You love 'em and need 'em, but do you look fabulous in 'em? The perfect-looking pair of jeans is a benchmark of your personal style '- so how do you find just the right fit and wash for a price you can live with?
When shopping for jeans, begin with comfort and try on lots of different styles, says Scott Formby, a creative director at Lucky Jeans. First and foremost, he advises, whether you're skinny, shapely or somewhere in between, jeans should be so comfortable you hardly know you're wearing them. Secondly, find jeans that look and feel right for you. "Jeans are not like a basic V-neck sweater or a simple blouse," he says. "They're a personal thing and become a part of you, and that's the beauty."
More tips from Formby:
- Love how they feel. When you're sitting, jeans can look and feel completely different than when you're standing. If the waistband of your jeans sticks out at the tailbone or feels tight when you sit, try another size. "Jeans are as varied as the women who buy them," Formby says. "We have some customers who want to show their bellies and some who don't." Jeans fit everyone differently. A pair that bunches in the crotch-to-waist area on one type of body might look fine on another body type. (If you find styles that bunch, try a lower-rise jean, Formby suggests.)
- Know your fabrics. Higher-priced jeans are often more expensive because the denim comes from outside the U.S. All Mankind jeans, for example, use fabric from Japan and Italy. Jean fashionistas claim the weave of higher-priced denim is finer and more delicate looking yet still sturdy enough to hold a flare. In addition, the fade, or "wash," of the jeans affects the look and price of the garment. Pricier jeans are often hand processed, literally stone washed, one garment at a time. Washes are great, says Formby, because once you find a style you love, you can simply duplicate it in different washes, giving variety to your wardrobe: "You can have the same jean that fits great in five different washes '- everything from a cleaned, starched jean to a worn, faded look."
- Choose the right silhouette for your shape. When it comes to the way your jeans look on you, it's the cut that matters.
- Baggy jeans can make you look larger than you really are.
- Tapered jeans magnify the difference between the upper and lower leg, making thighs seem bigger.
- High-waisted jeans highlight the space between the waist and hips, making both seem wider
- Long jeans, with cuffs over your shoe, make your legs appear longer
- If you want to accentuate a rounded behind, stretch jeans will cover your curves nicely; if your backside is flat, however, stretch jeans make it flatter, so stick with regular denim (or buy stretch jeans in a larger size)
- Sometimes it pays to pay. Usually when you're buying jeans, the higher the price, the better the quality. The fabric may be a tighter weave, which makes it softer, and the more stitches on the seams, the higher the price. Rivets, wrinkles and hand-washing also up the price. Even so, is it ever justifiable to spend more than $100 on a pair of jeans? Yes, says Formby, because they will never go out of style. In addition, he says, "Good jeans age well, while the color and fit of a cheaper pair of jeans might not make it through the long haul." On the other hand, trendy jeans with features like embroidered patches or built-in belts might become unfashionable well before they wear out.
- The most flattering style, ever. A slightly flared leg or a boot cut, combined with a low-rise waist, is the most flattering and lengthening jean for most bodies. This look is fitted around the derriere; it enhances the length of the legs, and the flare balances the width of the thigh. Shop for jeans with a short center seam to give your body definition and separation. Even if you wear jeans on the loose or slightly baggy side, wear them fitted around your backside. And, if you find a jean you love that isn't perfect in one area, consider taking it to a good tailor.
- Pay attention to pockets. High little pockets in the back make a behind look bigger, so choose centered, larger pockets. In general, back pockets look better, but if you buy a pair with no pockets, choose a style with a yoke on the back, which will bring the eyes to the center. Front pockets should be on the shallow side, because extra fabric adds bulk. And then there are pockets cut and built to actually lift the butt. James Jeans calls its back pockets the "Wonderbra of the derriere."
Rules of thumb: