What are Stretch Jeans?

S. Reynolds

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

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.

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

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.

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

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Discussion Comments


@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.


@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.


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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