Updated: May 3, 2021
Denim. We love it in all forms. Jeans to jackets to dresses, the indigo-and-white twill fabric often dominates Western closets. Denim origins can be traced back to India, but denim as we know it was created in France, and the jeans craze began to popularize the world as early as the 1870s.
And as much as we all love denim, finding the perfect jeans can be a tough job. Here are some tips the next time you’re looking for your new favorite pair of jeans.
1. Know your measurements.
Many women’s jeans are sized based on even numbers, but some use waist measurements instead. Knowing your waist, hip, and inseam measurements can help you find the right size - especially when shopping online.
2. Fix a gapping waist You may want to look for curvy style jeans if you have a significant difference between your waist and hip measurements or if you experience a gap at the waist when jeans otherwise fit. Sometimes, gapping is just due to the style or the design.
3. Know the number on the label is arbitrary
Sizes are different for each brand, and sometimes even within a brand. You might be an eight, but go down to a six, or up to a twelve, depending on the brand and style. The size of the jeans isn’t important – how you feel in them is what matters.
4. Find silhouettes you like the look and feel of
Skinny jeans might feel too tight, straight-leg jeans might be too wide-legged for you, and vintage styles might be too tight or loose on your hips and thighs. You’ll find styles and silhouettes that you repeatedly choose. Knowing what styles you like is a great starting point. Find brands that are known for making those styles.
5. How much denim do you like in your jeans?
Jeans are normally 100% cotton, but curvy or body-hugging styles will have some spandex or other elastic mixed in. Different cotton-to-stretchiness ratios cause different shrinkage rates, stretch, and textures. Look at the fiber content of your favorite jeans and keep it in mind next time you shop.
6. What kind of rise do you like?
High rise? Low rise? Mid rise? You might want a high rise to make your legs look longer, or a low rise to make your torso look longer. If you experience a gap at the back of the waist, you can try fixing it with a different rise.
7. Know your inseam
You may have a little more flexibility in this category because some designers will offer a choice of inseam lengths for each style, often in 2-inch increments. The most popular lengths are 28”, 30”, and 32”. This is largely preference-based and depends on if you want cropped, regular, or cuffed jeans.
8. Petite, Regular, or Tall? If you’re 5’3” or shorter you may want to consider petite sizes. If you’re 5’8” or taller you may want to consider tall sizes. These numbers are flexible, just like with sizes. You could be 5’4” and prefer petite fits, or 5’7” and like the look of tall styles.
Boyfriend? Skinny? Straight? Tapered? Wide leg? Boot cut? Flare?
Cropped? Cuffed? Distressed? Raw hem? Real pockets? Decorative studs?
There are hundreds of combinations of styles, cuts, and features. Look at the jeans you already love and see what they have in common.
There’s a lot of flexibility in color choice. Different washes are available in most cuts. The classic blue jean can range in color from deep, nearly-black blue to a bleached almost-white look. Colored denim has fewer choices and it’s generally harder to find the perfect fit.