Closet Staples Part 1: JEANS

closet staples part 1: jeans

I’m so excited to introduce a new series on my blog, all about CLOSET STAPLES! Each month this year I’ll be talking about a staple you should have in your closet, sharing outfit ideas, and shopping options. Today let’s talk about jeans!


Outfit Details: 
Red Turtleneck Sweater
Mott and Bow Jeans (TTS and so comfortable!)
Leopard Ankle Boots (Leopard is sold out but they’re still available in BLACK, Similar leopard bootie HERE
Old Black Quilted Bag (Similar HERE


Let’s talk about closet staples!

I’m so excited to be starting this blog series about closet staples! This has been in the works for literally years and years and years, as I’ve worked on my closet and figured out which pieces I really need, really love, and really wear.

Here’s what you’ll see in this series every month during 2019.

Each month during 2018 I’ll be sharing a different closet staple, with back to back posts covering:

  • an introduction of the closet staple of the month
  • various styles of this closet staple and which ones work best for YOU
  • my favorite brands and/or good shopping options for that closet staple
  • Outfit ideas for the closet staple

So today we’ll cover styles and shopping options, and then come back tomorrow to see outfit and styling ideas!


Remember, this is a foundational wardrobe list.

Before we get started, I want to mention that this is not the end-all-be-all list. This is a foundational wardrobe. I have plenty of other things in my closet besides these 12 items.

This list is for those of you who look in your closet and don’t know what is going on in there; nothing makes sense and it’s hard to put together outfits, but you have no idea where to start.

This is your starting point.

Are you ready?!


Oh wait…first, a couple of disclaimers.

Disclaimer: This list of closet essentials will not work for everyone. There is really no one-list-fits-all list of essentials. I understand that. If you work at a job that requires daily pant suits, this closet essentials list is probably not for you. If you’re the queen of England, this closet essentials list is probably not for you. This is my tried and true list of closet staples that work for me — a work from home mom with young kids, who sometimes gets dressed up for date night, and wears a dress to church every Sunday. And I think that’s pretty similar to most of you too. But if you are the queen of England, thanks for reading my blog 🙂

closet essentials for the everyday woman

Disclaimer #2: you’ll see on my list above that I don’t have any other pants listed. Jeans only. This is because I don’t really wear any other pants besides jeans. That’s a personal preference, and you are welcome to add other pants to your closet as your lifestyle sees fit. I’ll be including a few “non-jean pant” options in tomorrow’s blog post!


Let’s talk about a few common styles of jeans.

Here’s the thing. There are so many body types out there, and so many styles of jeans. Try some different styles and see what works for YOUR body type!

  • SKINNY. Obviously my favorite style. Almost every pair of jeans I own has a skinny leg. There are lots of new straight leg and wide leg cropped jeans coming on the scene, but my opinion is that skinny leg jeans are here to stay for a long time. They look flattering on basically everyone, as long as you pick a good rise for your body type and the length of the jean is right for your height. Tip: you basically can’t go wrong with a mid-rise ankle-length skinny jean, LIKE THESE ONES.
  • STRAIGHT LEG. We’re seeing more of this style as the mom jeans trend continues, and I think they’re the very best when they’re a cropped or ankle length, LIKE THESE ONES. Steer clear of straight leg jeans that go all the way down to your shoes or are long enough to bunch up around your shoes.
  • FLARED. I loved flares back in the day, but I haven’t gotten into them as much as they’ve re-emerged a few times in the last 10 years. However, they’re amazing for petite girls! If you’re looking for height, put on a pair of heels or heeled boots and bootcut or flared jeans that hit just an inch below the ground and your legs will look an extra 10 inches long! I’m also seeing cropped flared jeans (LIKE THESE ONES) and personally I think they’re unflattering on anyone with a single curve.
  • MOM JEANS. I have to admit I’ve come around to the mom jeans. Also I think they style options are better now than when the trend started. These are the light rinse, super high waisted, straight legged jeans that remind you of your mom in every home video from your childhood. Levi’s does them better than anyone, in my opinion, so if you’re on the mom jean train, I recommend theirs — LIKE THIS PAIR!
  • BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND. These are the oversized jeans that have that lived-in, stole them from your boyfriend look. I love them as long as they’re not too oversized. Many stores have a “slim boyfriend” option (LIKE THESE ONES).  And I always recommend wearing them with a feminine top or heels to offset the masculinity.
  • WIDE LEG CROP. These are typically high waisted, fitted at the waist and hips, and the flare out to a wide leg. LIKE THESE ONES.  They should hit right around or above your ankle bone. I’m seeing these everywhere in the last year or so and I think they look so cool with a shirt tucked in and paired with sandals in the summer or tall ankle boots in the winter. I personally stay away from them because my hips are the widest part of my body, and the way the pants hug my hips and then flare out is unflattering for my body type.


How about different colors of jeans?

No, not talking about colored jeans. The red jeans craze from 2010 can stay there, as far as I’m concerned.

  • BLACK JEANS. I live in black jeans in the winter. THESE ones from AEO are my very favorite.
  • GRAY JEANS. I’ve owned many pairs of gray jeans over the years, and I like a light gray pair in the spring and summer, and a dark gray pair in the winter. I’ve been wearing THESE Sanctuary ones a bunch this winter.
  • WHITE JEANS. I love a pair of white jeans for the summer! So crisp and clean, and perfect with light blues, navy, pinks, and, of course, more white. In the winter, white jeans can totally work — I’d recommend pairing them with deeper and richer hues like black, gray, camel, burgundy, forest green, etc. to make them feel season appropriate. I bought THIS Blank NYC PAIR last year and wore them a ton. They’re not see through and have a good stretch.
red j.crew turtleneck sweater and dark wash jeans
mott and bow dark wash jeans

Are “jeggings” still a thing, and should I wear them or steer clear of them?

