There you are standing in yet another store, trying on the umpteenth pair of jeans, only to find the fit just isn’t there. There’s a weird gap in the back of the waistband. Or the knee-whiskering falls by your calves. And, did your butt always look like that? Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. But, for all of the dread and stress of finding that magical pair of jeans (where is our Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when we need them?), it doesn’t have to be. With a little help from the experts, we’ve created the ultimate guide to helping you find the most flattering jeans for your body type.
First thing’s first: Measure yourself before you hit the store or the web. Most contemporary denim brands size by waist, AKA the toughest place to alter, so you’ll want to get it right. Step two: Check the inseam, the distance from the crotch to bottom of your leg and the secret sauce of denim magic to unlocking a flattering shape. Lastly, consider the color. Darker, clean washes are your best bet as they flatter any body type and, most importantly, are always in season. Here’s a little-known fact: The rinse can affect how your jeans feel.
“Different washes undergo different fabric treatments so it can range from a softer, worn-in feel for lighter washes to slightly more structured and rigid on dark or black denim,” says Sarah Ahmed, Creative Director of DL1961 and Founder of Warp + Weft. Distressed denim (think acid wash, bleach spots, or decorative holes) and trendy details (embroidery or patchwork, anyone?) have their time and place in your arsenal too so experiment outside your comfort zone. “Your denim should make you look good and feel good. Don’t be afraid to try different fits and washes – you just may be surprised!” says Ahmed.
Don’t leave the dressing room until you’ve seen yourself from every angle. “Always check out the butt,” says Ahmed. “You should be able to bend, sit, and comfortably move around without your jeans slipping down or losing their shape.” Make sure your jeans fit tight and right by completing the five moves for the best denim fit below.
Honey, if you’ve got it — flaunt it. There is no better way to show off your coveted curves than with a great pair of form-fitting blues. According to Rosaliz Jimenez, Fashion Director at Dia & Co, knowing your shape and understanding your body’s proportions is key. “Not all curvy women are built the same way. Some of us carry our weight in our bellies, others in our booties, and some of us are short waisted or long waisted,” she says. Keep an eye out for styles with gap-proof waist bands and tech-infused fabrications that sculpt your bangin’ bod.
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Ladies over 5’8”, this one’s for you! Other than the all-important inseam length (look for 33” to 34”), rise, pocket, and knee placement all factor into the equation. Your longer proportions mean that most denim styles will work for you without shoes. But you can’t exactly conquer the world barefoot, so pay attention to that awkward gap between your ankle and foot. Surfing the web for your go-to denim? No problem — just take note of the model’s height in the product notes to gauge where the hem will fall on you.
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When you’re under 5’4”, clothing can be challenging — especially pants. Waistbands are perpetually out of proportion with thighs, loose-fitting styles look sloppy, or flares start entirely too high, and, of course, less height means hems regularly fall too long on you. We get it. But SWT (shopping while tiny) can still be stress-free. Getting up close and personal with a great tailor is imperative, but they typically tackle hemline woes. For more structural concerns, turn to higher-waisted styles that elongate your frame and help define your physique. Opt for designated petite lines that design with you in mind.
Shorter torsos, inseams, and more narrow leg widths are all factors to keep in mind. According to Joe Dahan, Founder and Creative Director of Joe’s Jeans, “Never compromise on the placement of the back pockets. That's what makes the jeans look like they're made for you.” Look for them just below the yoke of your jeans to ensure short girl magic. Take, for example, this BDG Twig Mid-Rise Skinny Jean ($69) on Alonna. The pockets don’t dip too far beyond her backside — a detail that adds proportion to her small frame.
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WRITTEN BY ZOEY WASHINGTON AND RACHEL ASCHENBRAND-ROBINSON
STYLING BY ZOEY WASHINGTON
PHOTOS BY CHRIS ANDRE
HAIR AND MAKEUP BY MISTY SPINNEY
DESIGNED BY: ROSEE CANFIELD
MODELS: NATASHA THOMAS, MARIANNE KOO, AND ALONNA MORRISON
(ALL CELEBRITY PHOTOS VIA GETTY)
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