Zara Woman baggy jeans, 3.1 Phillip Lim baggy jeans

Baggy Denim showdown: Zara vs. 3.1 Phillip Lim

One fun part about thrifting and buying second hand is I come across a wider range of labels than I would shopping at the local mall or that I could afford retail. But it does lead to the question are two baggy jeans better than none?

A couple of years ago I bought a pair of 3.1 Phillip Lim baggy jeans at a consignment shop with credit. They weren’t (and still aren’t) flattering in any obvious way, but I liked the soft linen and I was attracted, I cannot deny, by the label. Phillip Lim is a young designer who came to prominence for many non-fashiony people with his Target collaboration in 2013. Since I spend lots of time looking at and reading about clothes, I was familiar with his name and curious to see one of his pieces in person. So I took them. I have worn them sporadically but they are hard to style and I have not come into my own with them.

Recently I found a pair of Zara Woman baggy jeans at a second hand shop for about $12. Zara clothing is usually marked as Woman, Basic or TRF and Woman is supposed to be the highest quality. I was intrigued by the button down fly, the material which is a cotton/linen blend and I guess they didn’t seem so similar to the baggy denim I had at home at the moment.  So I took them.

Folly perhaps but I am still learning. So while I have two pairs of baggy jeans at my disposal, I thought it would be interesting to see the difference between designer label jeans and fast fashion jeans using some of the parameters I have read about.

First of all the material  and the craftsmanship. I turned both jeans inside out to show the difference in finish.

fabric content comparison
Zara inside out, 3.1 Phillip LIm inside out, Zara fabric label, 3.1 Phillip Lim fabric label

I kept the Zara on the left and the Phillip Lim pair on the right in all photos – this is not a test! Anyway, as you can see the 3.1 Phillip Lim pair has a neater and more professional finish. The Zara pair, however, is pretty nicely finished with real pockets. The bigger difference to my eye is the fabric – both pairs were washed in the washing machine and hung to dry. The Zara pair is a cotton/linen blend and the 3.1 Phillip Lim pair 100% linen. The Zara pair is sort of linty and rumpled whereas the 3.1’s are smooth and lie nicely.

A tip that I have read many times is to check the stitching. Here is the stitching of the two pairs:

stitch comparison
Zara jeans left, 3.1 Phillip Lim jeans right

Again, it seems clear to me that the 3.1’s have nicer stitching with some allowance (extra material) at the seams, but I was pretty impressed with the Zara pair as well.

But the real test is how they look on and how wearable they are. It is all well and good to have nicely finished seams but it won’t get you far if you don’t like how you look in the jeans! For the sake of science I took comparison shots with the same plain linen t-shirt.

side by side jeans comparison
Left: Zara Woman jeans (second hand), Right: 3.1 Phillip Lim jeans (second hand), Both: Zara tee, Dries van Noten slides (thrifted)

So what do you say? Do you prefer one over the other? Is the difference worth the $200 or so extra dollars the 3.1 Phillip Lim pair probably retailed? Do they both look awful and you have no idea why I am wasting my time with baggy denim? Sell one? Sell both? All friendly opinions welcome!



  1. Susan

    Great comparison! I actually do prefer the Lims. They drape more nicely. And I think they look great on you! They’d be super in your climate. You just need the right tops, I think. Are the LIms worth the higher price tag? Too difficult to say. How many seasons ahead of the curve were they? For someone who really wanted these — they’d still have them 3 or 4 years later. There’s value in that. In your case, you got a deal on both!

    1. Jaime

      Thanks Susan! Yes it is hard to say what a piece of clothing is worth, but although I do think the Zara jeans are pretty well made, I agree the Phillip Lim’s are better made and designed. Also they wash better!

  2. Deborah

    If I were choosing one over the other, it would be the PL’s. They are dressier and on first look, don’t appear to be ‘jeans’. The cut is flattering and creates a nice long line (as Caro pointed out). I think they would be more versatile too. Dress them up or down more easily than the Zara pair. The Zara pair look good but the they look baggy all over and are not quite as flattering.

  3. ladywone

    Obviously the Lim are better quality I think flatter you. This is a hard one for me my eye cannot adjust to the baggy ness. Is this also known as boyfriend jeans. I still struggle with this.

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