If jeans aren’t stretchy enough to curl up in the fetal position and nap on the plane, I’m not wearing them.

By Maya Kachroo-Levine
August 03, 2019
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DL1961 Emma Skinny Jeans Lead
Credit: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Does anyone like to fly in jeans? Maybe for a quick trip from New York City up to Boston, where you could just as easily get away with wearing slacks and a blazer. But for a long flight, really, I’m more of a J. Crew linen-cotton pants or Lululemon Align tights kind of person. The confines of jeans on an airplane are, in a word, unforgiving. Nonetheless, sometimes jeans are required for a long flight, whether you have a full day lined up as soon as you land or you’re flying with coworkers that you’d rather not show your ripped sweatpants to.

Initially, I went for full-on jeggings when flying in jeans. After all, if you have a legging-adjacent option while flying over the Atlantic, why not take it? Unfortunately, the discount jean-legging hybrid isn’t always my friend on a plane, as I’ve learned the hard way.

My go-tos now are DL1961, because they truly offer a cotton legging-level of comfort in a professional but laid-back denim vehicle. DL1961 is a New York-based denim company that’s been making jeans since the early 1990s. A sustainability-forward brand, they actually use only eight gallons of water to make a pair of jeans (whereas a typical pair of jeans requires approximately 1,500 gallons of water). And the jeans are made from botanic fibers and dyed with clean indigo.

DL1961 Emma Skinny Jeans
Credit: Courtesy of Nordstrom

To buy: dl1961.com, $108 (originally $179)

My plane denim of choice is the Emma Low-Rise Skinny in the classic blue Reed color. In addition finding them (on sale right now!) at DL1961, they’re sold at Nordstrom and on Amazon.

It’s actually not that they’re jeggings per se — it’s that they are made from “super-sculpting, high-retention amazingly comfy stretchy fibers.” And I can vouch — those fibers really are wildly comfortable while still giving you a classically form-fitting look. It’s the softness and breathability of the cotton that makes these flexible enough for a long flight. And I’m personally of the opinion that if the jeans aren’t stretchy enough to curl up in the fetal position and nap on the plane, I’m not wearing them.