Stylist and Vogue contributor Lawren Howell is what we call a fashion compass – if you read what she’s wearing at any given moment you’ll likely be able to gauge the direction your look is headed in. Take the Mother denim pencil skirt that she chose to wear for our shoot, as an example. No one we’ve photographed thus far has worn (or wanted to wear) a denim pencil skirt. But come September, just wait, we’ll all be buying them. Nearly every jeans company we know and love did a pencil skirt for fall. Trust us – trust Lawren! – they’re about to be very cool again.

Forward as it is in moments, Lawren’s style is still never forced. If anything, it’s classic – easily the most overused word in fashionland, but one that truly applies to the enduringly beautiful and elegant way that Lawren dresses, and has dressed since we all were young assistants together at Vogue a decade ago (yikes, has it been that long?). Her all-white look below – Helmut Lang straight-leg, white tee, clean jacket – is one we swear she wore then, and will probably wear ten years from now, too. Could the Mother skirt have longevity like that? Lawren plucking it from the pack gives it as best a chance as any.

Describe your denim in one word.

My Helmut Lang jeans: white. My Mother skirt: comfy.

What do you need your jeans to be, always?

I need them to not be too stretchy, and not be revealing when bending over.

If your denim could talk, what would it say about you?

My Helmuts would say that I need to be a little more precious with them since they are white and I spill on them constantly.

What’s the most memorable place your jeans have been?

The white jeans went with me on my honeymoon in Spain.

What’s the weirdest place?

Left hung to dry outside of a goat herder’s 150-year-old hut on a cliff over the ocean in Mallorca. Also on my honeymoon.

Was there ever a pair that got away? When? How?

There was a pair of white dip-dyed jeans from the Dries Van Noten spring 2011 collection that I tried on at Barneys and let go because I thought they were too ubiquitous that season. I still think about them and wish I had them because I would wear them all of the time on weekends and to the office today.

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Was there a pair you should have broken up with sooner?

Bootcut AGs that look so flattering on and I simply cannot part with. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll be wearing their silhouette again soon, if I just give it a little more time.

Do you own a pair that only you could love?

Yes! A pair of vintage Levi’s that probably add 10 lbs to me. But they are the perfect color blue and so comfortable.

What are your top three jeans of all time? When did you get them and what you do you love most about each?

A baggy pair of Junya Watanabe jeans in a faded blue; a pair of dark grey-blue, extra-long stovepipe jeans from Acne, and a pair of Balenciaga slim-fits in a beautiful pistachio color.

What are the first jeans you ever had, or remember having, if different from any you’ve already mentioned.

I remember a reversible jean jacket I had in first grade that could be tucked into the hood and zipped up into a little pouch. My sister had a matching one.

Who besides you has worn your jeans?

No one, I don’t think.

Is there a pair your still own from a previous life?

The aforementioned dark blue-grey Acnes; I got them at the Acne store in Soho about seven years ago before husband and babies. They’re such a wardrobe staple of mine that I had them turned into maternity jeans by having an elastic insert added to that I could keep wearing them through my pregnancies.

Lawren Howell

How many pairs of jeans do you need to feel satisfied and like you have enough?

I’m pretty satisfied with the amount of jeans I own. I think if you can alternate jeans throughout the week for casual, work, and dressy events I think you’re set.

What do you love most about the ones you wore for our shoot?

I love the pencil skirt’s length. It’s a midi – a length that looks great with sandals. And what I love about the white jeans is that they have no stretch to them; they are really thick, almost like canvas.

What do your jeans reveal about the way that you live on a daily basis?

That I value comfort and versatility.

Is there something you only do in your jeans?

Work on photo shoots.

On what occasion(s) will only a pair of jeans do?

Almost any involving kids.

Where do you buy your jeans?

There is no one place that I go to, in fact, I find it too overwhelming to try on jeans in big stores. My favorite jeans I’ve found in boutiques that offer very few jeans.

If you had to replace all of your jeans with something else, what would it be?

Black cashmere leggings that are cropped just above the ankle.

Fill in the blank: Without my jeans, I am…

…confused about what to wear.

Fill in the blank: In my jeans, I am…