Why Fashion Insiders Swear By Tailoring Their Jeans

Leah Bourne
model off duty Why Fashion Insiders Swear By Tailoring Their Jeans

Photo: Phil Oh/Street Peeper

You’ve probably spent your entire adult life searching for that perfect pair of jeans—not too long, not too short, hugs certain body parts in all the right places—but they’re pretty much an enigma for average-sized women. The solution? A tailor.

Most women wouldn’t give a second thought to altering a cocktail dress or a suit jacket, but jeans usually don’t get the same treatment—despite the fact that most of us quite literally live in our denim.

MORE: 12 Denim Tips Every Girl Should Know

No surprise, celebrities are huge fans of getting their jeans tailored for the perfect fit. Kim Kardashian has spoken about getting her jeans tailored, so has Jennifer Aniston. Quite a few fashion editors also attest to being fans of Forever 21 denim then getting them altered (something that would cost far less than buying a pair of designer jeans).

It’s a styling trick that doesn’t cost much (changing the hem of jeans will run you around $10, while bigger fixes at most tailors will be under $50.) That means—using an inexpensive pair—you could end up with perfect jeans for a quarter of the price of designer denim.

Here, some tips and tricks to keep in mind when buying and tailoring jeans.

1. What to keep in mind when buying jeans. 

A great tailor can fix a lot when it comes to jeans—but not everything. The rise (where the waistband sits on your body), the hips, and the crotch, are three areas that are difficult for a tailor to nip and tuck, so keep that in mind when you’e shopping.

2. Before you take your jeans to the tailor, wash them. 

Before you take your jeans to a tailor, wash them a few times—first turning them inside, then washing them in cold water, then letting them hang dry. You want to make sure that your jeans aren’t going to shrink dramatically after you’ve gone to the trouble of taking them to the tailor.

3. Bring shoes with you to the tailor.

Particularly if you want to shorten your jeans, you are going to want to bring the shoes you most plan to wear with them to the tailor to help the tailor mark the jeans at the right length.

4. Altering the length is a cinch. 

One of the easiest fixes that a tailor can make to a pair of jeans is shortening the length. There are two ways they can do it. The first technique is known as an “original hem” or a “European hem.” The tailor will remove the original hem of the jeans, and then re-attach it after cutting off excess fabric. While this will cost you a bit more, it will also mean that the hem of your jeans will end up looking as it did when you bought them in the store.

The other technique is that you can ask your tailor to do an “inside hem” which involves folding in the extra fabric and stitching it in place. Generally, a few things to keep in mind when changing the length of your jeans: If you’re shortening them by more than two inches, you might end up changing the leg shape of the jeans. Also, if you’re tailoring jeans that are faded or distressed, you want to make sure that cutting the length won’t dramatically change the look.

5.  Another easy fix: Slimming the legs of jeans. 

If you find that the thighs of your jeans are a bit too baggy, or you have a pair of straight leg jeans that you want to turn into a pair of skinny jeans, never fear, slimming the legs of jeans is a pretty easy fix for a tailor, who will pin along the inseam, turn your jeans inside out, and either cut excess fabric, or sew in that excess fabric inside the jeans.

Keep in mind, if you plan on taking in the calves of your jeans, the bottom of your jeans might also need to be re-hemmed.

6.  Nip in the waist for the perfect fit. 

One of the biggest complaints of women when it comes to jeans is that the waist is ill-fitting (and ends up gaping). A good tailor can alter the waistband of your jeans to nip it in a bit (we can’t tell you what a big difference this can make, especially for curvy women). Keep in mind, you don’t want to take your jeans in by more than 1.5 inches at the waist, or you could potentially change the shape of your jeans, and how the pockets are positioned.

MORE: 101 Fashion Tips and Tricks Every Girl Should Know