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No matter how many pairs of jeans I have in my closet, I always feel like I’m on the hunt for “the perfect pair.” Perfect jeans are the White Whale of the fashion world, I swear! And I know I’m not the only one struggling, as I get questions about how to look good in jeans and find the most flattering denim styles all the time. Anyone else ever had a breakdown in the fitting room when a pair of jeans you thought would look amazing ended up looking, um, amazingly terrible? My hand is raised.
That said, finding the right jeans doesn’t have to be a major challenge. All you have to do is pay attention! From sizing to silhouette to length, to smaller aesthetic details like distressing and wash—these all affect how jeans look on your body, and if you can pinpoint exactly what you like in advance, you won’t have to waste time trying pairs that are inevitable Nos. Of course, you’re bound to endure some trial and error, and your perfect denim might only truly be achieved after a trip to the tailor, but hey, it’ll be worth it to say you’ve finally found “the perfect pair,” am I right?
Your jeans probably get more airplay than any other item in your closet, which is why it’s so crucial to pick a pair that truly flatters you—and more importantly, that you feel great in. Keep the following tips in mind the next time you go shopping for a denim, and see if you don’t emerge with your new fave jeans.
1. Find Your Rise
Regardless of what’s trendy, figure out what waistline makes you feel your best. Are you a low-rise gal, a happy medium mid-riser, or totally obsessed with vintage-looking high-waisted picks. It’s up to you, but know this—the most universally flattering waistline is a mid-rise. Low-rise jeans can put pressure against your tummy, while high-waist pairs can make your midsection seem broader thanks to all that fabric. Viva la mid-rise!
The Lucky Brand Mid-Rise Crop Wide Leg Jean has a comfortable, laid-back mid-rise waistline. You can dress these up with chunky heels and a silk cami or down with kicks and a white tee.
2. Select A Silhouette
There are so many different options when it comes to jeans, from baggy boyfriend fits to rockstar skinnies to retro wide-leg flares. The best advice? Don’t limit yourself into thinking you can only wear one style. Grab the biggest dressing room in the store and go through all your options until you find the fit that makes you happiest. Then, stock up on that or find another fave to love, too.
3. Pay Attention To Specifics
How your jeans fit isn’t all about the size—it’s about the way they’re cut, too. Brands like American Eagle and Madewell now have Curvy Fit denim especially designed to flatter wider hips and thighs, while plenty of brands offer the same pairs of denim in regular, petite and tall options.
The AE Stretch Curvy Mom Jean is designed with more room through the hip and thigh for a comfortable and flattering fit.
4. Be Picky About Pockets
If you want to downplay your butt, avoid back pockets with a flap, buttons, studs or embroidery, all of which beef up your bottom—keep ‘em simple and streamlined instead. On the other hand, backside embellishments are a great option if you’re looking to fake a bootylicious bum.
5. Stretch Stretch, Baby
Jeans do not have to feel restricting, y’all! Find a pair with a little (or a lot) of stretch and wonder why you even bother wearing sweats when denim feels just as good. Choose jeans that are blended with lycra, elastane, polyurethane, or spandex, rather than 100 percent cotton.
That said, pay attention to sizing when buying super-stretchy jeans. If they fit like a glove when you first put them on, but have a ton of stretch, it’s possible they’ll get looser and looser throughout the day. If one size smaller works, you’re better off sizing down to avoid bagginess in the long run.
Warp+Weft jeans are all under $100, come in sizes 00-24 and are some of the comfiest denim in the game. The JFK Plus Skinny Jeans might look restrictive, but their stretch level will surprise you.
6. Don’t Freak Out Over Sizing
Are you a size 27 in one brand and an eight in another? Don’t get too wrapped up in the numbers, babe, especially when they’re on two totally different sizing scales. When trying on denim in-store, grab the size you think you’ll be, plus one smaller or larger depending on the jeans themselves. Focus on the fit, not the number. You’re the only one who sees the tags!
7. Focus On Fade
Be strategic about the wash of your denim. Jeans that are lighter in the center of the leg give the illusion of a long, slender figure. That said, avoid pairs with fading only on the butts or thighs if you’re looking for a slimming effect—they act like a spotlight.
The 7 For All Mankind b(air) Tailorless Iconic Bootcut Jeans have the perfect amount of lightness on the leg for that super-elongated look.
8. Take ‘Em To A Tailor
Real talk, not all jeans will fit you perfectly, but if you fall in love with a pair that doesn’t completely hit the mark, it doesn’t have to be a no-go. Make your local tailor your BFF and don’t be afraid to have your denim altered. All the celebs do it! Why settle for a gaping waistband or pantlegs that are a little too long when you can customize your fit?
9. Damsel In Distress
Edgy ripped jeans? Grungy and cool. Denim so shredded it looks like you just fought your way out of a zombie apocalypse? Not so much. Of course, your preferred level of distressing is all up to you, but don’t get too carried away with a trendy detail. Distressing adds interest, but keep the rips and shreds within reason.
The Levi’s 721 High Rise Skinny Jeans have the perfect amount of rippage, proving sometimes, less is more.
10. Step It Up
If you feel like your legs look short in jeans, first of all, they don’t. Stop being so hard on yourself, you look bomb! That said, if you want a legs-for-days look, slip on heels or heeled booties to visually elongate your lower half When you’re wearing heels, you automatically engage your calf, thigh, and butt muscles to help maintain your balance. The result? Everything looks tighter and firmer.
11. Ignore The Trends
Right now, high-waisted mom jeans are everything, but at any moment, skinny jeans could make the ultimate comeback. It’s fun to try out new trends and play with your style, but don’t feel like you have to lean into every single of-the-moment look if you don’t actually like the vibes. Wear the jeans you love and feel good in, trends be damned.
That said, if you are into standout, trendy looks, don’t pass them up on my account! Statement denim like these Rag & Bone/JEAN Patchwork Denim Jeans certainly has a time and place.
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