How many pairs of jeans do you own? Probably a bunch. How many do you actually like and wear? Probably only a few! Good jeans sure can be hard to find. I’ve been on a lifelong quest for the perfect pair!
It all started when I was growing up in the 80′s and 90′s. Designer jeans were all the rage. Every young girl was dreaming of her own pair of Guess, Jordache,or Calvins. (Seriously, who didn’t want to be Brooke Shields?) Back then, it was more about logo than substance, but we didn’t care. I got my first designer jeans when I was 8, courtesy of Lord & Taylor.
Sometime around the year 2000, the jean market started to shift. It became less celebrity-based, with a focus on fit and function. Happily, prices have dropped, too, and there is a huge range of options for all budgets.
When buying jeans we need to take 4 areas into account: fit, length, rinse, and rise. (For additional details, check out my guide to pants, where I discuss this in depth.)
Fit: Jeans should be purchased snug. Not skin tight, but snug, because they do stretch over time. When you try them on, sit and walk in them. Get a feel for the fabric on your body. If they’re not comfortable when you try them on, don’t buy! You may have to try numerous sizes and brands before you find the right pair. When you do find them, I recommend buying extra.
Rinse: The rinse refers to the color, as in light rinse or dark. The lighter the rinse, the heavier you will look and vice versa. The only exception to this rule is white jeans. Dark rinse jeans should be washed inside-out, preferably in cold water and air dried.
Length: Good jeans come in every inseam, but it’s always hardest to find the right pair of Petite or Tall. I am a Petite and I’ve had good luck with jeans from Old Navy and Banana Republic. (Check out their Factory Store for the same styles at cheaper prices!) For Tall ladies, I’ve heard raves about Gap’s Long and Lean jeans.
Rise: A mid-rise jean will be the most flattering. Avoid the extremes of high and low-rise. Too high looks frumpy and too low is an accident waiting to happen!
The most flattering pair is a straight leg with a dark rinse. Sometimes they’re also called Trouser Jeans. They are slimming and reasonably comfortable. Every single body type looks good in these, especially Plus Size!
The least flattering is a high-waist, large pocket jean, evidenced by this god-awful picture of Jessica Simpson. Notice how the proportions look off; everything is magnified and she seems much larger than she actually was at the time. As if these jeans weren’t bad enough, she paired them with one of my biggest accessory no-no’s—an animal print belt.
* Boot Cut – I have a pair of Old Navy Diva Boot Cut jeans that I bought on clearance for $1.47 at an after-holiday sale. They’re one of my favorites and get plenty of use. Boot Cut is good for most, except those that have very thick legs, because Boot Cut is slim in the thigh.
*Boyfriend - These are the most comfortable pair of jeans, ever. Because they tend to be loose and slouchy, this is not a dress-up jean and should be reserved for casual occasions—errands, travel, lounging, etc. Reese Witherspoon is photographed in boyfriend jeans a lot and always looks cute.
* Skinnies - Skinnies can be adorable when done the right way. Yes, this is a super-snug fit, but that doesn’t mean straight jacket. You should still be able to move and breathe! Balance skinnies with a long top, that’s preferably loose-fitting. Don’t ever wear skinnies with a tank top, halter top, or tight sweater unless you want to be Paris Hilton’s Double Mint twin.
* White - My favorite bottom to wear in the summer, especially when paired with a black top! If you’re hesitant to try white bottoms, jeans will be easier than pants. They’re thicker and less see-through, so it’s not as scary. The only white jeans I avoid are skinnies. That’s way more attention than I can handle….
Jeans to avoid include:
* Whiskers – This refers to fade lines that run across the hips and crotch. Whiskers tend to highlight the widest part of the leg, which most ladies are trying to avoid.
* Lewd – I’m not sure what this monstrosity is trying to accomplish…all I can say is don’t go there. This reminds me of a ’90′s reject, wearing super-low jeans with a thong peeking out. Sisqo isn’t calling; give it up!
* Large Rear Pockets - Rear pocket placement must be taken into account. Small and/or angled pockets will make your behind look much better. Stay away from large, flap pockets, especially those with rivets or buttons. Embroidery and embellishment should also be avoided.
* Acid Wash - I was surprised to see these featured in the August edition of People StyleWatch. According to model Kate Upton, “They’re coming back, which is fun.” No, it’s horrifying! They were bad in the 80′s, they’re bad now, and they forever will be.
What’s your favorite style of jeans?