“Ninety percent of the time, I wear a high waisted jean,” said designer Jenni Kayne. “On my body type – I have wider hips and a smaller waist – I just think it looks best.” Jenni, who greeted me at her temporary home in L.A.’s Brentwood neighborhood wearing white skinnies by Imogene + Willie with a fisherman sweater from her fall collection and well-worn crocodile loafers from the old-school Italian shoe company, Gravati, is in denim six days a week. “At least!,” she exclaimed before saying it’s more like everyday. “I love trousers, but sometimes they make me feel too grown up.” We totally get it, Jenni.
So what else, besides a high waist, does Jenni look for in the jeans she wears while running a fashion business, a blog, and a household (she is mom to Tanner, seven, and Ripley, four)? “Ease, elegance. Styles that are classic and not too directional,” she said. Sort of like everything you’ll find in a Jenni Kayne store, of which there will be six by the end of this year, in West Hollywood, Brentwood, Palo Alto, Montecito, Newport Beach, and Marin County, CA. Did I mention she’s growing a retail empire, also? Here’s to Jenni wearing jeans while she does it.
Describe your Imogene + Willie jeans in one word?
What do you love most about them?
I’ve always been a huge fan of high-wasted jeans! I live in my Imogene + Willies. They are so comfortable, and I’ve owned the same pair for years. The fit really just keeps getting better with time. I also love the color. They’re a bit off-white, which I find easier to wear than starch-white denim.
If you could go anywhere in the world in your jeans tomorrow, where would it be?
What do your jeans and you have in common?
We’re not about trends. I focus on finding jeans that will hold up over time versus styles that will only be in for a season or two.
What do your jeans reveal about what you do and how you live on a daily basis?
I believe in form and function. I think both are attainable — you can have beautiful pieces that are still purposeful and timeless. I also always stick to a classic and comfortable uniform, and I think my jeans really speak to that sensibility in my day-to-day dressing.
What do your Imogene + Willie’s know about you that no one else knows?
That I have the bad habit of throwing my jeans on the floor instead of hanging them up or folding them nicely!
What’s the best possible thing you could be doing in them right now?
Lately, I’ve been wanting to take a long bike ride with my husband and kids down the coast. Fall weather is perfect for enjoying time outdoors.
What would you say to women who think wearing white jeans is too much work? Or too risky?
White jeans get better as they’re lived in and get a little messy! Pair with a great collared shirt or a cashmere sweater and you can’t go wrong.
What’s the best advice you ever got about how to wear jeans? Who gave it to you?
I don’t think I’ve ever received any advice about how to wear jeans, but my best friend Jessica de Ruiter always inspires me because she wears denim so well. She embodies the definition of effortlessly cool style, especially when it comes to jeans.
What advice would you give women looking for new jeans right now?
Less is always more. For me, a high-waisted cut looks best on my body, so I always gravitate toward that style. It’s important to try different silhouettes and find what fit works best for you.
What are some of the jeans brands that you sell at your stores?
We currently carry Acne Studios denim. I’ve been a huge fan of Acne jeans for years. They have a style for everyone, and the quality and construction of their pieces are flawless.
What signs of quality do you look for in the jeans that you sell?
It’s important to me to find jeans that are flattering on women. I invest in brands that I believe in and I only sell product that I wear. When I’m looking for new brands to add to the store, I’m searching for quality denim that will hold up and wear well over time.
How do you know a good jean when you see it?
It’s more of a feeling. You have to try them on, but I always take a chance on a good high-waisted jean.
What’s your favorite way to wear denim?
Right now, I love layering an Organic by John Patrick slip dress over my jeans, paired with mules, and a chunky turtleneck.
When it is always appropriate to wear jeans?
When you live in California.
When is it never appropriate to wear jeans?
To a wedding, I suppose…or any invite with the words black tie or cocktail in front of it.
What jeans are you most excited to wear next?
I’m so excited about The Great’s Nerd style. They’re also high-waisted (of course, it’s me), and they have the perfect crop. I can’t take them off.
Fill in the blank: In my jeans, I am _________.
Confident and comfortable.