Fashion

Denim Mistakes You May Be Making & How to Wear Jeans Without Looking Frumpy

Here are some of the common denim mistakes women make that can make them look frumpy, and how to fix them!

Jeans are one of the most common wardrobe items in a woman’s closet, and these days there are soooo many styles and options available. It seems like it should be simple, but finding jeans that fit right and don’t make you look frumpy can be quite a challenge. If you’re worried that your jeans are making you look frumpy, this post is for you!

(NOTE: my pictures are supposed to be examples of denim done right, not the mistakes I’m talking about… in case you’re wondering.)

Denim Mistakes You May Be Making

#1. Wearing jeans that are too big or too small.

turtleneck // similar vest // slim straight jeans // boots // bag

This is probably the biggest mistake women make with denim. If your jeans are too big, they will sag and bag and look schlumpy. If your jeans are too small, they will create unsightly bulges that add visual weight.

As with any wardrobe item, but especially with jeans, it is super important to dress for your current size, not the size you want to be. Most women fluctuate some with their weight; I know I do. Many of us probably keep a couple of sizes in our closets, and that’s okay. Just make sure the ones that fit best at the present time are up front where they’re easy to see and grab.

If you’re unsure if a new pair of jeans is the right fit, wear them around the house for a couple hours before taking the tags off and see how they look after they have some time to stretch out a bit (or to see if they will stretch out.)

Some jeans stretch out a whole size after the first hour of wear, and others never really stretch out so the only way to find out is to wear them for a while. Almost all jeans give a little, so if in doubt, size down. When I am getting the help of a sales associate, they almost always advise me to go with the smaller size.

#2. Ignoring the rear view.

Denim Mistakes You May Be Making: ignoring the rear view

white tee // jacket (old) // AG jeans // similar bag // similar pumps

I used to hate my rear view in jeans, and I figured it was just my shape. Then I found the brands that work for me, and here I am posting tushy shots all over the internet. Haha! But really, different brands fit differently, and we all have different shapes, so you just have to try a bunch until you find the ones that work best for you.

I’ve heard women say, Who cares, I can’t see it. Well, that doesn’t mean no one else can!!! Let’s face it, people are seeing us from behind probably as much as they’re seeing us from the front, so be sure to check your rear view — particularly the pocket placement. Some sit high, some sit low, some are wide apart, some are close together… and depending on your shape, some will look better than others.

This is why I always show rear-view pictures when I do my Try On Hauls. It’s not that I relish having those pictures circulating the Internet for all eternity, but it is so important to take all angles into consideration when purchasing jeans.

#3. Not hemming your jeans.

When jeans are dragging on the floor, it definitely detracts from the overall appearance and creates a sloppy look, especially as we get older. But then again, if jeans are too short, they will cut off the leg at an awkward spot and look frumpy, so you definitely need to find your sweet spot with length and then hem your jeans if necessary.

With crop and ankle length jeans, this isn’t QUITE as much of an issue as it is with straight and bootcut styles, but it’s still something to consider. Even ankle length jeans can look awkward if they are too long or too short.

FIT TIP: In general, skinny jeans should come to the top of the ankle, straight-leg jeans to the mid-point of the ankle, and boot-cut jeans to a half-inch off the ground.

I know, so many factors! But as they say, the devil is in the details (and I would add, so is good style!)

Here’s a little visual for you. Mind you, styles change, and right now wearing jeans a bit shorter is trending, but these are your more traditional full-length cuts shown here.

skinny // straight // bootcut

#4. Wearing too much embellishment or too much distressing/whiskering.

sweater // jeans // boots // tote

I wear moderately distressed jeans, and I know there are some who think that whole trend is ridonkulous, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

However, there is no doubt that wearing jeans with lots of embellishments, excessive rips and tears, dramatic whiskering on the hips, and faded spots in unfortunate areas can add to the frump factor and look like we’re trying too hard.

#5. Tucking jeans that are too wide into your boots.

