What are Stretch Jeans?

S. Reynolds
S. Reynolds
Stretch jeans are composed of cotton and spandex.
Stretch jeans are composed of cotton and spandex.

Stretch jeans are a style of denim pant composed of cotton and spandex, which is a type of synthetic, elastic fiber. Jeans that contain a little bit of stretchy material look like regular jeans, but they stretch with the wearer's movements. Both men and women usually purchase stretch denim jeans because they are formfitting, yet comfortable and lightweight.

Stretch jeans usually form-fit to the legs, hips and butt.
Stretch jeans usually form-fit to the legs, hips and butt.

Stretch denim is a relatively new form of jean material. People have been wearing regular denim jeans for more than 100 years, ever since Levi StraussĀ® invented the first pair for working men. Lycra, the brand name for spandex, has been around since the late 1950s. Lycra is popular because it is actually more durable than rubber. It is only recently that spandex was integrated with denim to create stretch jeans.

Both men and women can wear jeans with spandex.
Both men and women can wear jeans with spandex.

Jeans that are advertised as "stretch" contain about one or two percent of a spandex material and 98 percent of a denim cotton. This tiny amount of elastic gives the denim a softer, stretchier feel. The jeans can be washed, dried and ironed just like regular denim jeans.

Most companies that manufacture jeans offer stretch jeans, usually for women and girls. The jeans are designed to hug the wearer's body while allowing him or her to move with ease. They are priced about the same as non-stretchy jeans.

Stretch jeans also come in a leggings form. These jeans have much more spandex and less denim. They look like regular stretchy jeans, but they feel and fit like leggings. The fabric is more lightweight and form fitting. These leggings-like jeans are popular with women who want a lightweight pant.

Skinny jeans almost always contain spandex, which gives the pants a tight, yet bendable fit. This style of jean tapers at the ankles to hug the entire lower body. Skinny jeans were popular in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 21st century. Some people call this style of jean "hipster," "emo," or "rock star."

Both men and women can wear jeans with spandex. Men who prefer to wear skinny jeans are usually wearing jeans that contain spandex. Children can also wear spandex jeans.

These garments last a long time and do not show much wear due to the durability of spandex. Over time, spandex jeans can get stretched out, which is permanent. Jeans that contain elastic materials will probably be on the market for a long time due to their comfort and versatility.

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Discussion Comments

anon1005338

I hate to disappoint you but the fit of the 100% cotton denim jean was popular in the 1960's & 1970's as "rock star" jeans because they did not contain spandex. Spandex is a newer breed of fabric to appear in men's denim. I wouldn't even call it denim. It should be called faux denim, like faux mink.

True, the newer trend is the skinny Jean that has a small amount of spandex.

They were mixing polyester with cotton denim in the 1960's & 1970's, but not spandex. Polyester blended with cotton is still a non-stretch fabric.

So when you would see a young Mick Jagger perform on stage with his jeans hiked up, two sizes too small and his package on world display, the only way that look is achieved is with 100% cotton, or perhaps a cotton/polyester blend. But spandex does not allow for this look.

Spandex does nothing for a man's body, but conceal his masculinity by overstretching. While non-spandex denim is more difficult to learn to like, the ultimate fit and feel against a man's body remains tight. This was a very popular look in past generations, but is now lost due to spandex.

Famous leaders such as Washington and Napolian appear in portraits wearing tight 100% cotton. Spandex is a garbage fabric and does not belong in men's denim. Furthermore, the durability of spandex in denim is easy to debunk. After several wash and dry cycles, your faux denim loses its ability to rebound and when spandex denim is worn in the workplace as coveralls or jeans, it usually suffers premature wear and tear and cannot take the abuse like 100% cotton.

So the only way spandex in jeans can be mass marketed to the public is through the mass appeal of using "comfort" as the gimmick. Also, the manufacturers will not tell you that they are saving millions because spandex jeans are cheaper to produce. And they are making millions because the product fails prematurely and the dumbed-down consumer runs out and buys another pair.

BambooForest

@accordion- I think that many of the flares that were popular in the late 90s and early 2000s were just fitted for one specific body type- the skinny and tall kind- and that many of the rest of us felt like we just couldn't find ones that fit right.

These days though, there are more options. I do have a pair or two of flares and wide legs with a little stretch, and it helps, but it doesn't replace something cut well for your body- if there isn't space for your thighs, butt, hips, or just torso length in general, stretch won't help much.

accordion

@panda2006- I agree, skinny stretch jeans can look really good, and even straight leg are nice with a little stretch if you have curves.

Back when flares were the only kind in style, though, I felt the kind with stretch didn't really do much besides just look stretched out if the whole thing didn't fit me. I don't know if this was just me, though.

panda2006

I used to think stretch jeans stretched in all the wrong places. Lately, though, I discovered a few pairs in more straight-leg or skinny-leg styles that I really liked. Since jeans are changing all the time but stretch seems here to stay, I am glad companies are offering a lot of different options.

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    • Stretch jeans are composed of cotton and spandex.
      Stretch jeans are composed of cotton and spandex.
    • Stretch jeans usually form-fit to the legs, hips and butt.
      Stretch jeans usually form-fit to the legs, hips and butt.
    • Both men and women can wear jeans with spandex.
      Both men and women can wear jeans with spandex.