How to find the perfect pair of work pants: blended fabrics

Finding a pair of jeans that are flattering, comfortable, and durable can be a challenge. What kind of cut should I get? What inseam do I need to keep the pant hem from rising above my boots? How much stretch do I need in the material?

The last question prompted me to do an experiment with my current collection of work pants. I wanted to know how the fabric blend affected their functionality. In other words, what was used to make my favorite pair of jeans?

When it comes to work pants, a major element that moves a pair of jeans to the top of my list is the stretch. When I have to bend my knees for an extended period of time, a stiffer pair of denim will pinch the skin behind my knee and cause me to stand up more frequently to relieve the irritation. Jeans with more stretch alleviate this problem. This may seem like a trivial aspect of selecting jeans, but when the type of work I will be doing during the day dictates the jeans I wear, it becomes a major issue.

What materials are used to make a stretchier pair of jeans? I thought the best place to start would be to analyze the fabric blends to determine which material pairings provided the optimal amount of stretch.

For this experiment, I wrote down the fabric blends for all of my work pants. Next, I measured the width of the pant leg just above the hem. I then used a force gage to pull on the material with 5 pounds of force and took a second measurement while the material was under load. From those two measurements, I determined the percentage of stretch. Here are the results (my favorite pairs of jeans when it comes to stretchiness are samples 7 and 8).

Sample Fabric Blend Percent Stretch
1 99% Cotton
1% Elastane
8%
2 99% Cotton
1% Elastane
10%
3 99% Cotton
1% Elastane
11%
4 98% Cotton
2% Elastane
11%
5 98% Cotton
2% Elastane
12%
6 77% Cotton
21% Polyester
2% Elastane
14%
7 81% Cotton
17% Polyester
2% Elastane
19%
8 78% Cotton
20% Polyester
2% Elastane
20%

When searching for a new pair of jeans, take a look at what your current favorites are made of and focus your search on jeans that have similar fabric blends. This is especially important when shopping online, since you won’t be able to try them on first. If you are like me and prefer jeans with more elasticity,¬†look for ones that contain a cotton/polyester/elastane blend.

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