??

    • They did for a long time last year, which is how I acquired 3 pairs of my jeans. Now it’s just Lucky Jeans for men, which is totally unfair, but I did see Gucci purses there. I am not in the market for a fancy purse like that, but still. Go Costco.

  17. Two pair you will fit on soon (one size too small).
    One pair suitable for work (dark wash, not trendy).
    Two bootcut, one skinny.
    One that’s a size too big. Because you need to feel good when bloated.

    That’s seven. Ditch any that look bad, feel bad, or are only sentimental.

    Does that account for five? Five gotta go.

    Or not. But you asked.

      • Wait a minute…did my streamlining advice give you permission to buy another pair?

        Good. 😉

        I’m not a big fan of physical baggage. I hate seeing all my previous sizes and selves in the closet. I like to dress who I am today, and give away the rest. If I change, I’ll get something new.

        You’re welcome, though, to keep whatever you like. I’m nostalgia-phobic for reasons we won’t get into. You can embrace your nostalgia if it helps you find joy. Not if it makes you judge yourself.

      • Girl, I have gotten so much love and support here I am turned all around. My therapist agrees with you: be in the moment and clothe today’s body. That appeals to me.

  18. This post made me get up of my be-hind and take note of my denim inventory. The final answer? 22. I have 22 pair or jeans in my closet. I have admitted to having a designer denim..ahem…problem in the past but 22? So, obviously I cannot advise on how to properly manage one’s denim. I need an intervention myself. Oh crap…just remembered that there are 2 pair still in my suitcase waiting to be washed. So that’s 24. Should I be proud or ashamed? Hm…

    • Proud. Did you see these comments? Most of these good people have more than 12, so that is cause for celebration. I bet you are safely in the median. No worries. What’s your favorite pair? I love talking denim.

  19. I have a different problem. I have a handful of pairs of jeans, but then wear the hell out of the one my butt looks best in until it’s time to buy another favorite pair. The others sit patiently waiting for their turn that will never come. Oh, and I had a friend who had trouble getting rid of her clothes due to sentimentality. To overcome this, she took a picture of each and wrote a little something about it before she gave it too good will. Probably too much effort for most, but if the only thing that holds you to these jeans is the memories, you can capture them and then purge…

  20. I had such fun reading all the comments and I’m usually a skimmer but I read every word on the page. You have a great writing style — very engaging. Topic seems to matter little. I just like your work!

  21. I love talking denim too!! It’s a sickness. I absolutely LOVE my A Pocket 7 For All Mankind pair. Also, have a pair of True Religion that I wear, well, religiously. Most recently, I purchased a pair from The Buckle…my first pair with bedazzled pockets. I’ve been anti-pocket sparkles since they first started selling them but I was in the denim buying mood and was near the Buckle so I figured I’d give them a shot. Holy comfort. I LOVE them. Hands down the most comfy/best fit combo that I own. I like to call them my Jersey Shore jeans.

  22. Pingback: Skinny, Ultra Skinny, Need-A-Crowbar-To-Remove Skinny: Why It’s Impossible To Shop For Jeans | Outlaw Mama

  23. I love good jeans especially if they fit really well. I fell so bad, the last time I counted, I had 126 and that was just last week.

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