Fashion Friday: Jeans

Brooke wrote: I think maybe Jo-Lynne should do a post on the perfect jeans. You can usually pair a lot of things with a good fitting jean!

I say: Girl, you are SPEAKING my language.  I do love a good piece of denim.  I am of the opinion that if they are the right jeans, you can wear them anywhere, with the possible exception of a wedding.  Orrrrrr . . . maybe a funeral.  But pretty much anything else?  Fair game.

The key to finding a great pair of jeans is to try, try, try.  It’s exhausting.  And frustrating.  And sometimes maddening.  But if you try on enough pairs, you’ll figure out what works for you.

First, decide on your price point.  Old Navy is a great place to go for affordable jeans that are stylish, and they carry a wide variety of sizes and styles and washes. I hear their Diva Skinny is quite flattering.  Of course they have bootcut styles too.

Old Navy Womens The Diva Jeans Rinse Lowest Rise Skinny

Gap will cost a few more pennies, but the quality of their denim is noticeably better, in my opinion.  Their Long and Lean is almost universally flattering.  If you’re in the market for new jeans, I’d definitely give them a try.

And Gap is now offering FREE SHIPPING every day on a purchase of $50 or more — no codes, no hassle. Hooray!  And also, from November 11 to 14, you can Give & Get again!  Kelly tells us how.

For mid-range prices, check out the LOFT, Banana Republic, and JCrew.  You can often find great deals at these stores if you’re willing to comb through the sales and clearance racks.  And don’t forget about Target.  I know people who have found really flattering jeans there too.

If you want a truly fabulous pair of jeans, go designer. But beware: once you go designer, you’ll never want to wear anything else. I don’t really care about the brand name; I just love they way designer denim fits and feels. My favorite brands are Paige, Joe’s and 7 For All Mankind. They just tend to fit me better. Curvier girls tend to like Citizens of Humanity.

Now, don’t click away just yet. If the thought of shelling out upwards of $150 makes you want to hurl (or laugh), don’t automatically assume you can’t do designer denim.  You can often score a pair for cheap on ebay (of course you would have to go to a department store and try them on to figure out your size.)  And many off-price stores like TJMaxx, Marshalls, and Nordstrom Rack carry designer jeans that are still in style. There are also outlet stores cropping up for designer brands. I have a Joe’s Jeans and a True Religion in the outlet mall near me.

Okay, so what about fit?

No matter where you buy your jeans, you are looking for a few main things.

First of all, want them to be comfortable. Bend, squat, sit. Be sure you can move around in them comfortably.

Second, make sure the waist fits without causing the dreaded muffin top. The hardest thing about finding a jean is finding one where both the waist and the hips fit nicely. Often the waist is too big or too small. Try several brands, styles, rises, until you find the right pair. This takes some experimentation, so be patient.  Many brands make a “curvy fit” now, for those of you who have the gappage issue.

Third, look at the rear view.

The pocket placement is key. If they are too high, they look like mom jeans, if they are too close together or too far apart, they can add unwanted pounds. Make sure they flatter your tushy. Ladies with junk in the trunk should avoid flap pockets that only add volume. On the other hand, if you, like me, need a little help back there, a nicely placed flap pocket can do wonders. My very favorite jeans have fold over pockets.

Finally, length. Do not buy your jeans too short. Remember that they will shrink 1/4 to 1/2 an inch when you wash them, so take that into consideration. You may have to have them hemmed. This will only cost $10 or $20 and is well worth it. Your jeans should almost touch the ground. I have some hemmed for flats and some hemmed for heels.

Remember, that jeans tend to stretch out as you wear them, so you may want to size down. A good sales associate who knows her brands can usually advise you on this.

What do YOU say? What are your best tips for finding the perfect jeans?  Do you have a brand you recommend?

Join The Conversation

31 Responses

  1. I’m partial to Gap jeans and have been buying them there for years. I am almost 5’11, and they have had long length sizes long before anyone else and they fit me well. They also last a long time, so I can justify the $50, but I don’t think I could justify a $150 price tag on the designer jeans. I’m afraid to try on the pricier jeans, they might be too tempting.

  2. My biggest issue with jeans is the gap in the back. Ever since jeans went all low rider 10 years ago, I feel like I constantly have that saggy, gap where you can check out the back of someone’s thong or more… hate it! Although lately feel like they are cutting them better to avoid that. But that’s my biggest gripe – finding jeans cut to fit my hips and not make me into a plumber by day

    1. Hey Whitney, I was recently shopping with a friend who is a runner with a little more rounded backside (if you know what I mean). She was looking for a pair of skinny jeans at Ann Taylor, so she tried their regular fit in her usual size. The gap was a real issue in the back. So she tried the “curvy” fit in a size smaller than she normally wears and her problem was resolved. (The “curvy” jeans in her regular size was too big–probably because she’s not that curvy. Go figure.) I guess you just have to keep trying until you find the right thing.

  3. I have two pairs that need to be hemmed, but I have a question — do you ask for the jean hem — where they keep the original hem? I’ve heard this is key, but do people really know what you are talking about, and is it easy to find a tailor who will do it, and does it look right? I can’t imagine it.

    1. Yes, I almost mentioned that! I’m in a rush this morning. Definitely get the jean hem. DEFINITELY. Ask around and don’t trust anyone who doesn’t know exactly what you’re talking about. I made that mistake once, and they look awful. Some dry cleaners can do it well. If you buy them at an upscale department store, they all do it and do it well. Call around, some of them may do it for you even if you didn’t buy them there. Don’t pay more than $20. It does seem like a royal PITA, but it’s so worth the time and effort, especially if you paid a lot for the jeans.

