We’ve all been there, the dreaded shopping for a new pair of jeans. You have an image in your head, a kind of mix of Kate Moss in the Calvin Klein adverts and Victoria Beckham’s off-duty cool. Instead you feel like the inventor of the muffin top, your bum looks either too flat or too big and there’s so much excess material bunching around your ankles you feel about 2 ft tall. In this post we give a run-down of what vital statistics you need to know before choosing your next pair of go-to denim, how to get the perfect fit and what your favourite fashion stores are doing to help relieve the stress of jeans shopping.
Find a brand that suits you best, there are lots of options available on the high street however if you’re looking for a jean that fits you properly and is going to last longer than one season you should be looking for premium denim. Well-known brands and celebrity favourites include J Brand, MiH Jeans, 7 For All Mankind, True Religion, James Jeans, Hudson Jeans and Siwy.
Most of these brands will specialise in specific cuts and styles so get to know what each label does best. For example if you’re curvy and looking for something to pull you in and not gape at the back Not Your Daughters Jeans (NYDJ) is a great choice, featuring their very own lift tuck technology to make you look a size smaller. On the other hand if you have a more athletic shape and prefer fashion forward, trendy styles MiH’s cute designs and slim fit styles will make you look amazing. Hudson jeans are a great choice for most ladies, with styles ranging from super-skinny to boot cut, however tall girls look best in these jeans as they tend to run long.
Once you’ve got your brand preferences sorted out you have to know which size you are in each. Each brand will differ slightly, particularly brands such as NYDJ which use a different sizing system to the usual waist measurement sizing. Waist size is measured in inches and most jeans are available in sizes 24 to 32. To find out your waist size grab your hips and then move your hands upwards until you reach just above your pelvis, this should be the narrowest part of your body, use a tape measure and to measure the circumference of your waist and that will be your waist size. As a general rule most jeans will correspond to UK dress sizes as follows; size 6 – 25, size 8 – 26, size 10 – 27 and so forth.
When buying jeans most brands will recommend you choose a size smaller to make sure a better fit. This is because denim often ‘gives’ a little and will become looser after a few washes. Stores and online clothing sites that know they’re products well will often indicate which size to choose in the ‘size and fit’ section of a products description.
Most fashion experts will always recommend you keep in mind your body shape when buying jeans, but how do you know what you are? Hourglass, pears, boyish – if this all seems like a different language to you have no fear, there is a few key elements you need to look out for to know your body shape.
First of all don’t worry, you don’t actually have a boys figure. You can still have a bust and a bum with a boyish frame – the important part to look out for is in your torso. If your hips are not as prominent and your waist doesn’t go visibly ‘inward’ then you are most likely to have a boyish body shape. To check simply measure your waist and hips, if there isn’t a lot of difference between the two measurements then this is the category you fall into. Most women with boyish figures will be naturally slim, and this is why the body shape is also known as ‘athletic.’
The great thing about having a boyish figure is that most styles suit you. If you want to look more feminine a higher rise will give you a nipped in look and create the illusion of a slightly more hourglass figure. However low rise’s also work well on you, and your straight frame means they won’t gape as much at the back. Skinny jeans are your best friend, and super-skinny styles will draw attention to your slim legs and hug your hips to create a more feminine silhouette. If you’re more of a boot-cut girl look for styles that are still fitted tight on the thighs and bum or you will be in danger of the fabric drowning you and making you look dowdy.
If you carry your weight on your hips and bum you are a pear-shape and probably find buying jeans a difficult task. Pear shapes often have quite narrow waists and bust and have bottom heavy figures, if your hip measurements are dramatically different to your waist you probably fall in to this category.
Stop panicking Pears! The best style for you is a mid-rise jean, or jeans that are higher at the back to avoid gaping. In order to elongate and slim your legs think about the wash you choose, an all-black wash may be too harsh for you, indigo’s with fading and whiskering on the thighs will work better. Avoid skinny jean styles as they will only make your bum look bigger, boot-cuts are a great option to give you a more hourglass shape and straight-leg styles will give you longer looking legs and slim down your hips.
You have a typical womanly figure that goes in and out in the right places, a tiny waist and large bust and hip measurements. If your bust is a similar width to hip measurements you are an hourglass.
You look great in most jeans but a slim straight-cut style is your wardrobe staple, a higher rise will show off your tiny waist and a dark wash will make your killer figure stand-out whilst slimming down your thighs, which hourglass shapes often find to be quite top-heavy.
Many stores and online e-commerce websites have recognized the difficulty in buying jeans and feel your pain. Self-ridges have gone all futuristic and worked with Bodymetrics and its body-scanning technology to help you find the perfect style to fit each contour on your body. The service is available in the Oxford Street flagship store and re-launches later this year.
Meanwhile over in the online world Jeanography have just launched their Fit First Time service, designed to make buying jeans online less hassle and increase the chances of the customer finding a pair of jeans they love. The home-trial service uses a mix of expert stylist advice and personal questions about the customer’s size, shape and favourite styles to find a product that will fit perfectly. The service is free of charge for three pairs of jeans and you are given 7 days to try the products on before deciding which ones you want to keep, read more about it here.
We hope this guide has helped you through the mind-field of jeans buying, and one day all of womankind will own a perfect pair of well-fitting jeans. Amen.
Tara writes for Jeanography, an online premium jeans retailer.