Denim Mistakes You May Be Making: tucking jeans that are too wide into your boots.

sweater // Paige Verdugo crop skinny jeans // similar cognac boots // similar bag // plaid scarves

These days with so many options for legging jeans and skinny jeans, there is absolutely no need to stuff jeans that are too wide into your boots. Not only is it unflattering, it looks incredibly frumpy-dump.

If you’re going to tuck your jeans, be sure to have a couple pairs of super skinny styles in your closet that work well with that look. (I love legging jeans for this.)

Cropped or ankle-length skinny jeans are ideal for this because they don’t require you to roll up the hems to fit inside your boots.

If you must roll your jeans to fit into boots, create one large cuff, and then pull your socks on over top to hold your pants in place and keep them from looking bulky in your boots.

And while we’re at it, let’s discuss some denim care tips. After all, if you invest in good quality denim, you want them to stay looking good for as long as possible.

How to Care for Denim

  • Don’t wash your jeans too often. If they don’t look or smell dirty, put them back in your closet.
  • Wash your jeans inside out in cold water and hang to dry to protect the wash as well as the elastin.
  • Add vinegar to the water before you wash them the first time to help lock the color in.
  • Fold rather than hang your jeans. Supposedly hanging can wear on them over time.

That last one is new to me. I always hang my jeans because I feel like I can see them better that way, and I have more hanging space than folding space. I may have to reconsider that now.

Now go forth and rock that denim!

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104 thoughts on “Denim Mistakes You May Be Making & How to Wear Jeans Without Looking Frumpy

  1. #5 – Amen! When I first started wearing boots, my daughters where quick to tell me not to wear jeans that were too wide. They didn’t want me to look like a pirate! My suggestions for future Fight the Frump posts: How to choose a well fitting bra (and how to know when you’re not!), and advice on updating your eyeglasses and hair style.

  2. Thanks, this is a good reference. What about a post about what types of shoes to pair with what types of jeans/pants. I always feel unsure about that!

    1. Yes, that’s a good one. Especially this year as I’m starting to see some new shoe and pant styles emerging, and it’s hard at first to know how to wear them together.

  3. I like your fight the frump idea! Hear is a topic idea. Wearing a top that hits at the wrong spot in length can definitely make for a frumpy look. Even sometimes wearing the wrong type of top and jeans together looks dated or frumpy. Maybe a post or two on these topics?

  4. Great information!! I really love the look of skinny jeans, and they look great on you! At my age, I know my limitations & what style looks best on me, so I stick with it. Maybe you should do a post on legging/jeggings do’s & dont’s! I see a whole lotta gals out there wearing leggings with short tops instead of tunics – not a good look!! LOL! Happy Friday!

    1. Yes, and truly, not everyone looks their best in skinnies. Other styles are easier to style, but skinnies definitely have their practical benefits and they seem to make up the majority of the denim inventory, even though other styles are trying to edge them out. LOL. Time will tell!

  5. Love the Fight the Frump post I don’t wear jeans to much here in FL, but I am going to follow your tips that couple of weeks in January when its cold enough to wear jeans. Yesterday I was shopping for new pajamas got all the way to the cash register laid them out to be rang up and thought about your Fight the Frump post about pajamas and gathered them back up and took them back to the rack, decided to go line and order them. I am positive what ever you come up with for the Fight the Frump post will be great.

  6. Thanks for the great post. Amazing what a difference little details can make. With cooler weather coming I could use some advice on layering. What jacket or sweater length looks good over certain shirts or tops that tend to flow. I have several hi-low tops and not sure what length of sweater or jacket looks best to put on top. How much shirttail or bottom of top should show without cutting myself off.

    Have a great day,
    Joy

  7. Great post! I just ordered a pair of those new crop jeans so I will look back at this post when I try them on to see if they are good or not! What length should those be? I really love the image of the length of the skinny, straight, and bootcut!
    I agree with Melissa- I need to get new glasses; I only ever wear contacts and stick very old glasses on right before bed. I need to update the frames and lenses so I can wear them in public and there are so many choices it is overwhelming. Help on that would be great!

