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Premium Denim for Less

Premium denim usually comes at a premium price. Where to find labels for less

Nordstrom Rack has the best selection for men: Among its well-organized racks, we spotted True Religion ($99.97 from $216), Rock & Republic ($109.99 from $200), and Seven for All Mankind ($99.97 from $176). For women, there were many sizes in Seven for All Mankind, Joe's, True Religion ($99.97 from $216), and Lucky Brand.

Loehmann's is better for women than men, with jeans from brands including Hudson ($79.99 from $176), Seven for All Mankind ($79.99 from $158), Joe's ($79.99 from $187), and Salt Works ($39.99 from $150), as well as a smattering of Level 99, AG, and True Religion.

There's a small but well-organized selection of Seven for All Mankind, Rock & Republic ($159.99 from $257), and True Religion ($129.99 from $194) at Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. More deeply discounted were the options at Filene's Basement, which had Seven for All Mankind, Paper Denim & Cloth ($49.99 from $150), Calvin Klein, and Blue Cult ($49.99 from $180).

The Levi's brand is back in a big way, with trendier styles and washes that run $60 to $80 at the company's marquee stores. But Kohl's also carries the brand—in the current cuts, using slightly lesser-weight denim—for $20 to $40.

The Madison and Friends Outlet, which carries discounts from the children's store, also offers jeans for adults from both the Gold Coast and Roscoe Village locations of The Denim Lounge. You'll find overstock, sale merchandise, sample sizes, and manufacturer leftovers that are a mix of current and end-of-season styles, marked 30 to 90 percent off.

Recently, a pair of 1921 jeans were $48.90 from $163; Hudson jeans were $52.80 from $175; and Chip & Pepper was $59.40 from $198.

The Warehouse Sale, a massive Los Angeles-based denim sample sale, makes at least two trips a year to Chicago. Here premium denim for men and women goes for up to 80 percent off (which means priced at or below wholesale) for brands such as Genetic, Antik, True Religion, Tavertini, and Chip & Pepper. Sign up to receive e-mail alerts at thewarehousesale.com.

The secondhand shop Plato's Closet has a surprisingly wide and affordable selection. The racks are organized by size, and premium brands are mixed in with the likes of Gap and H&M. We found Seven jeans for $15; James for $25; Paper Denim & Cloth for $30; and 575, Chip & Pepper, and Citizens of Humanity for $35. In the men's section, we spotted Paper Denim & Cloth for $28, Seven for $35, and True Religion for $40.

Swerve Clothing Exchange is a gem in a strip mall, offering many straight-from-the- manufacturer designer jeans from Paige, Citizens of Humanity, and Joe's (all impeccable, and at least $20 less than in a department store), as well as secondhand options from brands like Seven for All Mankind (priced $49 to $59) and many others of the usuals, all in great condition.

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