I hate pants shopping so much. Nothing makes me feel like I have a weirder body: everything’s too long, everything fits wrong in the waist or the hip or the rise, nothing’s comfortable. I avoid doing it. Then, last month, I finally took stock of what jeans I owned, and this was it:
- 1 pair jeggings covered with runs
- 1 pair jeggings covered with pills
- 1 pair jeans a size too small
- 1 pair jeans that give me plumber’s butt
I was still wearing each and every pair of those jeans, and feeling unhappy every time I did. Clearly, I needed new jeans. But I put it off for another month, because I wanted to find a pair of jeans that could replace the function of all of those pants. I wanted them to be more durable and breathable than the jeggings; I wanted them to be stretchier and more comfortable than the too-small jeans; I wanted them to fit better than Plumber’s Butt Jeans™; and I didn’t want to agonize about what pants would fit me. I also wanted to be comfortable with my jeans’ ethics, not just their fabrics.
The combination of those factors led me to Beija Flor, a company well known for their ethical, comfortable, and flattering jeans.
Beija Flor’s jeans, especially the summer weight fabrics, are extra-comfortable, breathable, reasonably durable, well-fitting, good for people, and as sustainable as clothes can be. (A vegan boutique, Lookie Lou, also carries their jeans, which leads me to believe at least some of them are vegan.) Their main downsides:
- before they get to you they’re stored somewhere that smells really strongly of perfume, which has yet to wash out of my brand new jeans;
- Their jeans do not have functioning front pockets. I understand some people prefer the streamlined look of pocketless pants, but I generally prefer function to the minimal amount of bulk pockets add.
- they don’t offer any sizes above 14, which is a little extra-weird for a company that advertises their fabrics “work with your curves, rather than against them”.
If you’re plus-sized and interested in ethical jeans, I’d encourage you to check out NYDJ, which are mostly made in the United States. (To find out if the pair you’re interested in does, check out its ‘Details’ section.) They have plus options up to 28W, though their offerings drastically decrease after 24, and if you’re a 28, I sure hope you like dark wash.
If you need jeggings that are more affordable than slow fashion, a good friend of mine swears by Uniqlo’s “denim leggings” or “jeggings.” She’s owned a pair for years without them pilling or running. They won’t be quite as breathable as Beija Flor’s jeans, which have a higher cotton content (69% and 84% respectively to Uniqlo’s 58%), but otherwise they’ll be comfortable. Uniqlo at least has good corporate social responsibility policies, though investigations have shown they’re not living up to them.
About Beija Flor
Beija Flor’s jeans hit the top of my list for a number of reasons. They’re made in a Brazilian factory that’s won awards for its ethics, Beija Flor is incredibly committed to sustainability (their jeans are washed in an almost closed-loop system, some of them are undyed, and some of them are partly made out of recycled plastic bottles!), and reviewers raved about comfort and fit.
They also had a try-before-you-buy box of 5 jeans, which is exactly what I was looking for: someone to pick out jeans for me without me having to worry about it. Now, that box is definitely not the best financial cost, considering that if you sign up for their mailing list you get 15% off your first order, and those jeans are not cheap. But if you’re like me and basically just want to get it over with, and/or if you’re someone who likes surprises? It’s a good option. For me, it convinced me to buy a pair of jeans I would literally never have picked out, so I’m pretty happy about it.
Beija Flor Jeans: A Review
(Jeans $168-$178; skirts from $142; shorts $90)
And keep in mind, you get 15% off your first order if you get on their mailing list. Also, they had a sale on some jeans for $90 for a 4th of July sale, so you can definitely pick them up for cheaper than $168.
Beija Flor sent me 5 pairs of jeans, which included every fit they offer but the just-released Kate. I ordered them in a size 12, which seemed like a mistake at first– I’m sort of between a 10 and a 12 right now, and most of them seemed big on me. But I loved some of them enough to keep them anyway– which turned out to be a good thing.
(Aside: I’m curious about the Kate, partly because they claim it’s made of “Maxskin with Tencel” on their website, but the fabric description claims it has modal, polyester, and elastane in it, none of which are Tencel. Modal and Tencel are both rayons, but they’re made from different starting materials and with different processes.)
I gravitated toward several very, very, very comfortable jeans, which I later discovered were their summer weight fabrics. They were basically the jackpot of what I was looking for: stretchy enough to be comfy all the time, soft, and still sturdy. And this comes from someone who lived in jeggings for the last 2 years.
Some of the fits really didn’t work on me. (The Jennifer Bootcut is apparently their best-selling bootcut, and it reminded me that yes, many pants-makers still think I have tiny stubby legs.) Two of them did work, though, and I was honestly surprised that both of them did.
The Kelly in Classic Blue fit me really long but otherwise well. For reference, I usually do best with about a 30″ inseam.
That’s their pull-on jean that supposedly “flattens your tummy,” which I would have avoided on my own because usually having something around my stomach makes my reflux way, way worse. This was just fine, comfort-wise, and it fit me at a more natural point on the waist than most jeans, so it really did reduce the muffin-top I get with a lot of pants.
The Audrey in Almond was smashing on me, and went with almost everything I own. This is surprising because I hate basically every iteration of white on me ever, so this is literally the only white-ish color thing I own in my entire wardrobe.
It fit me slightly wider in the thigh and slightly lower in the rise than the Kelly did, it was slightly shorter, and also, IMO, the Kelly makes your butt look better. It was also less soft and smooth to the touch than the Kelly, which again makes sense because of the Kelly’s higher cotton content.
Against my wallet’s better judgment, I bought them both and returned the rest. It took me a while to convince myself to wash them: partly, I was worried that, like my jeggings, they would pill or run after the first wash. Partly they were so comfortable and breathable I kept literally fishing them out of the laundry basket to wear again instead of the other pants I owned. Normally, I’d avoid doing that because sweaty pants are gross, but these breathable pants stayed fresher after several wears than other pants do after one.
This is impressive, because I cannot tell you how much they needed washing when I got them. These jeans were clearly stored in a boutique with, IDK, perfumed soaps? They were soaked in perfume. The almond ones were less bad– they were stored in a plastic wrapper, probably to keep dirt off them– but they still had a scent.
When I washed them, there was no change in the surface of jeans after first wash, much to my relief. They’re still soft, comfortable, and entirely intact! I felt like they shrunk a bit, even though I followed Beija Flor’s care instructions, but they seem to have reverted to their original sizes. Maybe that’s what Beija Flor means by ‘Memory Stretch’ ?
Unfortunately, the smell on the Kelly jeans did not come out in the first wash, which I am honestly pretty startled by. And they made all my other laundry smell like perfume, so if you are sensitive to smells, don’t order these jeans unless they make changes to their storage policies. I will let you know if the smell comes out after wash 2, 3, or 4.
Otherwise, these pants are super great, and if you’re willing to invest a lot of money in jeans for comfort and ethics reason, these are a good option.