Blue jeans. We all love and wear them, but most of don’t actually know how to find the right pair for our body types, and are therefore walking around in the wrong size. “It’s tough to find the right pair of jeans because there’s so much to choose from, and walking into a store can be pretty daunting,” says Joel Carman, owner of Toronto denim landmark Over the Rainbow in Yorkville. As he points out, the right pair of jeans “really impacts how you look.”
To help navigate the vast and diverse world of blue jeans, we asked Carman to share his expert shopping tips on selecting the right pair of jeans for every body type—from cut to wash to the alterations that make them uniquely yours.
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #1: Decide what you’re looking for
Grab a buddy—for moral support and because friends don’t let friends shop alone—and make an afternoon of your blue jean-buying ordeal. Before walking into a store, do your research: find a place staffed with knowledgeable salespeople who can customize your shopping experience.
But don’t be overwhelmed by a floor-to-ceiling wall of denim: this gives you options. “We’ll narrow [the selection] down to colour, to fit, to what the customer wants to wear it for,” says Carman. “What’s the occasion? Do you want it for daytime use, just hanging around, or do you want to wear it at night with a pair of heels?” More good news: “There are so many beautiful styles and things have changed so much that I think [denim shopping] is really exciting for women.”
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #2: Choose your wash
Decide between dark or light blue jeans. “Light is daytime denim,” Carman says about sun-bleached and faded styles. “But I think if you want a lot of versatility in the denim, you would want to go darker. Darker denim you can dress up or dress down.” Also, darker washes are also naturally slimming (it’s why we love LBDs) while a lighter fade will accentuate size. “The darker the denim, the trimmer you look.”
For more shopping tips on selecting the right pair of blue jeans for your body type, read on to the next page… How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #3: High rise or low?
Mercifully, the low-rise cut denim is no longer the norm it was just five years ago. “Women want to be a little more secure, they want to be able to move around, bend down without exposing themselves, and still look great,” explains Carman. Higher back and front rises work miraculously for this.
“Rise is a really a key issue, so depending on how long or short your body is, you have to have the right-sized jean.” Carman cites Canadian denim brand Fidelity, whose skinny jean comes in both an eight-inch and nine-inch rise, which is tailored to the body type of the wearer. “The shorter girl needs a high rise,” says Carman about maintaining the illusion of an elongated, streamlined silhouette. “They have constructed ladies’ jeans so that the waists come in to fit properly, so you’re not going to have gaping in the waistband any longer.”
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #4: Get the right fit—really
A common misconception about denim shopping is that buying a bigger pair will be able to hide your shape completely. Simply put, the smaller the jean that you have on, the trimmer you look. And the reverse is true: a larger pair of denim will make your body appear bigger.
Opt for the tighter side of tolerance, Carman advises. “The general rule of denim is that, in the way that jeans are processed, they don’t shrink a lot— unless you’re buying a really raw jean,” he says. “So you want to buy the jean to fit.” Many women shy away from curve-hugging denim and end up with a pair that’s too loose to begin with, which will then stretch and become baggy overtime. “And it doesn’t flatter them,” he says.
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #5: Keep your profile
“I think in every body type, what we’re always trying to do is accentuate length because women are very conscious of their hips, their waists,” says Carman. “And what we want to do is take the emphasis off that and give them a really long, narrow profile.”
While skinny jeans (those with a 10-inch opening at the bottom) have been around for while, the sexy flare is back in 12 and 14-inch openings—just enough to fit over a heel or wedge. “It really accentuates your height. And the longer the leg looks, the longer you look, the thinner you look,” he says.
Size logic: a taller woman would want a trim-fit jean, whereas petite women should look for a fit that’s as narrow as possible with a slight opening on the bottom, depending on the occasion. Curvier girls need a jean that fits in the thigh—anything baggy that droops will simply add bulk.
Read on for more expert fit tips when denim shopping…
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #6: Consider pocket placement
When you’re trying on a pair of jeans, make sure that the back pockets and the yoke—the V-shaped section just above them—aren’t too low. “It’s going to make your butt look saggy,” warns Carman. Look for a higher pocket in a medium size (or smaller for petite frames).
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #7: Alter to fit
If you’re making the investment in premium, high-quality jeans, don’t be afraid of making alterations to get the perfect fit. “People say ‘I don’t have to shorten, I’ll just roll them up,’ but if you want a nice pair of crisp jeans to wear at night, they should be tailored,” says Carman. “Cuffs are good for boyfriend jeans and a casual look for summer, but when it comes to really getting dressed up, they should be the right length, not long and sloppy.”
Waistbands can be both taken in and let out, depending on the girl. “People will always say, ‘Well, they’re only blue jeans’, but you wear your blue jeans more than your dress clothing and people see you in them more, so that’s when you should be looking your best. And that’s when you should have the best fits,” he says.
How to find the right pair of jeans expert tip #8: Buy, wash, repeat
As beautiful and perfect-fitting as your jeans are today, they’re not going to last forever. “People’s expectations of blue jeans are very high, because a blue jean is meant to be durable,” Carman says. “But when you wear them everyday, and the way you wear them, and how comfortable you feel in them, sometimes they don’t wear quite as long as you think they should.”
And the process to get the stonewash, faded and ripped jeans you love so much takes wear out of denim, reducing its lifespan (raw denim will last longer because it hasn’t been processed). “Blue jeans change all the time and that’s what we like about them: they fade, they become different, they mold to your body,” Carman says. “It’s a whole different experience wearing a pair of blue jeans than it is wearing just about any other garment.”
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