The Best Jeans for Your Body Type
Unless you look like Kate Moss, finding the perfect pair of jeans is an on-going, notoriously difficult task, rivaled only by swimsuit shopping. Once you find that perfect pair, you cling to them for dear life. I've even bought duplicates so that once one wears out, I have a backup.
With the huge variety that is available these days, it's no wonder there are sales people, personal shoppers and entire stores to help out with finding the perfect pair of jeans. Some ladies need stretch, others need length, while others need durability. In this post, I'll dive into some of the most common fit problems.
First I'm going to go through a few general rules. Most of what women want is to slim something, so here are some basic tips that help in any case. If you listen to nothing else, hear this: BUY THE CORRECT SIZE. If you're standing up with a relaxed posture and anything is bulging, squeezing or hanging over anything else, go up in size. It's much better to wear a size 10 and look like an 8 than wear a 6 and look like a 10.
In addition to that, there are a few basic strategies to slimming; balance and lengthening. The eye automatically goes to the widest part of the body, so if something is wider than you'd like, make something else wide too. It sounds counter-productive, but it's not, it's balance. If you wear a jacket with big shoulder pads and have slim legs and tiny hips you'll get a Frankenstein effect. The reason that flare leg jeans make your legs look longer is because typically women's thighs are larger than their calves, so the wide leg below the knee balances the thighs. If you'd like to slim down a specific area like your tummy, put the darker color there and wear a lighter pair of jeans, or do the opposite to slim thighs or hips. Cut outs and color blocking are very fun to try this with. You can also do a monotone look, wearing shades of the same color from head to toe, which will lengthen your body. Try using your hair, skin color or shoes as part of this scheme. If you're blonde for example, try shades of cream and for dark hair or skin, go with navy, black or charcoal. Remember when everyone put "bumps" in their hair? It was because that added height had a slimming effect on your face. You can apply that rationale to your body as well. For shoes, if you're showing ankle, pick a pointy toed nude shoe as it extends the bottom part of your leg to the ground. The less contrast and the more balanced your shape is, the longer and slimmer everything will look.
All of that being said, I want to stress that I don't think any woman's body needs to be anything other than what it currently is to be beautiful. You shouldn't need your waist to look smaller or your thighs to look slimmer in order to feel good about yourself. However, I know what a well fitting pair of jeans can do to a women's confidence, and I know how much shit there is in today's society that prioritizes a woman's measurements and clothing size over her mind and heart, which is probably why there's such a demand for articles like this. My goal is solely to help women find a well-fitting pair of jeans by minimizing the things that they don't like about themselves so they instead can focus on what they love about their own bodies. If you love it about yourself, you should rock it 24/7.
Since I'm living in Grand Rapids, MI, where everyday is a casual day, some of my readers have requested more information on how and where to find jeans that both fit and look stylish, so I hope this is helpful to you ladies. Check out these other jeans posts to keep up on current trends; White Jeans in Winter and Frayed Jeans 3 Ways, and of course, stay tuned during Style Logic's Denim Week for more posts about all things denim! Grand Rapidians, be sure to stop by Denym and take a look at our photoshoot we did there last week for the blog.
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Balancing Curvy Hips or a J.Lo Butt
First of all, props to you ladies! The hips, butt and legs are the healthiest "fat" storage areas since they're the farthest from the heart (as opposed to tummy and upper body fat). I have no experience in this myself, being Korean, I'm not even sure what having hips looks like... However, living in GR, with all of you lovely Dutch ladies with your flowing, natural blonde hair, your 5'7" average height and your tiny waists, I have more than a few friends who have expressed concern over their hips.
You'll want to avoid high waisted tapered jeans. If you love your skinnies, pair them with a clunky block heel or some nice Frye knee-high boots to even out the proportions and draw attention downward. You'll want to avoid flared or trapeze tops too as those will emphasize the width of your hips. Belting or cinching at your natural waist (higher than most pants) combined with a wide/flared leg will lengthen your legs, therefore slimming your hips. Wide and straight leg leans will also help by creating the illusion of a straight line. Some companies like Silver Jeans and Levi's have tools on their websites to help you find a better fit if you're curvy in the hip area.
Creating a Waist and Hiding a Tummy
Unlike wide hips, a wide waist is something I am all too familiar with. My hips are only about 4 or 5 inches wider than my waist, unlike most women's who are up to a foot wider. If this sounds like you, try adding detailing somewhere other than your tummy area, like lace up flares or statement destructed jeans.
If you store your fat in your tummy, welcome to my world - it sucks big time, but there's hope for us, which is good since this seems to be a problem area for a ton of women. Avoid low cut jeans like the plague since they'll easily give you muffin-top. Higher waists are also a bit dangerous because they can create the infamous FUPA (sorry, it's vulgar, so if you don't know what it is, google it, or just trust me - you don't want one). I've had the best luck with mid-rise jeans in a baby flare or bootcut and a chunky heel. Avoid anything that has detailing at the waist such as ties or laces. Boyfriend jeans are nice as well since their style tends to draw eyes downward towards the legs and slim the waist and hip area.