      1. Thank you for the reply- that makes sense about the length! I have a pair of tan capris (?) and I think they stop at the widest part of my leg. I put them on the first time this season (they aren’t new) and I really did not like the way they looked on me and now I know why! They looked frumpy! I will see where the crop jeans hit on my leg. I love your Fight the Frump series!

      2. I have a hard time with crop pants hitting me in the right place. I always feel that they hit me a little too high on the leg. This is my gut feeling but most people tell me that they look fine.. I am better off with straight leg and cuff them.. this gives me the control on the length.

        1. I kind of hate crop pants, to be honest. I think full length will always be more flattering, ultimately, b/c they help extend the line of the leg. Personally, the only time I like a cropped pant is when they’re super skinny and I am wearing booties with a higher shaft that almost meets the end of the jeans. In other words, a longer pant wouldn’t work. But otherwise, I prefer ankle length or longer.

  8. Can you do a post that suggests what to wear or buy when your tired of all your summer clothes. There’s not much in stores that I like that’s weather appropriate and a little transitional. I go through this every season.

    1. LOL, I wish I knew. I love summer but the clothes do start to get boring. I’m right there with ya! I’m starting to look for darker colored tops in lightweight material that I can wear now and transition to fall. That’s a good post topic – I could do a roundup. 🙂

  9. I love your Fight Frump posts in that I always learn something new.. Today it was where skinny, straight and boot cut jeans should fall. Since following your blog, I have a new appreciation for high end denim and don’t dread shopping for jeans line I used to. Pocket placement is something I need to evaluate more than I have been doing. Thanks for educating me today.

    1. I’m so glad it’s helpful! I actually learn from these posts too. Whenever I do a post like this, I google and read up on it to make sure I’m not totally blowing smoke, lol, and I thought the guidelines on denim lengths summed it up nicely.

  10. A couple ideas is proper ways to wear make up and colors to use or avoid. I see some women literally draw a single line across their browbone for eyebrows which is unflattering and can certainly age one.
    Another idea is our overall health. Making regular eye, dental and well exams. When we have medical issues it’s important to address them for obvious reasons but they can really play on how we look. Pain for instance affects the way we carry ourselves and our posture is often affected from it which can make us look frumpy even with the most darling outfit.

  11. I’ve also noticed that colored denim can be tricky and frumpy. Is it just me? It seems colored denim tends to be thinner and accentuates EVERY. LITTLE. BULGE! Maybe a post on shopping for colored denim? Finding the right mix of quality and price and how to pick the right color/what to avoid.

    1. I agree! I thought I was the only one having that issue. I haven’t found colored denim yet that looked good on me. Nordstrom probably thinks I have a real problem based on how many colored denim items I’ve ordered and returned! LOL!

      1. I do think colored denim can be tough — especially the lighter denim. I think it’s b/c most of the time, the fabric isn’t really denim. It has a lot of stretch, and that can actually be very unforgiving.

    2. Yes, as I said to Denise, it is thinner and usually has a lot of stretch and can definitely show through some of those lumps and bumps. I do better with pricier brands (lol, naturally!) and darker colors also are better than lighter. 🙂

  12. I too would love to see a post on age appropriate haircuts and eyeglasses for various face shapes. A Fight the Frump on shoes would also be great, but I have wide feet and like to be comfortable, so that one is tricky for me.

  13. Love these fight the frump posts. Great visual about jean length. I never gave much thought to pocket placement but I will now.

  14. This is an amazing post! I love your tips and agree with them. You can take anything and make it look modern if you style it correctly. Hair styles could be a topic for this series. I don’t think length is important either way but I think a good cut is. Also handbags can add to the frump factor if not careful. Peace!
    Cheryl
    http://www.northwestmountainliving.com

  15. Hi Jo Lynne! I love all of your posts. It is such a pleasure to follow your daily blogs. You are absolutely delightful and adorable in every way. Thank you so much for everything that you do. I love AG Jeans!!! These are my favorite. Sometimes I will also purchase jeans from White House Black Market. They seem to fit well too. Do you like this brand of jeans?

