Happy 2022! I hope everyone is staying safe and well through these crazy times.
The need for cheans
We’re coming up on two full years of pandemic time. With so many of us working from home pretty much permanently now, dressing for comfort has become a top priority. As the months of isolation have turned into years, I admit it’s gotten harder to care about fashion or to resist the temptation to just wear pyjama pants around the house all the time.
I still make a point of getting “dressed for work” every day, which has been easier to keep up with thanks to how many of my meetings take place with cameras on. But I’ve begun to question the need for stylish jeans when basically nobody sees them.
To that end, I was looking for a pair of comfortable, casual jeans that I could wear around the house, to work from home, or on my daily walks around the neighbourhood. In other words, jeans that look like real pants, but feel as comfortable as sweatpants or pyjamas. I’ll call them cheat jeans, or “cheans” for short.
I’ve been excited to write this review for a while. Since I first heard about Democracy Jeans and their commitment to providing flattering, comfortable clothing to fit all body sizes and shapes, I’ve wanted to try their denim. Their commitment to size inclusiveness and body positivity is something I share and fully encourage, and I absolutely loved the idea of the hidden stretch band at the waist for those times when real pants seemed like too much of a bother.
Unfortunately, Democracy is an American brand that only ships within the US. Since COVID has made cross-border shopping basically impossible, I wasn’t able to get my hands on a pair of their jeans in Canada. Until I discovered recently that Amazon.ca has a limited selection of their “Ab”solution jeans for sale, including petite sizes! Say what you will about the evil Bezos corporation, but they do make shopping much more convenient sometimes.
The “Ab”solution jean is a creation by Democracy to try to make denim flattering and comfortable to all body shapes. Here’s how Democracy describes them:
They market their jeans as being “curve inclusive”, which is something they take seriously and add on all their tags and labels. Being a rather curvy pear-shaped woman myself, I was excited to see how their so-called engineered “lift and enhance” denim would look on my body.
Even more exciting: Most of Democracy’s jean styles come in petite sizes! Not every style of denim does, and unfortunately, they don’t make any of their tops, sweaters or jackets in petites (which is something I hope they’ll consider doing in the future). But their denim range is quite widely available in petites. (The selection in Canada on Amazon is only a small subset of what the US site offers, but I hope we’ll start seeing more available styles here soon.)
The mid-rise straight leg jean
I picked up a pair of the “Ab”solution Petite Straight Leg Indigo Jeans, which are described as a mid-rise, six-pocket jean made of stretch denim, with light whiskering. Fabric is 54% cotton, 27% rayon, 17% polyester and 2% spandex, which is not exactly premium (I usually prefer mostly cotton) but makes for a comfortable fit. The stats for the petite length are as follows:
- Mid-rise approx. 9″
- Inseam approx. 29″
- Leg opening approx. 14″
Here how these look on the model:
And here’s how they look on 5’1″ me:
They fit perfectly in my usual size of 4P. Democracy suggests sizing down for a more curve-hugging fit, compared to other brands of denim, so I was tempted to order them in a 2P, but I’m glad I didn’t; the fit is just right, and I bought them to be comfortable to wear around the house, so having them feel too tight would be counterproductive.
The length is perfect on me, with the 29″ inseam coming just a half-inch or so from the floor and fitting perfectly with booties or heels. Note that I’m a 5’1″ petite with a short torso and relatively long legs for my height, so if you’re the opposite, or you have a shorter inseam than I do, you may find you need to hem these a bit. But for me, they were exactly right as is.
What I like
- The comfort factor. These don’t feel like jeans; they’re more like fashion-acceptable sweatpants. The stretch panel at the waist, the soft fabric, and the looser leg opening, all mean that these are extremely comfortable to wear around the house, which is exactly what I was looking for with these. Basically, I was hoping for “cheans”, and these deliver.
- They fit almost perfectly. No hemming needed; the length was just right. They’re true to size, and the waist, hips, thighs, and leg areas all fit well.
