Of all the bottoms on the market, jeans are probably the most complicated to buy. Very few other pants offer so many choices in fit. Buying a single pair of jeans requires you to make a myriad of choices. Do you want a slim fit to loose fit like a boyfriend jean? Do you want a low, medium, high rise or the ultra high “mom jean?” What inseam length do you need? Do you want a skinny, straight or bootcut? Do you want an ankle jean, petite or regular? Do you want a light, medium or dark wash? And on and on….
Honestly, it reminds me of ordering coffee at Starbucks….”Can I please have a grande, vanilla, almond milk latte or would it be a grande, almond milk latte with a shot of vanilla? It gives me anxiety. I’ve seen customers get equally flummoxed at trying to tell me what they want in a jean, and I don’t blame them.
In this blog post, I will try to demystify jean buying and help walk you through making the best jean choice for your body.
- Let’s talk fit…Right now, jeans can be purchased in a variety of fits from slim fits that hug the body like a legging to looser fits that look like you are wearing your fella’s jeans. There are also wide legged, high waisted varieties that look like they stepped right out of the seventies. Choosing a fit is about your desired level of trendiness and your body shape. The trendiest jeans styles this season are slim legged ankle jeans, loose fitting and beat up boyfriend jeans, and wide legged culottes. If you are shorter, I would avoid the wider legged styles, as they are trickier to wear and can have a tendency to make shorter people look dumpy. If you have thicker legs, you may want to choose straight leg or wide leg styles with a little more room in the thigh and calf to avoid looking poured into your jeans. Boyfriend jeans work on anyone, but do take some know how in pairing them with tops and shoes. If you want a middle of the road fit, I recommend choosing a straight leg style with a slimmer fitting leg. This is a great look that keeps your jean trendy without requiring a lot of thought on how to wear it.
- So many rises….trendier jeans right now are high waisted, even higher than you would probably think of as a high rise jean. Generally, if you just want a great fitting jean, a regular rise is your best bet. These jeans will come just over your belly button and should fit right around the smallest part of your waist. Regular rise jeans are the most flattering because the high rise helps to hold in extra pounds around your middle. Lower rises that sit an inch below your belly button or lower don’t do much for helping your figure. Ultra high rises take some know how to pull them off, like a cropped top, as an example. Whatever you choose, just be sure to sit down in any jean you try on before you purchase it to make sure it doesn’t roll or continually slide down. A sign you have chosen the right rise for your body is that you won’t have a large gap in the waist.
- How do I figure out what inseam I need…one of the trickiest parts of jean buying is the multitude of inseam lengths out there. A typical regular length jean has a 33 inch inseam. A petite jean will be more like 29 inches. A typical ankle jean will have a 27 inch inseam. To figure out your inseam or to measure a jean, just use a tape measure from the crotch of the jean to the hemline or from your groin to your ankle. Your inseam will depend largely on whether you are short or long waisted, but generally, women under 5’2 will need a petite jean and women over 5’5 can do a regular rise jean. For us poor devils, me included, who are in that 5’3-5’5 height range, we are just stuck with cuffing a jean that is too long or getting one hemmed. It’s a huge bummer, but the good news is that the ankle jean works quite well for us. If you are particularly long legged or near 6 feet, you are unfortunately going to have to find tall jeans, which can be a TALL order, he he.
- Let’s chat about leg opening…you can readily find skinny, straight and bootcut styles in pretty much any jean brand you choose. A skinny jean is usually about 5 inches across at the hemline. A straight leg style will be more like 7 inches across. And, a bootcut style will be somewhere around 8 inches, depending upon the brand. Generally, women who have thicker legs will prefer a bootcut style because it will offer a roomier leg and thigh. The other option is a boyfriend cut jean that is meant to fit loose. If you have thin legs, you will probably like how you look in a skinny jean because it will show off your great legs. If you are somewhere in the middle, or, as I mentioned previously, just want a good all around jean, you will probably gravitate to a straight leg jean. A lot of it also depends on foot wear. If you like to tuck your jeans into tall boots or cuff your jeans, as an example, a skinny jean is what you want. If you want to wear your jeans over sturdier shoes, a bootcut will be a better choice.
- It’s all about the wash…from vintage washes that are light to dark denim washes that almost look black, you can buy jeans in just about any shade of blue you want. Vintage washes tend to lend themselves to summer and lighter colored tops. They do look lovely paired up with cream sweaters in the winter, however. Dark denim washes are usually dressier and can be worn from casual to dressed up casual. Medium blue washes are considered “go to” washes in the industry because they go with everything. Fading along the front of the leg can make a thick thigh appear thinner. Whiskering and distressing are all a means of adding eye-catching details to the jean or making them look already worn. There are many ways to create these effects including chemical washes, sandblasting, scraping using ruler-sized files, grinding with actual stones, and lasers. Right now, these elements along with colored washes in everything from wine to mustard, make a jean trendier. The cleaner, un-embellished jean, on the other hand, can be worn for years to come. What you choose is all dependent upon what you want out of your jean.
- Look at me….the bottom of your jeans is pretty important right now. From fringed hemlines to embroidery and sequins, the hemlines of jeans are taking center stage. You will find clipped hems which are shorter in the front and left unhemmed, multiple layers of fringe, bows, ribbons, and just about anything else you can imagine gracing the bottoms of jeans. These details add to the jean’s uniqueness and are a fresh twist on that basic of most basic items that we all love to love…the jean.
Happy jean shopping! Don’t get flummoxed. Now you can talk jeans like a BOSS! And, if you want to hear me talk about this in person, just join me on my VIP Facebook group called Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas tonight at 6 p.m. Watch here: https://www.facebook.com/events/884895962279917