    1. Hey Jane, I’ve tried them but never bought a pair except for a grey pair once that I thought I liked, and then they sagged out on me. But perhaps their denim is better. I do have a couple pairs of their pants that I like a lot. In general, I love that store. 🙂 They have a great selection of tops and dresses and work wear as well.

  16. I love the Fight the Frump information! Those little tweaks can make such a difference. I also think there have been some great suggestions already for future posts. How about discussing cardigan sweaters (such a variety of cuts, colors, lengths out now – what looks “modern”?; haircuts; and jewelry, esp. earrings. Your post on shorts was fantastic – can we get something similar for those of us who like to wear casual skirts in place of shorts? No matter what you choose to write about – I learn something new every time. Thank you!

  17. Great post! I am kind of with Shannon – I would like to know about tops. When to tuck and when not to tuck. That is a super tricky one with me because I am a pear shape. Another one would be accessories, Long necklaces vs shorter statement necklaces. etc.I know you did one on that a while ago, but a refresher would be nice. 🙂

    1. Tops are tricky because there are so many factors, it depends on body type as well. But definitely good to remember to address that when explaining my outfits! And yes, a good fight-the-frump topic as well. 🙂

  18. YES to wearing jeans around the house and sitting in them to help see how they will stretch out. I never go out in a new pair until I’ve worn them for a while first. I’ve had too many pairs that didn’t stretch as much as I hoped or stretched too much. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect pair…lol. Have a great weekend!

  19. Thank you! This is helpful. A few thoughts for Fight the Frump might be makeup, scarves, and hats for winter. I have short hair, about your length, and I would love to know what sort of hats to look for. You are so cute–I’m sure you can pull it off1 Thank you!

  20. I’m guilty in several if these. Doh!

    I don’t like the way my behind looks in any jeans! But that just says I need to lose weight there. Lol.

    I also don’t like skinny jeans that are too fitted so I know I look frumpy because I tend to buy them a little more loose. And because of this I probably look like a pirate when I tuck them into boots. Sigh…..

    Guess I have ALOT to work on. Ha ha.

    Great information though as usual.

    Have a blessed weekend.

    1. It is also possible that skinny jeans aren’t the best fit for you. Most women actually look better in straight or bootcut styles – at least according to Kelly’s Adore Your Wardrobe course. But it’s hard when they are so practical, and of course they seem to dominate the denim department these days.

  21. This is a great post! There’s so much that goes into finding a pair of jeans that looks awesome on an individual body- and you’ve touched on the most overlooked areas here in your post. I think you should do a ‘fight the frump’ post on shoes- worn out and poor fitting shoes can kill a whole outfit. And there are lots of amazing shoes of all types available now for people with picky feet- so no need to have frumpy shoes. Another idea is jackets – anoraks, denim, utility style, raincoats, trench, etc. A well fitting lighter weight outer layer can make or break an outfit too. Thanks for all you do!

  22. First, I loved your instastories with the Trunk Club unboxing. You have a great sense of humor and I love your honesty! Plus, I always learn more about fashion from your stories and your blog. Second, I also love this Fight the Frump series. I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of a few of these denim mistakes so thanks for the helpful tips. As far as future “frumps,” I’m with others who said they would love to see a post on hairstyles. I also like the makeup idea. It’s so easy to get caught up in the same routine that some advice on updating our looks would be great. Thanks for doing all the hard work for us! Have a great weekend!

  23. Loved the details on what length jeans should be. I’m short and often times have to hem jeans. Now I know what length to make them. If I could just find the perfect pair. Time to clean out my jeans! Thanks for the post!

  24. Thank you! This was helpful and informative especially as I paired it with your Instastory unboxing on the boyfriend jeans – also not a fan. (right now). Question – How to keep your skinny jeans tucked into short boots in the winter when it’s too cold to have that strip of skin showing? Or is that a faux pas?

  25. Awesome post! I agree. I think that a modern hairstyle and eye wear make such a difference. The outfit could be fab, but if the hair, makeup and glasses are off, well… 🙂 And I’m talking about myself here. 🙂 I think that I should get a pair of those chunky black frames that are so popular, but worry that as soon as I do, they will go out of style. And my glasses cost $$$, so I don’t really want to make a mistake style wise.

