Fancy pants: Baby’s got her blue jeans on

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Textile by Elizabeth and James jeans ($328). Find at E Street Denim, Highland Park and Winnetka

Jeans: the ultimate wardrobe staple. Dress them up or down. A reliable pair goes with everything. In the last decade, jean designers and retailers have cashed in on denim’s crucial role in our sartorial lives. As of 2012, jeans priced at $75 or more now account for 11 percent of men’s and 22 percent of women’s denim sales in the country, according to industry research firm NPD Group. Here, in Chicago’s northern suburbs, we have no shortage of these so-called premium pairs.

“You get what you pay for,” said Samantha Lurie of Enaz boutiques in Highland Park and Northfield. “A lot of jeans that you spend maybe less money on: they don’t have the perfect fit or they stretch out or they’re tight in the waistband but they’re big in the sides.”

Lurie said qualities such as intricate stitching, high-quality fabrics and superior construction all add up to higher price tags than your average Levis.

Recent trends have placed embellished, textured and patterned pairs in high demand. With those extra details come extra costs, Lurie said. Even rips and fading that’s meant to make the jeans look distressed increase the price. These kinds of styles will continue to be popular this season, local retailers said, as well as a return to boot or slightly flared cuts, though legs will remain slim-fitting.

To balance out the financial investment, Gina Vericella, owner of Evanston’s Gigi Bottega boutique, said she likes to stock her store’s shelves with lower-priced tops.

“I find people really like to buy their name-brand denim and then maybe spend less money on tops so they can buy more of those to switch out and keep their denim as a staple,” Vericella said.

Looking to splurge? Here are some of the swankiest options:

· Enaz (locations in Highland Park and Northfield): High-end brands carried here include Genetic and J Brand denim priced between $188 and $220, according to Lurie.

· E Street Denim (locations in Highland Park and Winnetka): Textile by Elizabeth and James jeans cost $328 here. (pictured above)

· Skändal (Winnetka): Two cuts here by 2ND Day — the indigo-washed Jolie and dark tie-dyed Sally Shades — come in at $221 each.

· Gigi Bottega (Evanston): New Sold Design Lab styles for fall are priced anywhere from $150 to $300.

· Chalk (Evanston): This boutique’s priciest pairs — one by Barbara Bui and one by The Row — retail for $555 and $450 respectively.

· Neapolitan Collection (Winnetka): Velvet, jean-like pants with zipper details by Stella McCartney here cost $745. The Row’s Stratton legging in blue or black denim is priced at $415.

BY GWENDOLYN PURDOM