Saturday, June 6, 2009

Finding Your Perfect Pair of Jeans

With the possible exception of bathing suit shopping, I can think of nothing a woman hates more than trying to find a pair of jeans. Dozens of stores, and hundreds of pairs later she has achieved nothing more than lowering her self-esteem. I used to sell denim, and helped many women find their perfect pair of jeans. Here are my hints and secrets for buying jeans.

-Know your size before you go: Measure your waist and inseam. This helps provide a great starting point, and helps the sales people find some options for you. Plus there's nothing worse than thinking you're a certain size, and not being able to squeeze into that pair at all. There's plenty of variation between brands, but at least you'll be starting in the right area.

-Find the best cut for your body type: This will further narrow the selection of jeans you try.

Bootcut: Probably one of the most universally flattering cuts. The slight flare helps to balance out hips and thighs.

Flare: Similar to bootcut, but beware of really large bell-bottoms, as these can add weight and width to your legs.

Wide Leg: Loosely cut through the whole leg. Tend to have a "trouser" feel. Again avoid very wide cuts, as these can add weight, rather than hiding it.

Boyfriend: A really trendy cut right now, slightly looser fitting. This cut can be very forgiving, but avoid getting a really baggy pair, as these can make you look "frumpy".

Straight Leg: Avoid if you have larger hips or thighs. This can be a good option for someone who's a little narrower, but can't quite pull off the tapered skinny jean. Look for a pair that's a little looser in the knee area.

Skinny Jeans: Probably the most dangerous of all jeans. These will make your hips and thighs look larger, so you need to have practically none to begin with. As the name suggests, these are for skinny people. That being said, if you're tall and skinny these look fabulous and can make your legs look even smaller.

High Waist: This has come more and more into style in the last few years. Pairs well with a wider leg. Avoid tapered high waisted jeans (these are the infamous "mom jeans"). A higher rise can hit you at the narrowest part of the waist, making you look slimmer. And they can cinch in a "pooch", no "muffin tops" here.

Mid-Rise: The most popular rise in jeans. This is what you'll often find on a pair of bootcuts. It's the best of both worlds because it offers a little tummy-tucking, while still looking younger and more modern than the high waist.

Low-Rise: Better for the younger and more slim of the jean buyers. Try sitting in these when trying them on to make sure nothing will hang out. Also make sure the waist isn't too tight, or you will end up with a "muffin top". You also need to make sure to have low-rise underwear, so that nothing will show.

-Wash: Knowing what wash is most flattering is almost as important as the cut.

Dark Wash: The nicest of the washes, if you are planning to wear jeans to the office or in the evening, select a darker wash. Also, like black, darker tends to be more slimming.

Medium Wash: The most popular wash, probably will find the largest selection in this category. More casual than a dark wash, but still dark enough to be slimming.

Light Wash: Tends to go in and out of vogue more than patent leather. Still, there always seems to be a selection available in stores. Watch out for "mom jeans" in this wash. A very casual jean, like a boyfriend cut, can be very cute in a lighter wash.

Trendy Washes: These have fading, whiskering, splatters, you name it. Beware of faded jeans that have a significantly lighter center of the leg, and darker on the outsides. These create a visual effect that can make your leg (especially the thigh) look much larger. Whiskers can draw unwanted attention to the crotch area. Still, that being said, don't be afraid to try on a trendy wash. Tastefully, and carefully done, they can look young and fresh.

If you happen to find that perfect pair of jeans in a wash you don't care for, remember you can always dye them. It's very simple to find an easy-to-use denim dye.

-Other Random Tips:

Buy your jeans how you want them to fit. Jeans tend to stretch rather than shrink, especially if they have any elastene in them at all. If you're not sure, take them home and wear them around the house, with the tags on, for 30-45 minutes. If they still haven't stretched as well as you'd like them too, return them.

If you're not sure if a jean will fit, but don't want to try it on (only to find out you weren't even close), make a fist and put your elbow in one hip of the jeans, and your fist into the other, so that your arm spans the waistband. This is approximately how wide your hips are. If you can't fit your arm in, they're too tight, and if it's loose, they'll be to big. Remember, this is how it will fit your hips, your waist (if they're higher waisted jeans) is smaller.

If a jean fits perfectly everywhere, but is small in one area (say, the hips) you can wash the jeans, and before drying them pull on the area you want stretched out.

Remember, denim tailoring (especially hemming) is fairly inexpensive, and easy to find.

Wash your jeans inside-out to preserve the color, especially in darker washs. If your really concerned about the color, wash them by themselves in cold water with about a cup of vinigar the first time. (Wash them again in regular water to get rid of the smell.)

Denim is made to be worn, and it's very sturdy. It can go quite a little while without washing. If you're really in love with the way your denim has stretched, and don't want to shrink it back up, let it air dry instead of putting it in the dryer.

Salespeople can be your biggest asset. At stores that specialize in denim, they go through quite a bit of training about how thier jeans fit. Don't be afriad to ask for help, often they'll know exactly which pairs to recommend.

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