For the athletic builds (generally straight up and down) and really skinny women, if you're reading this section, you're probably looking to add some, shall we say, va-va-voom to your figure. By adding volume above and below your waist, you'll create more of an hourglass figure. White jeans and light blue washes should be your go-to. They add a bit of volume to your bottom half, which creates curves. Pairing them with a crop top in a similar color will create the illusion of a more indented waist. Anything tight, tapered or high waisted will be your best friend. Boyfriend jeans will probably fit you like a dream since they're one of the only jean cuts that are made for your body type, but will definitely NOT add curves, so if you go this route, opt for the "slim" boyfriend cuts.
If you have a flat or non-existent butt, go for tighter fits with any kind of embellishment, decorative stitching, flap pockets, etc. that you can find. Avoid loose boyfriend and wide leg jeans as they tend to flatten butts. Another trick is to find a pair with just the right type of fading with the butt part is a lighter shade. Prints will also add volume.
Step 1: find a great tailor or learn how to hem pants. Step 2: thank your mother for being the only mom on the street for not feeding her kids boat loads of growth hormones...just kidding. I'm only 5 ft tall, so nobody knows your struggle like I do. The number of women who don't know their own inseam measurement astounds me. If you're short like me, you're probably wondering, "well, how do they buy pants?" If the jeans label doesn't carry a petite or short length, or sizes by waist and inseam, there isn't a chance in hall I can wear them unless I hit up the tailor or my sewing machine first.
Crops and ankle length jeans will work depending on your choice of shoes. Nude and heeled should be your go-to leg lengthening weapon if your ankles are exposed in either a sandal that shows a lot of skin or pointed pumps. This basically just extends the part of your leg near your ankle to give the illusion of longer legs. Kick flares are a weird exception to everything because the flare will lengthen the top 3/4 of your legs, but the crop will shorten them. Probably the worst cut of jeans you could buy are gaucho's (wide leg crops). Wide legs have a tendency to shorten and thicken your bottom half, and crops cut off your leg length where they end. High waisted jeans will help immensely with lengthening, but be careful with that if you've got a little more to love around the middle.
As always, for the illusion of longer legs, repeat after me: flared leg, flared leg, flared leg.
Stocky or Thick Legs
To give the impression of slimmer legs, keep the cuts loose. The worst thing you can do is put on super tight skinny jeans that just draw attention to the thickness of your legs. If you have thick thighs but tiny calves, opt for tapered boyfriend or girlfriend jeans. If you have thin thighs and muscular calves, try a kick flare (cropped flare) or baby boot (slim with a mini-flare closer to the bottom leg opening).
If you have curvier thighs and you're lucky enough to be like me and have your thighs rub together all the time, make sure to pick a sturdier, thicker material. Thin denim is not your friend in this case, trust me. This is always the first place I get holes in my jeans, so I keep a supply of those iron-on denim patches you can buy at craft stores to fix this problem so that every time i happens I don't have to drop another hundred bucks or so on a new pair of jeans. In my experience, the quality does actually go up with price of jeans, so invest in a good pair.
One of my leg slimming strategies is to buy jeans about a size up. If you do this though be careful and anticipate what that fit will look like when it's looser. For example, don't go buy a pair of stretchy skinny jeans two sizes up and think they will just look like straight leg jeans because they won't. Boyfriend jeans, trouser cuts and wide legs (don't buy size up in these) will hide how thick your legs are in the same way a trapeze dress hides a big tummy. Wide legs with a little flare to them (basically trousers) are perfect because they give the impression of slimmer legs and the flare will lengthen them.
Weight Gain/Loss or Pregnancy
I wanted to add a special section for those women who have recently had or plan to have a significant weight change, pregnancy or birth. Clothes cost enough money as it is, so here are some ways to not break the bank just to keep yourself stylishly covered up. Look for elastic waist or maternity jeans with a lot of stretch in them. Some companies carry jeans with inset panels that stretch with your belly or hips. Also, look for jeans that you can wear with practical shoes. With weight shifts come changes in shoe size and foot comfort. If you're in your first trimester and you think you're going to be able to keep wearing those 5 inch platforms, think again. To avoid having to buy another pair each time you shift weight, buy versatile styles. Stay away from anything particularly trendy. Don't invest in an expensive pair of destructed boyfriend jeans if you can't wear them to your full time job. If you're just entering maternity sizes, don't invest in cutoff shorts if you live in the midwest and it's the end of September. Just be practical and realistic.
So what is worth investing your hard earned money in if you're going to be changing sizes? I'd invest in two decent, but not luxury, pair of mid-rise jeans, one in a medium light wash and one in a medium dark wash. I'd try to stay under $100 and get whatever fit is most flattering and comfortable to you. Brands like Asos, Gap, Topshop and Old Navy all carry maternity sizes and have sales ALL. THE. TIME. Buy what you need to get by and don't invest any significant money until you are the size you plan to stay for a while.
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