Get a leg up on finding this wardrobe workhorse for less.

By Kelli B. Grant
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Ian Dingman

It's no secret that designer denim can cost a pretty penny. But even if you're willing to splurge on the good stuff, there are a handful of insider tips and tricks that can help you find the best deals—and get the most bang for your buck. Read on for our tips on how to sniff out a bargain, what materials to look for, and even which washes will last you the longest.


Look for blended fabrics. Pairs last longer if they contain at least 2 percent spandex. “That material doesn’t just hug your curves—it also helps maintain the shape of the jeans over time,” says Kathryn Finney, author of How to Be a Budget Fashionista).

Choose a dark wash. “Denim companies launder items repeatedly to lighten the color,” says Rachelle Moley, trend manager for Lee Jeans. Deeper shades are handled less, so they last twice as long.

If you have a go-to style or brand, buy online. It’s often cheaper. Subscribe to the e-mail lists of denim makers to receive insider deals. For example, offers coupon codes good for 20 to 30 percent off an order, plus free shipping on orders of $100 or more, and Gap has offered sales of up to 30 percent off. Or order from sites that offer free shipping, like (on orders over $25) and (yes, it sells more than shoes).

Stock up now. Retailers know this staple tops consumers’ fall shopping lists, so they offer the best prices in August and September, says Randy Allen, associate dean of marketing and corporate relations at Cornell University.