- The mid rise. In this era of high rise everything being on trend, it’s hard to find a proper midrise pair of jeans anymore. As a short-torsoed petite, I find high rise pants to be incredibly uncomfortable and unflattering on me. The rise on these is almost perfect, coming to just about the belly button area.
- The leg opening is wide enough to be comfortable for lounging around (and to fit my long johns underneath on cold days), but narrow enough to tuck into my boots — an absolute must for Canadian winters! I don’t want to return to the 90s era of flared jeans anytime soon, which inevitably ended up with salt and slush stains all over the backs of the jeans.
- The butt area. Yep, ladies, we need to talk about it. And I must say, the curve-flattering stitching does nice things to lift and flatter the view from behind. (My boyfriend approves, too.)
What I don’t like
- The whiskering detail at the thighs is not the most flattering on my pear-shaped body. I wish the denim were a bit darker and more uniform. Some women with different body shapes may appreciate the way the whiskering adds curves at the hips and thighs, but I’m pear-shaped and already have plenty of those, so would prefer to minimize them, thanks anyway.
- They have a bit of a waist gap at the back. It’s not nearly as bad as on some other brands, but given the way Democracy talks a big game about flattering curvy bodies, I was a bit disappointed on that front.
- The quality seems questionable for a pair of premium denim. I noticed some loose threads right out of the bag, and the high percentage of rayon and polyester in the fabric make me wonder how well it will hold up after multiple washings. Stay tuned.
- Overall, the straight leg style is not as flattering as my dark-wash skinnies. Take a look at a side-by-side comparison of the Democracy “Ab”solution Straight legs (middle) versus my Old Navy Pop Icon Skinny Dark-Wash Jeans (left) or my Fidelity Belvedere Midrise Dark Wash Skinnies (right) and you’ll see what I mean:
Left: Old Navy Mid-Rise Pop Icon Skinny Dark-Wash Jean, size 4P
Centre: Democracy “Ab”solution Petite Straight Leg Indigo Jean, size 4P
Right: Fidelity Belvedere Mid-Rise Skinny Jean, size 27 (hemmed)
As you can see, compared to a skinny jean, these straight-leg jeans are somewhat saggy and baggy in the thigh and leg area. They’re fine to wear around the house, but they aren’t exactly making me feel awesome and sexy. They’re more of the “well, these are not pyjamas, but that’s about all the effort I’m willing to put in today” jeans.
Democracy doesn’t really make skinny jeans; they make what they bill as “jeggings“, which might fit more like skinnies but I fear might be too thin and tight. Even so, I might try them out next, to see if I find them more flattering on me.
The “Ab”solution jeans are exactly what I was hoping they’d be: A comfy, cozy pair of jeans that feel more like sweatpants, perfect for lounging around or working from home during a pandemic.
I find that they deliver on their promise of comfort, and I like that they’re available in a wide range of sizes and styles to fit all body types. However, they fail a bit on their promise to flatter. I found this style to be a bit baggy and frumpy looking; far from my best-looking jeans.
Would I wear them out to dress up? Probably not. Do I think they’re the most flattering? No. But will they work well as “cheans” to wear around the house when I want to look like I’ve bothered to get dressed in real clothes while feeling like I’m wearing pyjamas? ABso-effin’-lutely.
Jeans: Democracy “Ab”solution Petite Straight Leg Indigo Jean, size 4P, $71.83 CAD from Amazon.ca.
T-shirt: Old Navy Petite Everywear V-Neck, size XSP, $14.99 CAD
Socks: Darn Tough Merino Lightweight Crew, size S, $28 CAD from Altitude Sports.
Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction (really, really old)
DISCLAIMER: This is true of all my posts, but I feel the need to reiterate it here because Democracy is one of those brands that seems to use a lot of sponsored marketing: I don’t get paid for any of these reviews, and all the clothes I buy and review are paid for out of my own pocket. There are no affiliate links anywhere on this blog. Everything you see here is my honest opinion, and I don’t make any money off this site; it’s just something I do for fun.