  26. I work in a clothing store and here are some the top causes of frumpiness in women I see coming into the store:

    (1) not coordinating the tops with the bottoms – either in the style of the garment or the color. A good post would be how to coordinate colors and what style of top to coordinate with what type of bottom.

    (2) shoes…..

    (3) accessorizing: not accessorizing or wearing jewelry that doesn’ t pair well with the outfit.

    Love your blog. I always learn something!

  27. You are having trouble because you are far from frumpy! You have your finger on the pulse of style and therefore don’t have anything to un-frump 😉 I wonder if you would allow your readers to send in pics of outfits that make them feel frumpy but they can’t figure out why, and you could analyze the outfit and say what you would change to de-frumpify it!

  28. I agree with another reader that layering techniques would be a great Fight the Frump topic. That could also include scarves. Also, for fall/winter styles you could feature appropriate outerwear (coats and/or vests) to wear with different outfits.

  29. Love this series and agree with hairstyles, shoes, etc. I’d love to see one on workout wear. I still have some workout gear from about 15 years ago…eek! Would be nice to do a series on how to transition the workout to the grocery or picking up kids without looking like a frumpy sweaty mess. Obviously, changing and showering is the best answer, but sometimes there’s not enough time!

  30. Another informative post, Jo-Lynne! Are you archiving these posts or categorizing them in a certain place on your blog? I’m asking because I KNOW that I will want to reread these posts again. Thanks for all that you do.

  31. I have the hardest time finding jeans mainly because the jeans that are my size don’t fit over my hips. So I always have to buy up a size or just purchase a pair with an elastic waistband. Maybe I should start getting my jeans altered so that way they will fit better and not be bunched up when wearing a belt!! ahh the struggle

  32. Good morning…I’m trying to get back to my email on a regular basis. Thank you for the part about hem lengths and the visual. I took a screen sho of it bc I think that same principle can be applied to all pants! I’m bad about my hems bc I a shorty and it’s an extra expense! I’ve really been loving ankle length pants/jeans bc they work for me…even tho a flare is better for my body shape, I just don’t think I’ll go back to them…too much to consider with shoe types too! Happy Labor Day!

  33. Great refresher post. Thanks. Please post pic of your family yesterday. Love seeing your family dressed up. 🙂

  34. Love Fight the Frump!! This is a great post, I especially love the info on length. I have long legs and never know quite where they should fall. Also, I have a question about scarves, are they still trendy for spring or should we pack them away? I haven’t seen much about them lately.

    1. I think they’re still a thing… definitely seeing them on handbags and as headbands. I’ve never loved scarves for me, but I would definitely still be wearing them if they were my thing. 🙂

  35. Good info to re-read.  Unfortunately, I just don’t have the shelf or drawer space to fold my jeans.  😕

    Safe travels home today. 

  36. As someone who can’t wear heels, I’d love to see jeans lengths demonstrated on a model wearing flats. Love your website!

    1. The same rules apply, but if you’re having a hard time visualizing, I’m working on a post about different styles of pants and the proper lengths with different types of shoes. 🙂

  37. Well, hello there!  I was not expecting to see a post from you today, so what a very nice surprise!  Praying for safe travels!  I am sitting on our front porch, enjoying listening to all of the animals wake up, thankful for the sunshine, and a pleasant breeze.  We will be in the low 80’s today, so the air will have to be turned on, unfortunately.  I’d rather have the windows open, but the dogs will get too hot.  The visuals of where the various cut jeans should land was extremely helpful.  I too, hang my jeans.  Since I don’t own high dollar jeans, I wonder if that makes a difference.  As an old Willy Nelson song goes, “On the road again…”

  38. Glad you had a great time with family and friends on Easter weekend.  Just to let you know, on the news this AM they said SAKS and  another….forgot the store…… had a huge data breech and credit card infor. was stolen and numbers being sold on the internet, for those who used their credit card there.  Its really getting hard to trust where we can use our cards and know how to protect our identities. 🙁

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