Jeggings ARE still a thing. However, they’ve come a looong way since the days of “pajama jeans.” Do you remember that infomercial??

Jeggings just means that it’s more of a stretch denim, rather than a true denim, and that makes them super comfortable. They’re a stay at home mom’s best friend cause you can feel comfy but look put together.

I personally recommend the jegging line from American Eagle. They still look and feel like denim (not like stretchy fabric) but they have a good amount of stretch and are super comfortable. I’ve owned several pairs and wear size four.


What is the point of having dark wash, light wash, mid rinse jeans? Do I need all three??

I like owning at least one of each, because they serve different purposes for me.

  • Dark wash jeans are the most slimming, and are very easy to dress up. My Mott and Bow jeans are my current favorite dark wash pair for winter and date nights.
  • Light wash jeans are probably the least slimming (lighter colors tend to make you look wider, where darker colors make you look narrower), but I love a light wash pair of jeans in the summer because they have a very casual feel. I bought a super similar version of THESE H&M JEANS last spring and wore them constantly. You can see me wearing them HERE.
  • Mid rinse jeans are the in between. They’re somewhere in between dark and light wash, and can be dressed up or dressed down. They’re the most versatile wash. But I will mention that during the winter, I find myself wearing them much less — I’m reaching for my dark wash, black, and dark gray jeans the most. My favorite mid rinse jeans are THESE ONES from Madewell.
how to pick the right jeans

What are my favorite brands of jeans?

  • Madewell.  Their 9″ and 10″ rise skinny jeans are my very favorite. Their jeans are amazing quality, and the pairs I’ve owned are true to size and don’t stretch out.
  • Mott and Bow. I’ve owned two and loved them. They’re lightweight, stretchy, flattering, and super comfortable. THIS PAIR is on current repeat.
  • BlankNYC. I fell in love with the brand when I bought THESE JEANS about five years ago. I also bought THIS PAIR during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale last summer. I find that they run a little on the small side, and their denim is sturdy and has a tiny bit of stretch to it.
  • American Eagle. Like I said above, their jegging line is my favorite. I wear a size four and they’re a good sturdy denim with lots of stretch. I’ve lived in these BLACK JEANS for the past few months.
  • Levi’s. If you’re looking for a good pair of mom jeans, Levi’s is your brand. But they also have some other really good styles. I love THIS SKINNY PAIR so much and wear them constantly in the summer.


WHEW! Did you make it through?

Leave a comment if I left something out, or you have an additional question!

And don’t forget to check back tomorrow to see a bunch of styling and outfit ideas!

photos by Priscilla Frey


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  1. Rachael hohmann says:

    ARE DIstressed jeans stilL a thing? I bought a pair just last year and love the look, but need a pair that fit better. Does American Eagle have any in their jeGging line?

    • Merrick says:

      Ah, I meant to cover distressing! Thank you for bringing that up.

      During the warmer months, distressed jeans are totally in. During the colder months, we see much less of it (for obvious warmth reasons). However, in the last year I’ve seen less distressing on jeans.

      Personally, I think a few little distressed areas around the pockets, busted out knees, or a raw hem on jeans add a really cool, casual vibe to your outfit. But the crazy distressing up and down the front of jeans is on its way out. Plus, I think the more distressing (and whiskering, for that matter) the more juvenile the look. So if you’re going for a more chic, mature (not old lady, but just your age) look, keep the distressing in small doses.

      does that help??

  2. LINDsay Thorn says:

    Love this post! Im 5’10 and the fact you linked 2 pair of jeans that come in Tall pptions is awesome! The ones youre wearing in the pictures- are they mid or high rise? I love them!

  3. Bridget says:

    Look into Kancan Brand denim. Sold mosTly in BOUTIQUES but also at the buckle. Very nice jeans for the price with good stretch and thickness.

  4. Leslie says:

    Really looking forward to this. Last year I set out to be more intentional with my shopping so I don’t end up with a bunch of stuff that I don’t really like/doesn’t fit me/isn’t doing me any good. I’m gonna take it up a notch this year and make a list of what I need to complete my closet. my #1 area of greatest need is jeans.

    One thing I PERSONALLY need is quick lessons on how to know something actually fits. that sounds like a no-BRAINIER but I recently came across a youtube video about jean rises & inseams & pocket placement & ankle opening and I went WHOA this is new to me and why didn’t I know this already! I realize you couldn’t possibly put that together for every body type but just something to consider as you do these monthly posts. Some of us need more help than others :o)

  5. Felicia says:

    Loved this! I am so excited For this series! I love clothes and really Dig your style, but to be honest, I have a hard time finding the energy and time To thoughtfully construct a full wardrobe. So excited FOr all The recommendations and styling tips to come In This series!

  6. […] If you missed last month’s post, it was all about JEANS and you can read it HERE! […]

  7. Man Jason Derulo is a killer in the fashion department have you seen the Jason derulo leather jackets.

  8. […] If you’re reading this and haven’t yet read PART 1 about jeans as a closet essential, READ IT RIGHT HERE FIRST. […]

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