      1. here is my 2 cents from short girl : )

        Regardless of where you bought the jeans, Nordstrom’s will hem them (with original hem) for $20 and they do an awesome job. Well at least our local Nordstrom’s does. I am a shortie pants, so I always have to have them hemmed and found really specialty tailors charge too much.

  4. I live in jeans, so I love this post. 🙂 I’ve found that KUT jeans really fit a mom well, as do JAG jeans. But my favorites are from CAbI–I get compliments on my CAbI jeans every single time I wear them. They are a little dressier, and just so cute.

  5. My favorite jeans I got on sale at Banana Republic – the best $20 I ever spent! I love them!

    I am a little embarrassed to say that I bought a pair of Calvin Klein jeans at Costco recently (I know, hello, is it 1980?) and they actually are pretty amazing. The only complaint I have is that they have the back flap pockets and the button is metal and I keep scratching it on things…my dining room chairs have been hit hard. I live in fear I’m going to scratch my husband’s car while trying to get into mine!

  6. I love my Old Navy jeans which are super soft and fit well, and at $25 I don’t care if they wear out in a year or so. But I also love my Lucky Brand jeans that I scored at Ross for a mere $34. I was amazed at how much the length shrunk when I finally washed them though. I’m becoming a strong proponent of hardly ever washing jeans. It just breaks down the fibers and changes the whole texture of the denim!

  7. My favorite affordable jeans are from Common Genes, sold at JCPenney. Their bootcut fit is very flattering, and like you I need a little help in the back, so the flap pockets are great. I have bought 3 pairs of jeans this summer, trying to add something different, and I hate all three. The main problem with all of them is too much stretch and so they are baggy now. Ugh. I am pretty sure I’m just going to buy another pair of Common Genes and be done with it!

  8. Buy a size smaller and don’t wash them too often. Seriously, I wash my denim far less often than my other clothes, and when I do, I turn them inside out, wash them separately in vinegar on the delicate cycle, and hang them up to dry. Doesn’t matter whether they’re Target specials or Hudsons; finding denim that fits and flatters is so maddening that when I do find what I like I want it to last a long, long time.

  9. Nordstrom has really good sales on denim if you are willing to wait for the sales. Plus, they’ll hem them for FREE! Woot! I’m a denim snob – I live by designer denim. I even have two pair of designer maternity jeans (which thankfully I do not need right now!). That being said, I will try the “trendier” styles out at LOFT first – jeggings, for example – to see if I really like them before I’ll shell out the designer money…

  10. I love Ann Taylor jeans, but Old Navy did get me with those Diva Skinny Jeans too! I tend to stick with the darker washes… faded and lighter jeans remind me of the 80’s and my younger days. Do you ever venture into lighter-colored jeans? Any tips to pull them off looking like a classy mom?

    1. I don’t do very light washes either. Medium wash is nice for a change sometimes, it looks better against darker colors.

  11. I’ve been a Gap jeans girl since I was in middle school and my mom couldn’t find jeans to fit me anywhere else. I am loving their jeggings this season. They are more jean than legging and I’m convinced that everyone’s rear looks better in a pair.

  12. My favorite reasonably priced jeans are from the Gap. Kut from the Kloth, Jag and Worn are all under $100. Premium Denim: Paige and Joe’s-hands down. Manywomen are still putting their jeans in the dryer. The spandex content is much lower than it used to be so jeans will stretch to your body but not “bag” and gap as they used to. Just as they recommend NOT to dry your lingerie, same thing for jeans. It breaks down the fibers and causes more stretching. If you have the gapping waistband, look for CONTOURED waistbands. Joe’s Honey fit will work well.

  13. My current problem is my weight. I can’t seem to find jeans that fit and since I want to lose it I have a hard time spending big time money on jeans I don’t want to wear for too long. The Gap ones though are tempting.

    1. That’s frustrating. But sometimes it’s worth it to just buy something you feel good in and cut out the size tag. 🙂 I find it easier to lose weight when I feel good in my clothes.

  14. I just ordered some Levi’s from their custom fit line. I’m excited to see how they do once they arrive.

    I’ve heard about Gap jeans and should try some.

    I wore Lees all last winter but I am now finding they aren’t holding their shape after some washings. Not thrilled about that.

  15. I fight with jeans every time I need new ones! I have found Eddie Bauer boyfriend jeans to be my fav this year. They are the light washed jean but I just wear them with my fun t’s and a cool belt. They are button fly but I have no problem getting them unbuttoned in a hurry! I have also found a pair of Levi’s and Lee’s in the darker colors. I can’t seem to get Old Navy to fit (stupid thighs!). Never tried Gap…

  16. Oh dear, dear, dear, I have now got to put my ten penny worth in.
    Firstly, I was a teenager when my father died and he had just bought me a pair of jeans. He never got to see them. So on the day of the funeral, I wore them because I knew he would be cool with that. Auntie was very not cool with that, but we all have to be ourselves and be true to that.
    Secondly, the issue surrounding “sweat shop labour” to make clothing. I recommend your blog readers look up this issue themselves and research how to clothe themselves without enslaving others for the fashion.
    Thirdly, I know what Whitney means!

  17. I definitely agree with you that “once you go designer, you’ll never want to wear anything else.” Designer jeans tend to fit better, plus they retain their shape much better after lots of washes.

  18. I have short legs and a long torso – no butt! Though about a hundred bucks, I say CAbi jeans forever! And yes, have a tailor do the hem; well worth the 10 bucks.

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