Jean shopping can be incredibly stressful for most women. As a person who has worked in fashion retail for many years, I can sympathize with the stress and anxiety that come from pair after pair of jeans not fitting. Follow my basic style guide for tips on how to find the perfect fitting jean every time and avoid a dip in your self-esteem.
Know the Brand
The brand of jeans you are shopping for can make all the difference in how the jeans fit. Do a little research before you hit the mall to determine what brands may be best for you. For example, some brands, like teen marketed brands such as American Eagle, tend to run much smaller than department store jeans. Check the range of sizes that a particular store carriers. If you’re looking for plus sizes, find stores that carry up to or above your own size. This can eliminate frustration of not finding jeans that suit your size needs.
Know the Lingo
There are some confusing terms that appear in jean sizing and styles that can make it even harder to know which fit will flatter you best. Here is a quick guide to some of those terms:
High Rise: Sits above your belly button or just below it
Mid-Rise: Sits right at or just above the natural waist
Low-Rise: Low rise jeans sit usually just under the natural waist
Ultra Low Rise: Sits generally far below natural waist or on hips
In addition to terms about fit, there are terms about leg opening:
Jegging: Very tight through hip all the way to the ankle, fits like a legging
Skinny: Can be either relaxed or tight in the hips, skinny at the ankle
Boot Cut: The most flattering fit. Slightly fitted in hip and thigh. A wider opening at the ankle
Flare: A very wide leg opening, usually tight in the hip and thigh and large at the ankle
Finally, some jeans are called Curvy/Relaxed fit or Straight fit. Curvy jeans are relaxed in the seat and thigh, while straight fit jeans are tighter in the hip and thigh, with a looser knee.
Know Your Body
Knowing your body shape is critical in finding the perfect fitting jean. Stand in front of a mirror and look at your hip-to-waist ratio. Is your waist much smaller than your hips? Is it much bigger? No difference at all? This is important to determining your body shape. Women with a smaller waist than hip would be considered pear or hourglass shapes. Women with bigger waists than hip are often called apple shaped, and women with no difference between hip and waist are often called rectangle shapes.
Pear/Hour Glass Shapes: Curvy fit jeans are your best friend, as they allow for extra room in the hip, thigh and seat. You also will want to opt for a high to mid-rise, as this gives maximum coverage in the back. Boot cut and flare styles are particularly flattering on these body types.
Apple Shapes: Many apple shaped women prefer lower rise jeans that don’t cut into the tummy area and don’t sag in the seat or thigh. These can be a very flattering fit for any age, so don’t let the low rise scare you away! Bootcut or straight leg are the most flattering.
Rectangle Shapes: Rectangle shapes will want to opt for jeans that are more straight in the hip and thigh, so avoid curvy fit jeans. Rise for you is best with low rise, but mid rise can be flattering too. Any leg opening, but particularly skinny, look good on rectangle shapes.
It is also important to know how height can determine what is most flattering. Taller women look great in jeggings and skinny jeans, as they draw the eye down the leg. Women of average height look great in boot cut and skinny styles, too. Shorter women should avoid flare leg jeans, as they tend to overwhelm a small frame, but look great in skinnies and boot cut jeans.
Know The Details
Jeans come in a variety of wash, or color, types. Typically, darker denim or black denim is the most flattering wash on most bodies. Light denim works great for women with smaller hips and thighs, but can accentuate this in curvier women. Look for jeans with wash details, like lightening in color or distressing, that fall across the middle of the leg for the most flattering look.
Plain pockets work best for girls who don’t want to draw attention to their rear. But women who want to add curve and bulk to their rear should look for styles with more detailing on the pocket.
Try it On
Though trying clothes on is not the most fun experience, it is crucial in determining whether or not a jean fits you. Across three different brands, you could wear a size 10, 12, or 14. One tip can be to bring two or three sizes of each style with you to the fitting room. Clothing sizes for women are not standardized so each brand sets a guideline for what they want each size to represent. Try and remember that that number on the tag does not determine your beauty or worth. Its just a number!
Ask someone who works at the store to bring you additional styles and ask for advice if you are struggling. They can help you evaluate why a jean isn’t fitting and make recommendations for you on the spot. They may have some ideas that you hadn’t considered before that will make you look fantastic.
Arming yourself with knowledge of what sizes a store offers, the language of the industry, and your own body type can help you shop for jeans with ease. Think of it like a math formula. Pair your body type plus a leg opening and you can be assured that jean will look amazing on you day in and day out.