My husband posed this question to me recently. I looked him in the eye and retorted back, "How many records do you need?" At first glance, vinyl and denim don't seem comparable. As a collector and curator of clothing, though, I argue that they are. "Music is endless," you say, "There's so many styles and artists and genres." My reply? Indeed, and so is denim.
Owning a single pair of jeans to cover all my bases seems ludicrous. I need variety. A bootcut pair for heels and boots (obvi). A wide leg pair for a more upscale look (they are clutch as a substitute for trousers). An oversized pair for relaxed days. A white pair and a cropped pair for summer days. Black jeans for days I want to add edge. A skinny pair for that early aughts aesthetic. A straight leg pair for every day. And, of course, I'll need them in different washes, lengths, and rises. I'll need some with lots of distressing, some mildly distressed, and some without a stitch of distressing anywhere. I'll also need some with a smidge of stretch and few that are rigid. The possibilities are, well, endless.
Even if you're a leggings girl (which I am not), a well rounded denim drawer is key. You might not invest in as many pairs as I do, but a few solid pairs will elevate your wardrobe. How many pairs, exactly, should that be? Well, I suppose that depends. As a denim lover, I'm biased. But if I had to go out on a limb, I'd say no less than three.
You need at least one classic, full length pair of jeans that suit your body type. A straight leg jean is good for most and will never go out of style. Opt for something not too relaxed and not too fitted. Buy them in a clean, dark wash with minimal to no distressing. That pair will be your "good pair." Baby them. Don't over wash them (over washing denim is a big no-no if you want them to last. Only wash them when they're dirty or stretched out). Don't wear them for weekend chores. This is the pair that will take you to work, a dinner party, bar hopping, and back again.
Beyond that, I recommend adding at least two other pairs to your wardrobe in styles that you love. Own one pair for piddling around your house and running errands in. And then another pair that you can wear with your favorite casual sandals. A cute cropped pair would be ideal for that situation.
If you're into jeans, consider a trendy pair. Low rise jeans are back and so are oversized, baggy jeans. Flare jeans are also a great wardrobe edition, although it can be challenging to find the perfect pair. Be prepared to hunt for them.
I read somewhere that the average woman owns 7 pairs (please don't ask me to reference that, but doesn't it sound like a good number?). That sounds reasonable to me. At least for a non-collector. As for me? Someone please ask my hubby to clear out some records to make space for my new jeans.